30,000 Christmas turkeys to be culled in bird flu outbreak

Norfolk turkeys. Picture: Matthew Usher.

A bird flu case has been confirmed at a turkey farm near Attleborough

Up to 30,000 Christmas turkeys will be culled at a Norfolk farm after an outbreak of bird flu.

Animal health officials have confirmed the highly-pathogenic H5N8 strain of avian influenza in rearing turkeys at a premises near Attleborough.

A Defra spokesman said: "All birds on the infected premises will be humanely culled to limit the spread of the disease. 

"A 3km Protection Zone and a 10km Surveillance Zone have been put in place around the infected premises to limit the risk of the disease spreading."

Protection Zone and Surveillance Zone for Norfolk bird flu outbreak December 2020

A 3km Protection Zone and 10km Surveillance Zone have been put in place around a turkey farm near Attleborough where an outbreak of bird flu was confirmed on December 4. - Credit: Defra

Those zones include increased biosecurity and reporting requirements for poultry keepers including isolating or housing birds, restrictions on the movement of poultry, eggs, meat and carcases. For full details, see the declaration notice on Defra's website.

There have been a growing number of bird flu cases across the country this year, but this is the first time the "highly pathogenic" strain has been confirmed in Norfolk since 2017.

On Friday, chief vets announced that a mandatory housing order would be enforced from December 14, requiring all poultry keepers, including free-range and back-yard flocks, to keep their birds indoors to prevent the spread of the disease.

Public Health England (PHE) 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.

  • Bird flu is a notifiable animal disease. Poultry keepers and members of the public should report dead wild birds to the Defra helpline on 03459 33 55 77 and keepers must report suspicion of disease to APHA on 03000 200 301.