By Matt Donald, pig & poultry farmer, north Yorkshire
As I write this there has been one outbreak of bird flu in North Yorkshire, following last year’s severe eruption of cases here, many people are worried the same will happen again, I only hope a national, as opposed to regional housing order comes in before more cases appear and it is too late. All the evidence points at the fact that it is becoming endemic in native wild birds, meaning a vaccine may be our only way of keeping birds outside. This will involve some joined up thinking internationally, so no barriers to trade are introduced purely because of vaccine use.
Every time you hear geese pass by overhead a slight shiver runs down your spine and it is just a constant reminder to never get complacent with biosecurity. Perimeter security is essential but ultimately it is at the doorway into the unit where the biggest risk is pose; all staff should be well aware by now of protocols of boot dipping and changing on any poultry site.
Taking a step back and looking at your unit for ten minutes to spot any weak areas with regards possible paths for AI to come in may be the best 10 minutes you spend at work this winter, and if you spot an area of weakness then make sure it is improved instantly.
There is increasing risk associated with farming poultry, not only due to AI but also volatile input costs, specifically energy and feed. I only hope going forwards retailers recognise the daily strains and stresses this has on farming businesses and the people involved. Is it still worth placing birds some people ask?
Let us hope we are rewarded for this risk and there remains fairness within the supply chain, largely because it is the farmer who is currently taking 100% of the risk and that is not fair.