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HPAI update - Department lifts requirement for confinement of poultry and urges flock owners to update their flock registration

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine announced as of today 25 April 2017, 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 the 23 December 2016. The decision to lift the confinement requirement is based on a number of parameters which indicate a reducing risk of an avian influenza incursion - including the fact that no case of bird flu has been confirmed here in wild birds for a period of 8 weeks, reducing numbers of migratory waterfowl and increasing environmental temperatures and daylight hours.

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 click 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 25 April 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 8th March 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 .

Further information on avian influenza can be found here.

A list of Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine offices and their contact details is available at:

Avian influenza helpline :Tel: 076 1064403

To view this Press Release as a PDF: DAFMPR 72/2017 (pdf 264Kb) 

Date Released: 25 April 2017