Bird flu outbreak sparks prevention plea to backyard poultry keepers

Poultry keepers have been urged to step up their prevention efforts against bird flu

Poultry keepers have been urged to step up their prevention efforts against bird flu following an outbreak in north Norfolk - Credit: Archant

Following a Norfolk bird flu outbreak, keepers of backyard flocks have been urged to help keep the devastating disease away from the county's valuable poultry industry.

A case of avian influenza was confirmed on Sunday in a "very small" flock of pet chickens and turkeys at a residential property on the Holkham estate near Wells.

Defra has since confirmed the birds had a highly-pathogenic strain of the virus and will be humanely culled, while a 3km Protection Zone and a 10km Surveillance Zone have been enforced around the premises.

The disease is a major threat to the East of England's poultry industry, which produces more than 40pc of the nation's turkeys and employs about 14,000 people to grow and process poultry meat with a value estimated at £557m in 2018.

So, after a series of outbreaks in domestic and commercial premises across the rest of the country, poultry keepers of all sizes have been urged to step up their prevention efforts.

NFU East Anglia regional director Gary Ford. Picture: Pagepix

NFU East Anglia regional director Gary Ford - Credit: Pagepix

Gary Ford, East Anglia regional director for the National Farmers' Union (NFU), said: “These latest outbreaks are concerning news, but sadly not unexpected. 

“We would urge all poultry keepers, including members of the public with pet birds, a backyard flock or smallholding, to continue practicing enhanced biosecurity at all times.

“It remains crucial that everyone who keeps poultry maintains a close watch on them and reports any signs of disease in their birds at the earliest opportunity. There is good advice on the government’s website about what to look out for.

Most Read

“East Anglia poultry farmers will continue to practice good biosecurity and their top priority remains the health and welfare of their flocks.”

national bird flu prevention zone was declared earlier this month to prevent the spread of the disease which prompted culls of thousands of turkeys and ducks in East Anglia last winter.

It has now become a legal requirement for all bird keepers - whether large commercial farms or back-yard hobbyists - to follow strict biosecurity measures to protect their flocks.

UK food and health agencies advise that the risk to public health from the virus is very low and that avian influenzas pose a very low food safety risk for consumers. 

Dead wild birds should be reported to Defra’s helpline on 03459 33 55 77 and poultry keepers should report suspicion of disease to APHA on 03000 200 301.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter