Highly pathogenic avian influenza has been confirmed at two turkey farms in Norfolk – and all birds will be culled to limit the spread of the disease.
Defra said the H5N8 strain had been confirmed at one farm near Kings Lynn and another in west Norfolk on Saturday (5 December).
A 3km protection and 10km surveillance zone has been put in place around the infected sites.
On Friday (4 December) the H5N8 strain of avian flu was confirmed on a turkey farm near Attleborough, Norfolk.
Nine cases of avian influenza in poultry or other captive birds have now been confirmed in England this year (see below).
In response, all free-range poultry will have to be housed from 14 December after Defra announced the introduction of a new housing order affecting England, Wales and Scotland.
The new measures mean it will be a legal requirement for all bird keepers – including those with small backyard flocks – to keep their birds indoors and to follow strict biosecurity in order to limit the spread of the disease and help eradicate it.
The housing order will stay in place until the government deems the risk has passed.
Robert Gooch, chief executive of the British Free Range Egg Producers Association, said the epidemic had developed more quickly than in 2016/2017.
“Comparing back to 2016/17 when we had our last epidemic of high path, we reached a total of nine cases and the eighth one happened on 14 February, so this time it has come much earlier and we are in for the long haul. And it looks like it will be far more severe and widespread.”
Mr Gooch said farmers were preparing for the housing order by adding in-house enrichments to help reduce bird stress levels.
“Farmers are buying lucerne bales and pecking blocks to keep the birds active and try to replicate foraging behaviour they would be doing out in the range. Good dry, friable litter is more important now the birds won’t be able to forage outside.”
Avian influenza: Cases in England
- Low pathogenic avian influenza H5N2 confirmed on 2 November at a premises near Deal, Kent
- Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N8 confirmed on 2 November at a site near Frodsham, Cheshire
- HPAI H5N8 confirmed on 10 November in broiler breeder chickens at a site near Leominster, Herefordshire
- HPAI H5N8 confirmed in captive birds at a wetland centre (non-poultry site) near Stroud, Gloucestershire
- HPAI H5N8 confirmed in poultry and captive birds at a site near Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire
- HPAI H5N8 confirmed in turkeys at a site near Northallerton, Hambleton, North Yorkshire
- HPAI H5N8 confirmed in turkeys at a second site near Northallerton, Hambleton, North Yorkshire
- HPAI H5N8 confirmed in turkeys at a site near Attleborough, Norfolk
- HPAI H5N8 confirmed in turkeys at a site near King’s Lynn, and a site in west Norfolk