Blandford Forum farmer George Hosford says it is difficult for free range poultry farmers to prevent avian influenza.
On Thursday, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) announced that the bird flu prevention zone had been extended across the whole country after thirteen wild birds were killed by the virus in Warwickshire.
It follows the original discovery of the strain in 31 birds in Weymouth, Dorset last week.
Hosford said: “The poultry industry is definitely a divided one. The large industrial scale ones, who keep all their birds indoors, have very strict hygiene anyway, and because the birds are indoors, bird flu is not a particularly big issue for them.
“However it is much more difficult for organic or free range farms, where they are obliged to let the birds go outside to meet the terms of their more welfare friendly contracts. During bird flu periods, welfare has to suffer as the birds have to be kept indoors, and the housing and general set up may not always be very suitable for this, they may become a bit crowded.”
During bird flu periods, welfare has to suffer as the birds have to be kept indoors, and the housing and general set up may not always be very suitable for this, they may become a bit crowded.”
The extension of the bird flu prevention zone doesn’t just affect poultry farmers. It affects anyone who owns or looks after birds. Joseph Broadhead’s family have had chickens in their garden for the last ten years.
You can listen to what impact this will have on him below:
Chief Veterinary Officer Nigel Gibbens said:
“Following the latest finding of bird flu in wild birds in Warwickshire, we are extending our action to help prevent the virus spreading to poultry and other domestic birds.
“Whether you keep just a few birds or thousands, you are now legally required to meet enhanced biosecurity requirements and this is in your interests to do, to protect your birds from this highly infectious virus.”
Food Standards Agency said “bird flu does not pose a risk to food safety for people in the UK.”
A declaration released by DEFRA, which all poultry keepers (including backyard flock keepers) will have to comply with includes:
- Precautions are taken to avoid the transfer of virus contamination between premises, including cleansing and disinfection of equipment, vehicles and footwear.
- The movement of people, vehicles or equipment to and from the part of the premises where poultry are kept is reduced to only essential movements for looking after their welfare, collecting eggs and feeding.
- Access to open or standing water is restricted by fencing off and netting ponds, standing water, or waterlogged land to prevent access by poultry or other captive birds.
- There is no direct contact with poultry or other captive birds on other neighbouring premises.
- Measures are taken to discourage wild birds, in particular gulls and wild waterfowl, from entering the fenced outdoor areas.
- There is regular cleaning and disinfecting of all concrete walkways, paths and similar surfaces to which poultry or other captive birds or wild birds have access.
Defra have said this prevention zone will remain until the public are notified otherwise.