Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) are currently investigating the suspected presence of a Notifiable Avian Disease (NAD) in a broiler breeder flock in Fermanagh. It comes following contact by a private veterinary practitioner on January 2 expressing concerns relating to the increased mortality of birds at the holding.

The department initiated a veterinary enquiry with a Divisional Veterinary Officer visiting the holding on the same evening while restrictions have been served on the farm. A DAERA spokeswoman said: “Samples have been taken and transported to AFBI. Testing for NAD including Avian Influenza (AI) and Newcastle disease (ND) is ongoing.

DAERA officials have arranged a stakeholder meeting Monday 6 January 2020 to provide an update on this investigation and discuss potential next steps whilst results are pending.

“All bird keepers are urged to remain vigilant and if they suspect any signs of the disease in their flocks they must report it immediately to DAERA.

All bird keepers in NI are required by law to register with DAERA and a registration form can be downloaded from the DAERA website.

“All poultry keepers, including backyard flock keepers and those keeping game birds and pet birds need to act now and maintain high levels of biosecurity at all times in order to reduce the risk of transmission of avian flu to their flocks.

“DAERA utilises a text alert service for all bird keepers to receive immediate notifications of disease outbreaks or other important disease information. This enables bird keepers to take action to protect their flock at the earliest opportunity and they can subscribe to this service by simply texting ‘BIRDS’ to 67300.”

Risk of the disease increases during the winter months with the arrival of migratory birds who may carry the diseases.

DAERA can order the culling of birds to prevent disease spreading.