The compulsory housing order for poultry in Ireland has been extended to April 30 by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.
This extends the requirement to confine/house poultry and other captive birds, which was declared as a precautionary measure against avian influenza (bird flu) on 23 December 2016, and which had been due to expire on 16 March.
Continued findings of bird flu in wild birds in Ireland has led to the Department extending the compulsory confinement period as a precautionary measure, to protect the internationally recognised high health status of the national poultry flock.
The Department will be keeping this decision under regular review.
So far, bird flu has been identified in 12 wild birds in six counties since the end of December but there have been no outbreaks in poultry.
Although the H5N8 subtype can cause serious disease in poultry and other birds, no human
infections with this virus have been reported world-wide and therefore risk to humans is
considered to be very low.
Under EU regulations, eggs and poultry meat may continue to be marketed as ‘free range’ for up to 12 weeks from when the compulsory housing order is brought into effect; and in Ireland’s case, the 12-week period is set to expire on March 17.
Meaning, after this date, processors, producers and retailers in the free-range egg and poultry sector must make alternative labelling arrangements, the Department said.
These arrangements must be put in place to remain in compliance with the relevant EU provisions on marketing and labelling of their products, it added.
The Department says that it is continuing to monitor and assess the disease situation and that it is maintaining close contact with the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs in Northern Ireland on this matter.
Poultry flock owners are being urged to remain vigilant for any signs of disease in their flocks, maintain strict biosecurity measures and report any disease suspicion to their nearest Department