There is no room for complacency when it comes to bird flu, IFA poultry chair Nigel Sweetnam has told the Irish Farmers Journal.

“The biggest worry we have is cross-species contamination when we see what is happening in the US,” he said. “The importance of biosecurity cannot be underestimated. There is no room for complacency,” he said.

A housing order is a crucial element of biosecurity, he added.

“Around 90% of contamination is through contact with wild birds. Contact with wild birds should be avoided, and after that, transmission is down to human activity,” Sweetnam said.

“This time of year isn’t too bad, we will be more concerned in autumn when birds return from the Arctic circle.”

Sweetnam said the biggest danger with bird flu is mutations.

“We would urge dairy farmers to be vigilant after what we see in the US. Any areas with mortality in wild bird flock should be very careful. We will keep the fingers crossed and hope it stays away.”

Grandparent flocks are a source of genetics, and for food security reasons, Sweetnam said that we need the setting up of independent grandparent flocks.

“We would be particularly worried about grandparent flocks, we’d like to see setting up of grandparent flocks in remote areas, preferably in the west as we rely on Northern Ireland for breeding stock.”


Stephen Arthur, IFA dairy chair, said that he believes the Irish Department of Agriculture has a good risk assessment of the industry here.

“I think they are on top of monitoring it,” he told the Irish Farmers Journal.

Arthur said that he believes that the feedlots and the intensive indoor system in US dairy herds increase the level of risk there.