The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine announced as of today, April 25, it is no longer a legal requirement to confine/house poultry and other birds as a precautionary measure against Avian Influenza (bird flu).
The legislation requiring the confinement of birds was introduced on December 23, last year. There has been no case of bird flu confirmed here in wild birds for a period of 8 weeks and the decision has now been made to lift restrictions.
Lifting the requirement to confine birds means that all poultry and bird owners can now allow their birds access to open areas and runs. However owners should not be complacent as there is still the possibility of the virus being present in the environment or being transmitted to their flock by wild birds.
Bird owners should continue to remain vigilant, monitor their birds for any signs of disease and implement strict disease control measures. In particular birds should be fed indoors or under cover where feasible. For further information on appropriate disease control measures please see here.
The change also means that free range flocks will regain their status for the purposes of marketing free range eggs and poultry meat and there will no longer be a requirement for additional labelling.
However only eggs produced and birds slaughtered from April 25, 2017 can be marketed as free range. Product produced prior to this date will have to be marketed as per the Guidelines which issued by the Department on March 8, 2017.
The Department also reminds all poultry owners, including those who keep small numbers of “backyard” poultry, of their legal obligation to register their premises with the Department.
A temporary, dedicated Poultry Registration and Update Unit was established by the Department in order to ensure that the poultry register is accurate and up to date. The unit may be contacted on lo-call 0761064449 or by emailing PoultryRegUpdate@agriculture.gov.ie