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Mid Suffolk bird flu outbreak ban lifted

PUBLISHED: 09:20 09 January 2020 | UPDATED: 08:42 10 January 2020

Broiler chickens at a UK farm  Picture: PA

Broiler chickens at a UK farm Picture: PA

A restriction zone around a commercial chicken farm in Mid Suffolk has been lifted after officials deemed it disease-free.

A "low pathogenic" strain of avian influenza - or bird flu - was discovered at Homefield Farm in Athelington, near Eye, on Tuesday, December 10, prompting a mass bird cull.

Government officials culled and disposed of around 28,000 broiler chickens at the farm - which are bred for meat rather than egg production.

MORE - Chicken cull continues as 'thorough' probe into source of bird flu outbreak on farm continues

A 1km restriction zone was imposed, which meant no birds were able to be moved in the area around the farm without a licence to prevent the disease from spreading.

After the cull was completed, Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) staff carried out cleansing and disinfection of the premises.

Normally, restriction zones remain in place for at least 21 days following the initial disinfection at the infected premises, and while APHA officials complete their surveillance to ensure there are no signs of bird flu in the zone.

"From January 8, 2020, the Restricted Zone has been lifted. The Animal and Plant Health Agency has completed surveillance and confirmed there are no signs of bird flu in the zone," the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) said.

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In winter, farmers face an increased risk of avian flu in the UK from migrating wild birds, which can infect domestic poultry.

DEFRA advises anyone keeping poultry, including game birds or as pets, to follow its biosecurity best practice advice - especially if the birds are in a Higher Risk Area (HRA).

Anyone who finds dead wild birds should report them to the Defra helpline on 03459 33 55 77.

"Good biosecurity improves the overall health and productivity of your flock by helping keep out poultry diseases such as avian influenza and limiting the spread of disease in an outbreak," DEFRA said.

"This applies just as much if you only have a few birds as pets, or if you have a large commercial flock. An outbreak of bird flu in back garden chickens results in the same restrictions on movement of birds. It has the same effect on farmers and trade in poultry as an outbreak on a commercial farm."

DEFRA encourages all keepers to register their birds with it so it can contact them quickly if there is a disease outbreak in their area and they need to take action.

Those with more than 50 birds are legally required to register their flocks within one month of their arrival, but those with less than that number should still register, said DEFRA.

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