More NI bird flu restrictions as stores limit egg sales

More NI bird flu restrictions as stores limit egg sales

Disease control restrictions have been put in place in part of County Fermanagh after bird flu was confirmed in a commercial turkey flock in County Monaghan.

Due to the proximity, the Department of Agriculture, Environment & Rural Affairs (DAERA) is required to take measures to “mitigate for onward spread” with any  premises within 10km of the infected site having to follow strict biosecurity protocols.

Movements of poultry and related products out of the zone also require licensing and chief vet Robert Huey said certain moves will be permitted under specific licence which must be applied for a minimum of 48 hours in advance.

He added: “All flock keepers must take action now to review and, where necessary, improve biosecurity in order to prevent an incursion of the disease into our poultry flock,” said commercial turkey.

“If Avian Influenza were to enter our Northern Ireland flock, it would have a devastating impact on our poultry industry, international trade and the wider economy.

“In addition, the negative financial and emotional impact on the individual farm family and business is something we have seen all too often with disease incursions and we must do everything we can to avoid this, particularly at this time of heightened risk.

“This incursion of H5N1 into a flock in County Monaghan must serve as a stark reminder that Avian Influenza is already present here. Officials will continue to work closely with poultry keepers and the wider industry as we work together to minimise the risk of any further incursions.”

Since October 2021, millions of birds across the UK and throughout Europe have been culled in a bid to prevent the spread of the disease in the largest outbreak of Highly Pathogenic (H5N1) Avian Influenza ever seen in these islands.

The disease has also had a huge impact on wild bird populations in some areas.

In Northern Ireland over the last year, there have been six outbreaks recorded at commercial or backyard hobby flock settings, resulting in the culling of more than 85,000 birds.

The last such outbreak was recorded in February 2022, with another detection in captive birds at the Castle Espie Wildfowl and Wetlands Centre in County Down in September.

The news comes as some shops including Asda and Lidl have started to ration the number of boxes of eggs customers can buy due to supply issues.

Asda said customers would be limited to buying two boxes of eggs until further notice, while Lidl is limiting customers to three.

UK poultry farmers are facing rising costs due to the outbreak of avian flu and it has started to affect the supply of eggs, and led to concerns of a shortage of Christmas turkeys.