Chicken farms hit by disease

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Officials and farmers held a crisis meeting yesterday after a seventh outbreak of fowl pest in Northern Ireland was confirmed.

A province-wide vaccination programme may now be put in place as the entire poultry industry there is under threat. So far 100,000 chicks have died or been slaughtered as a result of the outbreak of Newcastle Disease in counties Tyrone, Armagh and Antrim. The Northern Irish Department of Agriculture stressed there was no risk to public health as the disease cannot be passed to humans.