Avian flu advice highlights the risks attached to running multi-species sites

The advantage of single-species sites, free from “backyard poultry”, has been highlighted by a leading veterinary consultant, commenting on how some businesses were caught up in the recent avian flu outbreak.

Noting the “unexpected consequences” of running multi-species sites within the affected area, ACMC veterinary consultant, Paul Thompson, has urged pig farmers to take a close look at the structure of their business.

“Wherever possible sites should be single-species only,” he said, adding that due consideration should also be given to the risks posed by small numbers of backyard poultry to potential movement restrictions on the primary enterprise.

The advice is given against the recent experience of pig producers who were located within the 10 km surveillance zone, surrounding the recent outbreak in Yorkshire, who were initially “unable to move their pigs if poultry have been on the same site”.

“Later in the process,” he added, “it has been necessary to have a veterinary inspection before each and every movement off these sites, evidently an added expense!”

NFU comment

The latest update, meanwhile, on the Yorkshire outbreak from NFU chief poultry adviser, Gary Ford, includes advice to farmers to be “vigilant and practice enhanced biosecurity all of the time”.

“Also, make sure that your farm visitor books are up-to-date and completed accurately,” he said. “Defra is currently investigating 173 tracing visits that have had some contact with the duck farm (at the centre of the outbreak).  An up-to-date and accurate visitor book is a cornerstone in helping Defra to undertake this vital work in a timely and effective manner.”

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