Sunday, February 19, 2006

Bringing the Chickens Home to Roost

A Green chicken farmer writes;

I am very concerned about the impact of being forced to bring all birds
inside ... this has happened in several EU countries including Germany.
This measure may slow the progress of bird flu but it will not prevent it
and it will have a major impact on free range poultry.

I would like advice before making a stand on this issue.

My response:

It is certain that H5N1 Avian will arrive here in wild birds,* and 99.99% certain that it will get into our domestic fowl in one location or other if they are not under cover.

In that case, there will be a very small risk of death to people in contact with infected poultry - so it is in your own personal interest, and that of your family and staff, to bring them under cover. It is also in the interest of your birds, and of your neighbours' birds, to do so, since if one does get ill, there will probably be a big "stamp out" cull, carried out clumsily if FMD 2001 is anything to go by. They may not enjoy being indoors, but they will enjoy being burned alive even less.

We could call for vaccination of chicken flocks, although in view of the resistance of HMG to vaccination of cows and sheep in 2001, I would not hold my breath.

If you do not have space for all your birds inside, then I suggest you kill, freeze, sell, cook and eat as many as you can until you can accommodate them.

The best thing IMHO for humanity would be to take poultry off the menu for a couple of years, until H5N1 in wild birds has settled down into a less virulent form. However this is not politically possible.

This is my advice, as a green medic who has given this a lot of thought.

I am no longer advocating flu vaccination of poultry workers to try to prevent combination with influenza virus. There is evidence to suggest that reassortment of H5N1 Avian with human influenza is the lesser of 2 evils.
The 1918 pandemic was a spontaneous mutation, not involving human influenza, and was much more severe.

Check out GreenHealth for what else we can do.

I sympathise with your difficulty as a poultry keeper, but this is nature that we are dealing with here, and we have to go with the flow sometimes.

Hope this is helpful.

*Actually, this is not the case. It has emerged that the spread of H5N1 is occuring along routes of international poultry trade, not along wild bird migration routes. See April 18th.

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