Pheasants with Newcastle disease came from France

THE POULTRY industry has raised concerns over the time DEFRA vets are taking to cull 9000 imported pheasants on a farm in Surrey, following the discovery of the highly contagious Newcastle Disease.

Working with DEFRA, French authorities have traced the infection to a large game bird farm in the Loire Atlantique area and the French have imposed a voluntary ban on all pheasant exports to the UK.

This consignment was the only one from the French farm to the UK since June 1.

While Newcastle Disease is a notifiable Disease, most commercial layers and broilers are routinely vaccinated against the virus.

However, speaking to FARMERS WEEKLY four days after the disease was discovered, NFU poultry adviser Maria Ball said the NFU was concerned that a proportion of the birds were still alive.

“DEFRA is having problems killing these semi-wild birds that have been effectively released.”

The last outbreak occurred in 1997 with nearly 650,000 birds slaughtered.