the return of avian influenza worries the poultry industry

Despite the establishment of new protocols supposed to prevent the death of previous years, the migration period remains a source of concern for breeders.

«As I speak to you, there are four outbreaks that have been detected on metropolitan soil“. Invited Wednesday morning to speak on the presence of bird flu in the country, the Minister of Agriculture and Food, Julien Denormandie, warned that the threat had not disappeared. He nevertheless wanted to be reassuring, insisting on the implementation of new prevention protocols. These should make it possible to avoid the epidemic of last year and the slaughter that followed. Expectations are also high on the side of professionals in the sector still traumatized by the previous episodes.

«These are isolated cases, found in backyards in private homes and not in farms.“. At the cabinet of the Ministry of Agriculture, the importance of these new cases of contamination discovered in the Aisne and the Ardennes is put into perspective. At present, “there is no worry on the subject», We insist. Instead, we prefer to highlight new prevention measures. They consist in preventing contact between farm animals and migratory birds which could transmit the virus. This involves the installation of nets above the farms, or the temporary confinement of gallinaceae and other palmipeds.

A measure long requested by the National Interprofessional Association of Broiler Poultry (Anvol). However “we are on the alert“, Admits its president Jean-Michel Schaeffer. These contaminations “ arrive particularly earlyHe adds. As proof that the phenomenon is taken seriously, the government has raised the level of risk from low to moderate. For as much France keeps for the moment its statute “unharmed»From the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE). An essential sesame for professionals: “it allows the markets to be open to export», Explains Jean-Michel Schaeffer.

3.5 million animals slaughtered last year

Avian influenza is a disease particularly present among wild birds. Highly contagious, the disease tends to be transmitted to breeding poultry during migration periods in late fall, when the animals descend to the south. «There are two corridors used, one that runs along the Atlantic and another that follows the Rhine then the Rhône», Explains Jean-Michel Schaeffer. Depending on the year, each person’s frequentation varies and therefore the risk of contamination as well. “In 2020 the Atlantic arc had been more followed», He underlines, which explains why the southwest was particularly affected.

The past year has been especially tough for this region. If fifteen departments were struck, the Landes, the Gers and the Pyrénées-Atlantiques concentrated 95% of the outbreaks. In total, more than 3.5 million animals have been slaughtered, often preventively, in an attempt to stem an epidemic that has become “out of control”, according to a breeder. “The moral and economic consequences have been terrible, remembers the president of Anvol, the impact was 300 million euros on the southwest last year“. A situation that the profession wants at all costs to avoid reliving.

It is, however, too early to speculate on the severity of the epidemic this year. “Usually the migrations arrive in November, underlines Jean-Michel Schaeffer, but it varies depending on the temperatures“. It is only once this episode has passed that a first good can be drawn.

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