The heaviest variant of avian flu found, national obligation to house poultry


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Last week, seven dead mute swans were found on the land of farmer Wim de Wit (59) in Kockengen. Two of these turned out to have the most severe form of bird flu: H5N8.

The housing obligation mainly affects poultry farmers who keep so-called laying hens for the eggs, which must be kept indoors as a result of the measure. The housing obligation also applies to other poultry such as turkeys, ducks and chicks. But they are usually already inside. The scheme is aimed at birds intended for the production of meat, eggs or other products.


Chairman Hennie de Haan of the Dutch Poultry Farmers’ Union speaks of a serious situation. She is particularly concerned about the possible spread of the virus via vermin or people who have come into contact with, for example, the excrement of infected birds.

The measure follows the discovery in a meadow in Kockengen: “Last Tuesday I found the first swan. Well, you think can happen. There are always around 50 to 60 swans on the land here, ”says Wim de Wit from the village near Utrecht. Two days later he saw a swan swimming around in the water. A day later he was dead.

“Then I called the hunter. Those men know a lot about it. He didn’t trust it. We found five more swans swimming in circles and dying shortly after. Two pieces have been sent for examination. On Monday we were informed that it was bird flu and on Wednesday it was reported that it is the most serious variant of the bird flu, H5N8. I was told that it is the first time in the Netherlands that this variant has been found. ”


Avian flu can spread to other birds, especially water birds. De Wit checked this with his vet. “The hunter also found a dead wigeon, but we don’t know yet if it died of bird flu.”

There are no poultry farms in the vicinity of Kockengen. And De Wit is not very concerned either. “I did tell the neighbors who have hobby chickens. They have to decide for themselves whether they want to put them in the house. I hope it will not affect the agricultural sector. A fellow farmer from my study group asked if they would still get the milk from me. Fortunately.”

Hennie de Haan reports that dairy farms should not be afraid of a ‘lockdown’. “But we have argued with Minister Schouten for a temporary housing obligation for all poultry farmers in the Netherlands. The strange thing is that mute swans have been affected by the virus. The H5N8 virus comes from Russia and Kazakhstan, but mute swans don’t have flight paths that way. The swans in Kockengen probably took over from other birds. From the point of view of prevention, we are therefore in favor of a national shelter obligation. Only when it is clear where the virus comes from can we take more targeted measures. ”

Ben Dellaert, secretary of Avined (consultation platform for poultry farming, red.), says to be shocked by the reports from Kockengen. “It is early in the season and avian flu is usually found in migratory birds that come to the Netherlands from Siberia. So not with mute swans. The most logical thing is that the ministry, after consultation with the expert team on the poultry sector, will switch to a housing obligation for the poultry farms. I think hobby chickens are excluded. ”

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