Poultry farm at centre of H5N1 avian flu outbreak hits back at newspaper claims

Redgrave Poultry, the company at the centre of the current H5N1 outbreak, has responded to criticism in some newspaper reports that suggest lax biosecurity was to blame for the spread of the virus.

A report in today’s The Times claims the organic free range birds were not kept away from wild birds at an ornamental lake on the farm despite government warnings of the risk of disease transmission during the current migration season.

However, Geoffrey Buchanan, operations director of Redgrave Poultry explained that the turkeys were kept in paddocks during the day with housing available for night time.

“All of their feed and water is provided indoors in order to discourage wildfowl. The turkeys are prevented from accessing the lake on the property by permanent electrified fencing, empty ground and a farm road.”

Mr Buchanan went on to confirm that the four additional units in the restricted zone that are to be culled are also managed by the company. He stressed that no disease has been confirmed on any of these four premises.

“There is a direct link between Redgrave Park farm and these four other farms as they share the same farming staff. Each farm is too small for a dedicated staff, so a small team of people runs this cluster of farms.

But despite bio-security measures when entering and leaving the farms and the fact that there are no results to indicate the presence of H5N1 avian flu at these farms, DEFRA has decided that there is the possibility of a direct link.

“While naturally saddened to see so many birds culled, we fully agree that the primary concern has to be the containment of the outbreak.”

He said that in total, 22,000 free range turkeys will be culled, in addition to the birds at Redgrave Park farm.

The four additional farms are Stone House Farm in West Harling, Bridge Farm in Pulham, Grove Farm in Botesdale, and Hill Meadow in Knetishall.

“We are fully supporting DEFRA and the Veterinary Laboratories Agency in the continued investigation to identify the cause of the outbreak.”