It is not just humans, hens in Longford and all over Ireland have been in an enforced lockdown for months.
Irish hens and all poultry have been forced to stay inside since December 21, to reduce the risk of spreading of Avian Flu.
However this Friday April 9 they can once again spread their wings and enjoy the outdoors, with the lifting of the measure by the Government.
Feeding must still be done indoors however.
The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has announced that the legal requirement to confine/house poultry and other birds as a precautionary measure against Avian Influenza (bird flu) will be lifted from the 9th of April 2021.
The legislation requiring the precautionary confinement of birds was introduced on the 21st December 2020 to mitigate the risk of avian influenza in poultry. The decision to withdraw this requirement is based on a number of parameters which indicate a reducing risk of an avian influenza incursion - including the fact that no case of bird flu has been confirmed here in wild birds for a period of 8 weeks, reducing numbers of migratory waterfowl and increasing environmental temperatures and daylight hours.
Removing the requirement to confine birds means that all poultry and bird owners may allow their birds access to open areas and runs from the 9th of April. The Department however urges flock owners to remain vigilant as, notwithstanding the reduced risk, there is still the possibility of the virus being present in the environment or being transmitted to their flock by wild birds.
Further enhanced biosecurity requirements that were introduced on 1st December (SI No. 566 of 2020) – the requirement to ensure that poultry or other captive birds cannot come into contact with wild birds, that all areas that poultry and captive birds have access to must be fenced and that they are restricted from access to open or permanent standing water – remain in place.
Restrictions on the assembly of live birds for the purposes of show or sale (SI No 567 of 2020) also remain in place for the time being.
Bird owners are advised to continue to remain vigilant, monitor their birds for any signs of disease and implement strict disease control measures. In particular, birds should continue to be fed indoors or under cover where wild birds cannot have access. For further information on enhanced biosecurity requirements can be found here
The Department also reminds all poultry owners, including those who keep only 1 or 2 birds, of their legal obligation to register their premises with the Department. Guidance on how to register your poultry can be found at www.gov.ie/en/service/984df6- poultry-register/