Avian flu: A production restriction is planned in 68 communes in the southwest, including 8 in the Gers

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Four chambers of agriculture in the south-west have drawn up a roadmap aimed at restricting duck production in 68 communes (including 8 in the Gers) from next season to better combat bird flu.

In the face of bird flu, it’s time to fight back. After a new record national season in terms of the number of contaminations (16 million poultry slaughtered in six months), the poultry sector has decided to roll up its sleeves to better anticipate the next season and limit the risks of spreading the H5N1 virus . .

The Chambers of Agriculture of the Landes, Pyrénées-Atlantiques, Hautes-Pyrénées and Gers met three times in Barcelonne-du-Gers between February and May to draw up a roadmap and “better control a possible episode of influenza”, according to President Bernard Malabirade of the Chamber of Agriculture Gers. “We have worked with the major economic groups in the waterfowl and gallus sectors, the unions of the self-employed and the short-time work sector,” he specifies.

“The risk of spreading the virus is more in the duck than in the poultry”

Assuming that the vaccine, at best, won’t be available until next year, after the experiment started in the Landes and Gers last month, the Chambers of Agriculture have expressed their desire to limit production in the communities that are most densely populated with batches populated by waterfowl and waterfowl are gallus and thus a priori the most exposed. A list of 68 municipalities (of which 8 are in the centre, south and west of the Gers) for the production of waterfowl was created, which has not yet been published. “We decided not to give the names of the communities until we had them validated by the ministry and we had no funding. The roadmap only exists if the authorities and the requested regions follow us. We have identified communities that we for crowded.” in terms of the thresholds we are looking at (essential presence of buildings), some communes in Ducks, others in Gallus,” explains Bernard Malabirade.

Bernard Malabirade (centre), President of the Gers Chamber of Agriculture.

The first stringent measure affects farms that are not self-sufficient, namely those that resort to transporting waterfowl between rearing and force-feeding. Ducks are not allowed to be kept on these farms in the 68 affected communities between December 15 and January 15 inclusive, the period considered to be the most critical for the possible spread of the H5N1 virus. As a reminder, the first case identified this season was reported in Manciet, west of the Gers, in mid-December. The breeding cycle of self-sufficient waterfowl would be extended from three to four weeks.

The second measure affects the 32 communities with the most populations of Gallus batches and hatcheries. In these communities, force-feeding of non-self-sufficient waterfowl would be prohibited between December 15 and January 15, and only force-feeding at a self-sufficient site would be permitted during this period. “This means that in those communities where there is a lot of poultry, we voluntarily reduce the presence of ducks because the risk of spreading the virus is greater in ducks than in poultry, where there is no animal movement,” stresses Bernard Malabirade.

A hoped-for meeting with the minister at the end of June

Among the 12 measures adopted in this roadmap (7 for the long sector and 5 for the short sector), the weekly use of swabs is also recommended, allowing breeders to self-detect any traces of the virus in their building . It should also be noted that fully self-sufficient producers in the short supply chain (from duckling to on-site slaughter) located in the 68 communities affected by these measures would be able to fully maintain their production “provided the rules of the protected .” An exception that will certainly make the advocates of this sector think, as they are convinced that it poses fewer health risks than the long sector in the fight against avian influenza.

One thing is certain: If these measures are taken, self-sufficient agriculture will benefit de facto. So it’s a whole production system that could evolve over the coming months and years. It remains to convince the authorities to take the step. “We hope to have an appointment with the Minister for Agriculture and Food Sovereignty at the end of the month,” concludes Bernard Malabirade.

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