Avian influenza is once again making the news after it was reported that it had been detected on a duck farm in the north-east of England. The Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) have since introduced a 10km restriction zone and culled all poultry on the farm to prevent any potential spread of infection. A detailed investigation is also being carried out.
The Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) office should be notified immediately if you suspect that bird flu might be present on your farm. The number of your local APHA can be found online and it is recommended that you store this number should the worse happen.
In the event of an outbreak DEFRA and APHA will dispatch veterinary experts to carry out testing and will implement all other precautionary measures. You will be asked many questions during what will be a time of heightened stress and worry for the family, and therefore APHA have suggested that farmers prepare a Farm Profile which would be used to help all the scientists, policy-makers and veterinary officers who have to make decisions about the outbreak on your farm.
In your Farm Profile, which will need updating periodically, APHA would like you to answer the following questions:
- The location of your business
- Number of sites and their location
- What do you do — e.g. broiler breeder, egg producers, turkey farmer
- How many birds you have on site
- Where you get your chicks/pullets
- When, how and where you move birds
- Number of employees
- Layout of the site
- Any contractor details
- Disease history
- Any relevant production issues
- Vaccinations and other health treatments
- Cull and deadstock handling arrangements
- Vet contact details
- Biosecurity protocols
Although time is precious for the working farmer, this could be a valuable tool to help minimise the anxieties faced should you suffer an outbreak.
Please note: This article is a commentary on general principles and should not be interpreted as advice for your specific situation.