The NFU is continuing to support its members through the onslaught of avian influenza and welcomes Defra’s announcement that new mandatory housing measures will be implemented in England from 7th November.


One turkey producer has described the current wave of avian flu as: "The foot and mouth of the poultry industry at the moment."

The news comes after the NFU held a roundtable meeting with Defra’s biosecurity minister, Lord Benyon, and farming minister, Mark Spencer MP, and stressed the need for national housing measures. The measures for all poultry and captive birds are to be introduced to all areas of England from 00:01 on Monday 7th November, following a decision by the United Kingdom’s chief veterinary officer.

NFU poultry board chair James Mottershead said: “As poultry producers, the health and welfare of our birds is our number one priority, and these housing measures alongside the existing additional biosecurity requirements will help minimise the impact of avian influenza on the poultry sector.

“These measures apply to all poultry keepers, whether you have one hen in the garden or a large poultry business, and I urge everyone to remain vigilant.

“This is a really challenging time for the British poultry sector but producers are doing all they can to protect their birds and to maintain production of poultry meat and eggs, especially as we approach Christmas.

“The NFU will continue to work with the government and the wider supply chain to minimise the impacts of avian influenza, both now and in the future.”

Richard Griffiths from the British Poultry Council said: "The free-range side of the sector has been heavily hit and, at the moment, we are seeing numbers of about 30-35% of free-range production either being directly affected by the disease or culled because of it."

Speaking to the BBC, turkey producer Paul Kelly said: "Farmers can't be put out of business because of a few months when they have had to bring them inside. The consumer has to acknowledge the fact that these are extraordinary times."

He added: "This is the worst year I have ever known in my whole life and business, by a long way. It is the foot and mouth of the poultry industry at the moment. It is, in East Anglia, absolutely devastating."

Chief vet, Christine Middlemiss, said: "We are now facing this year, the largest ever outbreak of bird flu and are seeing rapid escalation in the number of cases on commercial farms and in backyard birds across England. The risk of kept birds being exposed to disease has reached a point where it is now necessary for all birds to be housed until further notice.

"Scrupulous biosecurity and separating flocks in all ways, from wild birds remain the best form of defence. Whether you keep just a few birds or thousands, from Monday 7th November onwards you must keep your indoors. This decision has not been taken lightly, but is the best way to protect your birds from this highly infectious disease."

This story was originally published on a previous version of the Meat Management website and so there may be some missing images and formatting issues.