DAERA launches new text alert service for Avian Flu threat

Date published: 12 October 2017

The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) has launched a new text alert service to inform bird keepers of any disease outbreaks.

Chief Veterinary Officer for NI, Mr Robert Huey, has advised bird keepers to prepare for the threat of Avian flu this winter and to sign up to DAERA's new text alert service by texting the word 'BIRDS' to 67300.

The new system ‘goes live’ as Chief Veterinary Officer for NI, Robert Huey urges bird keepers to remain vigilant to the threat of Avian Flu as the migratory cycle begins.

Mr Huey said: “The Department has recently launched a new text alert service for all bird keepers to receive immediate notifications of disease outbreaks or other important disease information. This will enable bird keepers to take action to protect their flock at the earliest opportunity. I would therefore encourage bird keepers to subscribe to this service by simply texting ‘BIRDS’ to 67300.”

If your poultry have been registered and you provided the Department with a valid mobile number, you have automatically been subscribed to this service and notified by text. If you did not receive a text confirming that you have already subscribed to the text alert service then DAERA does not hold your mobile details and you should therefore text ‘BIRDS’ to 67300 to subscribe to the new text alert service.

Mr Huey also urged bird keepers to continue with a high standard of biosecurity measures. He added: “The risk of avian influenza remains a real and constant threat as the disease continues to circulate in Europe. With autumn upon us and decreasing temperatures, wild birds are starting their migratory cycle in preparation for winter. Wild birds increase the risk of Avian Influenza being spread through contact with domestic birds. I therefore urge bird keepers, especially those with free range systems, to remain vigilant and continue to practice high standards of biosecurity on their premises.”

Contact may be direct or indirect through faecal contamination of anything that may come into contact with domestic birds such as feed, water, utensils or clothing. The risk of disease spread can therefore be reduced by minimising contact with wild birds.

Whether you run a large commercial farm or keep just a few pet chickens in your back garden, taking these few simple steps can help to keep your flocks disease free:

  • Keep the area where birds live clean and tidy, control rats and mice and regularly disinfect any hard surfaces. Clean footwear before and after visits.
  • Place birds’ food and water in fully enclosed areas that are protected from wild birds, and remove any spilled feed regularly.
  • Put fencing around outdoor areas where birds are allowed, and limit their access to ponds or areas visited by wild waterfowl.
  • Stay aware of the latest Avian Flu advice issued by DAERA.

Download a bird registration form from the DAERA website or by contacting the DAERA Helpline on 0300 200 7852. Bird keepers who have not yet registered their birds should do so immediately.

Notes to editors: 

  1. Audio of Robert Huey speaking about the new measures.
  2. 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. Download contact details for local Divisional Veterinary Offices.
  3. All poultry and other birds must be registered with DAERA. Download a bird registration form from the DAERA website.
  4. More information about Avian Influenza, including biosecurity guidance, is available from the DAERA website.
  5. 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 9am to 5pm).
  6. Texts sent to 67300 may be charged at your standard mobile network rate. There is no charge to receive text messages from this service. If you wish to be removed from this service, please text ‘NOBIRDS’ to 67300. Further details are available on the DAERA website.
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  8. All media queries should be directed to the DAERA Press Office on 028 9052 4619 or email DAERA Press Office. Out of office hours please contact the duty press officer via pager number 07623 974 383 and your call will be returned.

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