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Ulster farming union expresses concerns over backyard flocks amid bird flu cases

Mismanaged backyard flocks could pose a threat to Northern Ireland’s commercial poultry sector as bird flu cases rise.

22 February 2021, at 8:40am

The Ulster Farmers Union (UFU) has expressed concerns over the increase in backyard poultry flocks in Northern Ireland after the first confirmed cases of highly pathogenic bird flu appeared earlier in 2021.

David McClure, the UFU policy officer, said that the commercial poultry industry was expressing mounting concerns as poorly managed backyard flocks could spread bird flu to commercial units.

“As we moved out of autumn and into mid-winter, cases of avian influenza began to appear in Europe and Great Britain. In early January the worst fears of all NI poultry farmers were realised with the confirmation of two cases of highly pathogenic avian influenza (H5N8) on commercial poultry farms locally,” he said.

“The UFU poultry committee has been working tirelessly trying to educate backyard keepers on how to continue their trend of livestock production in a biosecure and responsible fashion. A backyard flock, if appropriately registered and correctly housed should not pose any increased risk to the poultry industry. DAERA provide guidance on appropriate and necessary biosecurity on their website.”

The UFU poultry committee is urging anyone who supplies livestock to backyard flocks to check that the new owners have registered their flock before supplying them with birds.