Avian flu outbreak farm to cull thousands of birds

By Matt Atherton contact

- Last updated on GMT

Bird flu: there have been eight reported cases in the UK since December 6
Bird flu: there have been eight reported cases in the UK since December 6

Related tags: Bird flu, Poultry farming, Influenza, Avian influenza

About 23,000 birds will be culled in Suffolk, after a case of avian (bird) flu was identified near Redgrave.

Banham Poultry confirmed it reported a single case of bird flu to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) on Sunday, February 12. There was no evidence of any spread of the infection to other farms, Banham Poultry said.

“The affected farm does not produce meat and is instead a breeding rearer farm,”​ said Banham Poultry. “The infection was confirmed after we notified DEFRA, following increasing mortality in one of our flocks.

“They will now be humanely culled by the authorities in accordance with EU legislation. The specific strain of influenza has yet to be identified and further tests will need to be carried out by the authorities before this can be confirmed.”

Ordered to be kept indoors

All birds within 3km of the site were ordered to be kept indoors by DEFRA, after the case was reported.

What the National Farmers Union (NFU) said about the Suffolk bird flu outbreak

NFU East Anglia adviser John Newton said: “This is concerning news for poultry farmers in East Anglia, who have been living with the threat of bird flu for several months, including the requirement to house all birds. Poultry farming is a hugely important farming sector for our region, producing about one quarter of England’s table chicken and generating sales of £670M at the farmgate.

“A 10km temporary control zone has been set up around the premises while investigations continue and we will be liaising with APHA as the situation unfolds. Our priority is to help our members within this zone to minimise any impact on their businesses.”

This was the eighth reported case of bird flu in the UK since the government issued a prevention zone on December 6, after a strain of avian flu was recorded circulating mainland Europe.

The risk to human health from bird flu remained “very low”​, Public Health England said. Bird flu also isn’t a risk to food safety, the Food Standards Agency confirmed.

Meanwhile, about 150 members of the British Free Range Egg Producers Association (BFREPA) might have to downgrade the price of their eggs by 20p a dozen, if nationwide prevention zones remained in place, BFREPA said.

Going out of business

The BFREPA claimed producers inside the government’s designated Higher Risk Areas (HRAs) were at risk of going out of business, as their free-range hens must be kept indoors. The chief veterinary officer Nigel Gibbons ordered HRAs in some parts of England, while there were no compulsory housing for producers in Wales and Scotland, the BFREPA claimed.

BFREPA chief executive Robert Gooch said: “There is a lack of common sense in an approach that allows birds on one side of the Severn Estuary to range, while across the border in England birds continue to be housed. It has created a postcode lottery.

“An outbreak at a broiler farm in Suffolk this week was outside of the proposed HRA, demonstrating that there is little science available to accurately pinpoint where HRAs should be.”

The BFREPA urged DEFRA to review its policy on HRAs.

Reported bird flu cases since December 6

  • February 13 – Redgrave, Suffolk
  • January 27 – Wyre, Lancashire
  • January 26 – Boston, Lincolnshire
  • January 16 – East Lindsey, Lincolnshire
  • January 6 – Settle, North Yorkshire
  • January 3 – Pontyberem, Carmarthenshire
  • December 22 – Llanelli, Carmarthenshire
  • December 16 – Louth, Lincolnshire

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