Bird keepers reminded to keep their flocks indoors

Date published: 09 December 2022

All bird keepers in Northern Ireland are reminded of the need to keep their birds and poultry housed, as part of the ongoing bid to combat the growing threat of avian flu in Northern Ireland.


Mandatory housing measures for all kept birds and poultry came into force across Northern Ireland at midday on 28 November 2022, meaning that all bird keepers are legally required to keep their birds indoors or otherwise separate from wild birds.

With positive cases in wild birds, commercial and backyard flocks continuing to rise in recent months across the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland, Chief Veterinary Officer Dr Robert Huey is reminding all keepers of the legal requirement to keep their birds housed to prevent a disease incursion here.

Dr Huey said: “Avian flu is a devastating disease and has the potential to seriously damage our poultry industry. I would like to remind all bird keepers, including owners of backyard and hobby flocks, pet birds and commercial flocks, of their legal obligation to adhere to the housing order requirements, which are there to protect your flock."

Dr Huey continued: “The welfare of housed birds is also important during this time. Housing may impact their wellbeing, especially if they’re not used to being kept indoors for long periods. It is therefore essential that keepers look after their birds welfare by: -

  • making sure they are not overcrowded
  • making sure they have natural light where possible
  • monitoring the temperature inside the housing
  • ensuring the birds have enough ventilation, food, and fresh, clean water"

Dr Huey concluded: “Avian Influenza remains a serious threat in Northern Ireland and we must continue to be vigilant. We cannot afford to get complacent. Excellent biosecurity remains the most effective defence for reducing the transmission of this disease. I would remind all bird keepers of the importance of adhering to the enhanced mandatory biosecurity measures currently in place.”

Notes to editors: 

  1. Avian Influenza is a notifiable disease. Anyone who suspects an animal may be affected by a notifiable disease must, by law, report it to their local DAERA Direct Office.
  2. DAERA reminds you that it is a legal requirement for all bird keepers to also register their birds (unless they are kept within your own home). This enables us to contact you with important disease information giving you the best opportunity to protect your birds. You can use the online bird registration form.
  3. The Department has developed a biosecurity - self assessment tool to help bird keepers in the review of their biosecurity arrangements. The checklist can be completed online and saved to your device.
  4. DAERA also encourages you to sign up to the text alert service simply by texting 'BIRDS OPT IN' to 07860 098672. This will allow you to receive immediate notification of any important disease information, allowing you to protect your flocks at the earliest opportunity. Text 'BIRDS OPT OUT' to 07860 098672, to STOP receiving these text messages.
  5. All media queries should be directed to the DAERA Press Office at: ​​​
  6. Follow DAERA on Twitter and Facebook.
  7. The Executive Information Service operates an out of hours 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 8

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