Poultry farmers asked to help to keep Lincolnshire free from avian flu

GPs are urging parents in Horsham and Mid Sussex to protect their children against the flu
GPs are urging parents in Horsham and Mid Sussex to protect their children against the flu

Local farmers are being urged to follow Government advice on keeping their poultry safe from avian flu.

The Government Chief Vet has announced measures to help protect poultry and captive birds from a strain of avian flu circulating in mainland Europe. No cases have been found in the UK and this is a precautionary measure to help prevent potential infection.

For the next 30 days, keepers of poultry and other captive birds are required to keep them indoors, or take appropriate steps to keep them separate from wild birds. Even when birds are housed a risk of infection remains so this must be coupled with good biosecurity measures, for example disinfecting clothing and equipment.

People are also advised to be vigilant for any signs of disease in their birds and any wild birds, and seek prompt advice from their vet if they have any concerns.

Coun Colin Davie, Executive Member for Economic Development, said: “Lincolnshire has more than a hundred poultry businesses with millions of chickens and other breeds, so it’s vital we heed this message.

“So far we haven’t had any cases reported in the UK, and with the appropriate precautions I hope we can keep it that way.

“I’m sure many of our businesses have already taken the necessary steps. Yesterday, I visited L J Fairburn & Son, one of the largest egg producers and packers in the UK. I was pleased to see that they had the highest level of biosecurity measures in place to keep their poultry safe.

“I’d urge all other poultry farmers to follow their lead and help protect this vital part of the county economy.”

Sarah-Louise Fairburn, brand and sales manager at L J Fairburn, added: “All of our farm managers and contract producers were personally contacted immediately following release of the statement issued yesterday to ensure that all birds were housed with immediate effect due to the increasing threat of Avian Influenza reaching UK soil.

“We take the welfare of our hens incredibly seriously and if the birds were to come into contact with AI it would be devastating and deadly to all hens contaminated and AI spreads incredibly quickly.

“We are closely monitoring our hens wellbeing whilst they are housed to prevent them from catching this deadly virus.

“We are being advised by industry welfare experts and veterinary practitioners to monitor the welfare of our hens even more vigilantly during this period.

“The Government’s housing order is something we at Fairburn’s support as a proactive move to ensure the health and welfare of our birds during this period of elevated risk.

“Prevention is key in protecting the whole UK egg and poultry meat supply chain and we are fully committed to protecting our livestock.”

Defra is continuing to monitor the situation closely and has increased its surveillance activity.

• For further information, visit https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-measures-to-protect-poultry-against-avian-flu