UK poultry farmers are calling for birds to be kept indoors to combat rising bird flu. With outbreaks on the rise in recent weeks, the industry desperately wants nationwide house rules.
Last year, the UK faced its largest bird flu outbreak on record, with more than 160 confirmed cases since late October 2021.
Meanwhile, the recent global outbreak of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) has limited the supply of eggs amid increasing demand. This combination has led to the recent sharp rise in prices. HPAI is an industry concern that struggles to maintain sufficient inventory levels to meet current demand.
But in the UK, the poultry and egg sector wants to do more to tackle the outbreak, especially with the festive season just around the corner.
The call for UK housing regulations – indoor bird keeping – follows closely the mandatory housing regulations for all poultry and captive birds in several parts of England.
The regulation states that those who keep birds, whether for commercial or pet purposes, are subject to the poultry and captive bird protection regulation.
The new legal requirement requires all bird keepers in these hotspots to keep their birds indoors and is mandated by the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and by Christine Middlemiss, UK’s Chief Veterinary Officer. This means that strict biosecurity measures must be followed as advised.
The new containment measures build on enhanced biosecurity measures introduced last month as part of the Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ), which covers parts of Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex.
AIPZ means that all birdkeepers must take special precautions such as: These include limiting access to non-essential people on site, ensuring workers change clothing and shoes before entering bird enclosures, and limiting the risk of spreading disease. This includes cleaning and disinfecting the vehicle regularly to
The housing measures were introduced because the disease was detected at 16 farms in the disaster area from the beginning of September, and there were several reports of wild birds.
“Avian flu cases are on the rise among commercial farms and backyard birds in Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex, and the risk is expected to continue to rise in the coming months as migratory birds return to the UK,” said Middlemiss.
“We are now taking further action to protect our herds from this highly contagious and devastating disease. must continue to be complied with, and the next few days should be used to prepare the birds and bring them indoors.”
The UK Health Security Agency continues to advise that the risk to public health from the virus is very low, and the Food Standards Authority’s recommendation that avian flu poses a very low food safety risk to UK consumers has not changed.
Properly cooked poultry and poultry products, including eggs, are safe to eat.
Parts of Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex will continue to have localized housing measures in place until further notice.
Meanwhile, the poultry sector remains under pressure as the avian flu persistence shows no signs of abating.
Source: Food Ingredients