This is the latest information I have received from the dept it contains some good news for pigeon fanciers, unfortunately not so good for racing at present, hopefully this will change if no further outbreaks of Avian are confirmed
As you will be aware there is an Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ) in place across Northern Ireland – further information is available here.
In addition two commercial poultry holdings have been confirmed as highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N8 near Clough and Lisburn – further information available here.
As part of the risk mitigation measures taken at these premises disease control zones (Protection Zone (PZ) Surveillance Zone (SZ)) were put in place around these premises which are scheduled to be removed 10 and 11 February 2021 respectively.
If your birds are within a disease control zone, make sure you check the restrictions applicable to that zone.
You can exercise, train and race pigeons or fly birds of prey, but you should try to prevent them from making direct contact with wildfowl. Bird gatherings are not allowed to take place anywhere in NI. You can fly pigeons that already live together, in an AIPZ. However, birds that are not already housed together/on the same premises should not be flown together, as this constitutes a bird gathering.
You can exercise your racing pigeons for up to one hour once each day while an AIPZ with housing measures in force, but they should avoid direct contact with wild birds. You may train birds as a single loft, but must not mix birds from other lofts. You cannot do this if you are in a PZ or SZ.
You must not have an open loft that allows the birds to freely come and go, which would increase the chance of wild birds entering your loft and contaminating it.
In general terms to reduce the risk of your birds becoming infected with Avian Influenza, you should take steps to avoid your birds coming in to contact with wild birds, or their faeces/body fluids:
• You should focus on ensuring a high level of cleanliness (biosecurity) in your lofts, particularly if you also keep poultry – chickens, hens, ducks, geese, turkeys, game birds and guinea fowl – and should follow the advice in biosecurity guidance documents available on government websites.
• You should undertake vermin (rats and mice) control to reduce their contact with feed and water for pigeons.
• Your birds should, where practicable, receive mains or treated water that is not accessible to wild birds or poultry to reduce the risk of contamination.
• You should ensure your baskets are as clean as practicable when you are using them to transport birds to other locations. They should be disinfected regularly during the racing season.
• You should consider cleaning the feet of your birds before transporting them to other locations, particularly for shows, races and sales.
• If you also keep other poultry, including a few chickens or ducks, ensure that your pigeons neither mix with such poultry nor have access to their food and water, in order to reduce the risk of spreading disease.
• Any vehicles / trailers used to transport pigeons must be cleansed and disinfected using Government approved disinfectant, between transports
Jim Blee I Animal Disease Control & Trade Policy Branch I Veterinary Service Animal Health Group I Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs I Ballykelly House I 111 Ballykelly Road I Ballykelly I Limavady I BT49 9HP