Northern Ireland

Fermanagh: Suspected case of bird disease on poultry farm

Poultry farm
Image caption Poultry is an important part of the Northern Ireland agri-food sector

The authorities are investigating a suspected case of a notifiable bird disease on a poultry farm in County Fermanagh.

It was discovered four days ago when a vet became concerned about increased mortality amongst the birds.

Tests are being run to see if it is bird flu, or another disease called Newcastle Disease.

It will be several days before final results are back.

Restrictions have been put in place on the farm as a precautionary measure.

The farm is one when eggs are produced that go on to become chicks which are reared for poultry meat.

The Department of Agriculture Environment and Rural Affairs can order the culling of birds to prevent disease spreading.

Farmers have been urged to step up their biosecurity.

The disease risk increases in winter with the arrival of migratory birds which can carry them.

In recent years bird flu has been confirmed in wild birds on several occasions.

Last month, the H5 strain of bird flu was detected at a commercial poultry business in Suffolk.

Twenty seven thousand chickens were culled there.

Poultry is an important part of the Northern Ireland agri-food sector.

The latest figures show there are about 26m birds on farms here.

The majority of them are bred for meat but there are a substantial number of laying hens too.

Annual turnover from poultry is about £709m and it employs almost 6,000 people.

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