More turkeys to be culled as precaution

Defra are to cull four more turkey flocks as potentially “dangerous contacts” close to the latest outbreak of bird flu on the Suffolk border.It was decided to slaughter a total of 23,000 turkeys, which are linked to the source of the first case of the H5N1 strain of bird flu as a precaution.

Defra are to cull four more turkey flocks in Norfolk and Suffolk as potentially “dangerous contacts” close to the latest outbreak of bird flu.

Three of the flocks are in Norfolk and one is close to the first infected farm near Redgrave.

Although there is a direct link between Redgrave Park Farm and the other four farms, they share the same staff, so Defra has decided to cull the flocks as a precaution.

A spokesman for Redgrave Poultry said that there are no clinical signs of disease but Defra has decided that there is the possibility of a direct link.

The farms where a total of 22,000 free-range turkeys will be culled are at West Harling, Pulham Market, Botesdale and Knettishall.

It was decided to slaughter a total of 23,000 turkeys, which are linked to the source of the first case of the H5N1 strain of bird flu as a precaution.

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“They've now been identified as 'dangerous contacts” and will be culled out. There is no evidence of disease on any of the premises yet,” an official confirmed today.

Disease has “not been confirmed at all but we're acting on the precautionary principle and culled out.”

An official with Defra said that the birds in the four flocks to be culled are not showing signs of the disease but the culling will be carried out as soon as possible to prevent potential spread of the virus.

All the flocks are within the existing restriction zone, which covers the whole of Suffolk and three districts in Norfolk - South Norfolk, Breckland and Norwich.

The first case of bird flu, which was confirmed yesterday as the H5N1 strain by the government's acting chief vet, Dr Fred Landeg,

was detected in a flock of 5,000 free-range turkeys at Redgrave Poultry on a Redgrave Park Farm, Redgrave.

No decision has yet been taken about the 30,000 geese which are being reared for the Christmas market by Gressingham Foods, which owns Redgrave Poultry.

A Defra official did not have precise knowledge about the fate of the 30,000 geese at Redgrave but didn't think that the cull involved these outdoor birds. “I don't think so but I don't have location details yet. As far as I'm aware all four sites are purely turkeys so I don't think it includes that one.”

The “dangerous contact” cull only involves turkeys and it is thought that most of the flocks are linked to the Woodbridge-based Gressingham Foods operations.

Defra also allowed movement of poultry to slaughter today in the two zones, the 3km and 10km zones, subject to licence.

An official added: “I don't know that they are all necessarily under the same ownership as the IP (first Infected Premises) but people move between them.”

It was also quite possible that staff working on the IP at Redgrave Park Farm might also have been on other units, said Defra.

It will involve culling around 23,000 turkeys in total. “They are all in the restricted zone.”

Defra has no plans to change the zones at this stage. “We will only changes zones if disease is confirmed anywhere.

“I don't know if the sites are particularly close because I don't have all the details. They're not in the immediate area, I think.”

In an official statement, Dr Landeg, said: “Following initial epidemiological work and veterinary assessment, four further premises have been identified as dangerous contacts.”

All poultry on these premises will be culled as a precautionary measure. These premises are within the existing restricted zone,” he added.

He added: “At this stage we have not confirmed disease on any of these four premises. This is a precautionary measure taken to prevent any potential spread of the disease.

“I must stress again that poultry keepers in the area must be extremely vigilant, practice the highest levels of biosecurity and report any suspicions of disease to their local Animal Health office.”

The strain of avian influenza present at the infected premises near Diss was confirmed yesterday as the highly pathogenic H5N1 strain.

This strain is similar to that found in Germany and the Czech Republic during the summer.

Movement restrictions apply in the protection, surveillance and restricted zones. It has been decided today to allow some low-risk movements under general licence, including the movement of poultry to slaughter from outside the surveillance zone to inside and the movement of table eggs to designated packing centres for distribution.

In addition, the movement of day old chicks out of the surveillance zone may be permitted under specific licence from Animal Health.

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