Cull of 30,000 turkeys completed in battle to contain bird flu outbreak

Poultry farms with more than 40,000 birds need a permit for intensive farming from the Environment A

A cull of 30,000 turkeys has been completed at a farm in Snetterton which was the site of one of two Norfolk bird flu outbreaks at the weekend. - Credit: PA

Around 30,000 turkeys have been culled at one of two Norfolk farms infected with bird flu, as the region's poultry industry prepares for new lockdown measures to contain the outbreak.

A highly-pathogenic strain of avian influenza was confirmed this weekend at North Farm in Snetterton, near Attleborough, and at a turkey farm in East Winch, near King's Lynn.

Defra has confirmed that "culling operations have been completed at the premises near Attleborough", which housed 30,000 turkeys, "and are ongoing at the premises near King’s Lynn", where there were 25,000.

A 3km Protection Zone and 10km Surveillance Zone have also been put in place around each farm, including increased biosecurity and reporting requirements for poultry keepers and restrictions on the movement of poultry, eggs, meat and carcases.

But more widespread precautions will come into force on Monday when a mandatory housing order will make it a legal requirement for all bird keepers – whether they run commercial poultry businesses or small backyard flocks – to keep their birds indoors and to "follow strict biosecurity measures to try to eradicate the disease".

NFU East Anglia regional director Gary Ford. Picture: Pagepix

NFU East Anglia regional director Gary Ford - Credit: Pagepix

Gary Ford, regional director for the National Farmers' Union (NFU) in East Anglia, said it was crucial for all bird keepers to follow the new rules to stop the virus which has already had a devastating effect on the region's poultry industry in the critical run-up to Christmas.

“These two cases, and the significant number of wild birds being found with avian influenza across the country, highlight the crucial need for all poultry keepers to exercise enhanced biosecurity, vigilance and prompt reporting," he said. 

“New housing measures for all poultry will be in force from Monday and we would urge everyone, whether they have commercial flocks or pets in their garden, to check the requirements and prepare now.

“With so many cases, so early in the winter, it is clear this disease will pose a considerable challenge to poultry keepers for several months to come.”

A Defra spokesman said, to help bird keepers comply with the new rules, it has updated biosecurity guidance and published a new biosecurity self-assessment checklist. All the latest advice can be found online at Defra's avian influenza pages.

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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.

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