Avian Influenza Prevention Zone in Northern Ireland lifted

Date published: 20 May 2021

The Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ) in force across Northern Ireland (NI) and the ban on poultry gatherings has ended as of noon on 20 May 2021, Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs Minister, Edwin Poots, has announced.


The measures, imposing a range of compulsory biosecurity measures on poultry flocks, were introduced in December 2020. The aim of the AIPZ was to address the risk posed by avian influenza to the poultry sector and were vital tools in protecting flocks across NI from the disease which circulates in wild birds.

DAERA officials worked closely with the poultry industry and bird keepers to ensure that strict biosecurity measures were deployed in and around poultry premises to help keep flocks safe. These interventions have been successful in helping to contain the disease and, as a result, the risk of bird flu in poultry with good biosecurity has now reduced to ‘low’ for all poultry across NI.

Minister Poots said: “This will be welcome news for bird keepers across Northern Ireland who have put great effort into keeping their flocks safe this winter.

“Together we have taken swift action to contain this disease and we urge all bird keepers - whether they have just a few birds or thousands - to continue do their bit to maintain strict biosecurity measures. We do not want to lose the progress that we have made over the past few months as Low Risk certainly does not mean No Risk.”

All poultry and bird gatherings, including pigeon gatherings organised for races will also be permitted from 20 May provided organisers comply with the provisions of the new General Licence.

Northern Ireland’s Chief Veterinary Officer, Dr Robert Huey added: “This is great news for the poultry industry and hobby sector and follows intensive engagement with stakeholders throughout this outbreak to help ensure best practice is followed and communicated across the industry.

“I would urge all poultry and captive bird keepers to remain vigilant for any signs of disease in their birds and any wild birds and seek immediate advice from their vet if they have any concerns. The most effective way to deal with disease is to take active steps to prevent disease in flocks where possible."

Keepers can help prevent avian flu, and other diseases, by maintaining high levels of biosecurity on their premises. Guidance on biosecurity measures you can take to prevent your birds from becoming sick is available here.

Notes to editors: 

  1. Avian Influenza is a notifiable disease. Anyone who suspects an animal may be affected by a notifiable disease must report it to their local Divisional Veterinary Office. Contact details can be found from the DAERA website.
  2. All poultry and other birds must be registered with DAERA. The application form is available from the DAERA website.
  3. Bird keepers can receive updates on AI outbreaks and latest news by subscribing to DAERA text alert service. You will receive immediate notification of any disease outbreak or other important disease information, enabling you to protect your flock at the earliest opportunity. Simply text “BIRDS” to 67300.
  4. More information about Avian Influenza - including biosecurity guidance - is available from the DAERA website.
  5. An Avian Influenza Prevention Zone was first declared in Northern Ireland on 1 December 2020 and then renewed with further enhanced measures on 23 December 2020. The AIPZ ended at noon on 20 May 2021.
  6. Members of the public are encouraged to report dead waterfowl (swans, geese or ducks) or gulls, or five or more dead wild birds of other species in the same location, to the DAERA helpline on 0300 200 7840, Mon-Fri 9.00am to 5.00pm).
  7. Follow DAERA on Twitter and Facebook.
  8. All media queries should be directed to the DAERA Press Office.
  9. The Executive Information Service operates an out of hour’s service for media enquiries only between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The duty press officer can be contacted on 028 9037 8110.

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