Poultry global roundup: Chinese researcher warns of H5 vaccine losing its effectiveness

Warnings of the H5N1 vaccine losing its effectiveness and a 32% increase in the value of Brazilian imports into the EU are featured in this month’s Poultry World global roundup.

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French poultry processing giant Doux Group has closed three sites and cut 647 jobs in an effort to reduce its losses.

The company announced the reorganisation of its fresh meat activities in France as it faced major losses. The Morbihan region of Brittany is particularly hard hit with two factory closures – a turkey and a duck processing facility.

The third plant to close is located near Chatelet in central France and processes broilers.

A spokesman said: “The French market represents 37% of our turnover. It is, therefore, important in these difficult times that we do everything to preserve our market share. It is to safeguard the fresh poultry activity in France.”

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Members of the European Parliament’s Intergroup on the Welfare and Conservation of Animals have called on poultry companies to stop killing millions of male chicks by embracing new technology.

Neil Parish, president of the intergroup, said: “We strongly encourage industry to take up the challenge of finding ways to avoid the mass killing of male chicks. Killing millions of these animals each year is just a waste.

“Molecular genetic methods could be used to determine sex in unincubated eggs. This would make it possible to prevent these eggs developing into male chicks, which would have to be killed at a later stage,” he said.

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A Chinese expert has warned that a poultry vaccine designed to protect poultry in Hong Kong from H5 avian flu has lost its effectiveness over the past seven years of use.

In a recent article in the South China Morning Post newspaper, Yuen Kwok-yung, who heads the microbiology department at the University of Hong Kong said that the virus is shifting away from the Fujian strain that the vaccine was developed for.

He urged the banning of all live chickens from markets before the vaccine becomes completely ineffective. “It takes time for the manufacturers to produce new vaccines,” he stressed.

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Brazil has seen a 32% increase in the value of chicken meat exports to the EU in the first half of this year, compared with the same period in 2007.

According to figures published by the Brazilian Poultry Exporters Association (ABEF), the EU was the third main buyer, with imports of $764m (£382m). Trade totalled 283,000 tonnes, a growth of 4%.

The Middle East remained the leading foreign market, followed by Asia. ABEF believes that the performance in the second half of the year should remain positive.