Act now to protect poultry, says NFU

Free range hens in the sunshine

The NFU is urging all poultry keepers in East Anglia to follow strict new biosecurity measures introduced as part of the fight against Avian Influenza (bird flu).

The Government has introduced a nationwide Avian Influenza Prevention Zone to mitigate the risk of the disease spreading, following three confirmed cases on poultry farms in England and the discovery of wild birds with the disease.

The prevention zone requires all bird keepers, both commercial and non-commercial, to discourage contact with wild birds by taking steps including netting ponds, removing wild bird food sources and feeding poultry in enclosed areas. They must also clean and disinfect footwear and concrete areas.

Anyone with more than 500 birds must follow additional measures, including restricting access for non-essential people to their sites.

NFU Regional Poultry Board Chairman Tom Wornham said: “We welcome this as a proportionate move by the Government, given the risk posed by migratory wild birds to commercial poultry.

“East Anglia is a hugely important region for poultry farming and we are in a critical stage in the run-up to Christmas. We must do everything we can to avoid an outbreak here that could have serious consequences for individual farms and the wider industry.

“I would ask everyone, whether you have a few birds or a few thousand birds, to follow these rules so we can protect all poultry from this highly infectious disease.”

Public Health England advises that the risk to public health from the virus is very low and the Food Standards Agency advises that avian influenzas pose a very low food safety risk for UK consumers. Properly cooked poultry and poultry products, including eggs, are safe to eat.

The NFU's avian influenza hub is available here.

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