Probe into poultry link to botulism - Up to 30 cattle dead in suspected cases

Three cases of suspected botulism have been reported in Meath and Kildare
Three cases of suspected botulism have been reported in Meath and Kildare
Clare Fianna Fáil TD Timmy Dooley. Photo: Tom Burke

Martin Ryan

The use of poultry litter on farms in Meath and Kildare is being checked to establish whether the correct procedures were followed when transporting and spreading the product.

Three cases of suspected botulism have been reported in Meath and Kildare. On one farm, 20 beef animals, worth close to €30,000, died within a period of hours. It is understood that up to 10 animals died in the other suspected cases.

Speaking in the Dáil last week, Agriculture Minister Michael Creed said that poultry litter containing "residual poultry carcases" must be disposed of in an incineration plant approved by the Department of Agriculture or the EPA, or in an approved rendering plant.

He also stressed that only hauliers who are registered with the Department of Agriculture are permitted to transport poultry litter.

"The material must be transported in covered, leak-proof containers or vehicles which are maintained in a clean condition with signage stating 'Category 2 Material - Manure'," said Minister Creed .

He was replying to Deputy Timmy Dooley, who requested clarification on the disposal measures, transport regulations, and compliance requirements for those disposing of, or using, poultry litter.

Minister Creed added that "enforcement action", including the issuing of a compliance notice requiring a particular action and also the use of criminal sanctions, is provided for within the EU regulations for poultry litter.


Botulism is one of the world's deadliest toxins. Sniffing as little as 13 billionths of a gram of the toxin can be lethal. It is fatal within hours once ingested by an animal.

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While poultry manure that does not contain "residual poultry carcases" is a valuable soil fertiliser, it must be spread without delay and, in the event that the material is being held for a short time prior to land-spreading, strict control measures are required to be taken, Minister Creed said.

It is understood that actions related to the handling and use of poultry litter, which may have contributed to the animal losses in Meath and Kildare, are now being considered for compliance with the statutory EU regulations.

Up to 30 cattle dead in suspected cases

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