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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.