A 'red alert' warning for avian flu does not threaten to the supply of Christmas turkeys, the Irish Farmers’ Association has said.
Avian flu has been rampant in many parts of Europe this year and has been reported as “killing unprecedented numbers of birds” in Scotland.
The IFA issued the alert yesterday, after a dead swan from Cavan tested positive for a strain of avian flu.
Cavan and neighbouring Monaghan are home to 75% of Ireland’s turkeys and concern has been raised that an outbreak could put the nation’s Christmas dinner at risk.
Despite the warning, the IFA says there is no need to panic at this point.
“At the minute, the case is only in wild birds,” Brendan Soden, IFA Poultry Vice Chair, told Newstalk Breakfast.
“We have been lucky in one way; the UK has had a lot of cases but this has been going on for the last year across Europe continuously now at this stage - but we’ve been fortunate that it hasn’t got that far on our wild bird population.”
Officials have announced that poultry must be placed in lockdown from Monday in order to try and limit the spread of the disease.
“There has been biosecurity regulations in place for the last month," Mr Soden said.
"Which means that farmers have to adhere to these guidelines and it is all poultry keepers - even those with backyard flocks.
“You must not feed birds outside, keep your domestic fowl away from wild birds, that sort of thing, they’ve been there for sometime now and we’ve been liaising with the Department weekly at this stage.”
If a bird does contract avian flu then its entire flock must be slaughtered according to official guidelines.
“That’s in order to try and act on it quickly and stamp it out before any spread may be caused,” Mr Soden said.
The risk of a human contracting avian flu is very low but people are advised not to touch or handle dead birds and instead report them to the Department of Agriculture.
Main image: Free range turkey on a turkey farm. Suffolk, UK. Picture by: Alamy.com