Page 8 - National Poultry Newspaper
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Farm manager Narelle Mollard was devastated when she found out her entire flock of turkeys had to be culled. Photos: ABC News
Poultry flocks in the Golden Plains shire have been under a housing Julie Kos has been farming for 15 years and prides herself on her order since the beginning of August. birds being outside every day.
Victoria’s bird flu and free range farming concerns
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ns WITH Victorian poultry farmers recovering from the worst outbreak of avian influenza the state has experienced, the rise in popularity of free
ing well.
“Like us with coronavi-
numbers of birds in one spot or one shed, means that it spreads very quick- ly.”
Lethbridge at the end of July and there were six farms infected across the state, with three different strains of the virus.
“The more we put out- side, the more risk there is of something like this happening.”
6 range farming has been highlighted as a possible concern.
The recent outbreak was the cause for the first housing order for poul- try being implemented in Australia, and is in place to stop wild birds coming into contact with domestic poultry.
The housing order was in place until the end of September, and has been extended for the restrict- ed area of Golden Plains Shire to Monday October 19, but Dr Cooke said it could be extended.
A Bairnsdale free range turkey farm became in- fected after sick birds were transported from its sister farm at Lethbridge.
Farm Pride Foods was the worst affected compa- ny, having to cull 380,000 birds, which was around a third of its flock.
About 20km from in- fected farms at Stone- haven west of Melbourne, Julie Kos’ birds have been forced to stay inside for the past six weeks.
Victoria’s chief vet- erinary officer Graeme Cooke said, “Commercial birds are more susceptible than wild birds – wild birds don’t show any symptoms.”
“There’s still a high level of virus in that area,” he said.
Farm manager Nar- elle Mollard said around 10,000 birds had been culled across the two farms.
“I think the consumer has in their mind a few hundred chickens running around beautiful green grass and that’s what they buy,” Mr Ahmed said.
“My heart sank when I found out,” she said.
“When we think the time is right – and it’s constantly under review – we will lift that require- ment.”
“I cried, it was devastat- ing,” she said.
“Unfortunately, to pro- duce the volume of eggs the supermarkets want, there needs to be 20, 30, 40,000 birds in a shed.”
“We pride ourselves on our birds being outside every day of the year.
“That susceptibil- ity, coupled with the way modern farming has large
The farm has been un- dergoing the long and ar- duous process of decon- tamination.
“They seem to be cop-
The outbreak started at
“A team of contractors come in to dispose of the turkeys, the litter, the mulch, the soil, anything that a bird could have come into contact with and it was all removed from the site,” Ms Mol- lard said.
CSIRO Australian Ani- mal Health Laboratory molecular microbiolo- gist and research scien- tist Dr Frank Wong said intensive chicken farms provided viruses such as avian influenza with a high population of new hosts.
rus, you just need to get on with it.”
Brian Ahmed has been in the egg industry for 50 years and says large-scale, free
“This was not surpris- ing to me, it’s a numbers game,” he said.
First appeared on abc.
019 2:48:29 PM
range farming is putting the industry at risk.
“It’s opened my eyes, but if you want free range tur- keys as well as chickens, it’s a risk you’ve got to be aware of.”
“There is a chance that the virus, if it mutates to a high pathogenic form, becomes a serious disease and then it becomes very contagious,” he said.
Victorian Farmers Fed- eration egg group presi- dent Brian Ahmed blames outbreaks such as the one at Lethbridge on the rapid rise of large-scale free range farming.
“Then we see the prob- lems we’ve seen in Leth- bridge, where chickens succumb to disease virtu- ally over the course of a few days.”
Leadoux Turkeys in Bairnsdale became infected with avian influenza after sick birds from its sister farm in Lethbridge were transported there.
There are only two producers of free range turkeys
in Victoria.
Page 8 – National Poultry Newspaper, October 2020

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