News 3958 views update:Mar 9, 2016

AI outbreak costing UK poultry industry dearly

Lost export markets are costing the UK poultry sector dear following the outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza on an egg farm in Lancashire last month.

The outbreak of H7N7 on the farm near Preston led to the death of 36,000 birds and the slaughter of 144,000 more, and prompted a number of countries to close their doors again to British poultry and eggs.

Trade bans on UK poultry

According to Defra, Australia, Japan, Kenya, Singapore, South Africa and St Vincent are currently imposing country bans on UK poultry, while the United Arab Emirates is banning poultry from England only. Hong Kong, Turkey and Russia are taking a regional approach, banning product from Lancashire.

"We are working closely with veterinary authorities across the world to limit the trade impact and reopen export routes as soon as possible," said a Defra spokesman.

Six months of restrictions

One company affected is layer genetics company Hy-Line – even though it has no production in the affected area of Lancashire. "We believe the most recent HPAI outbreak in the UK will result in a minimum of six months of import restrictions to third countries that require country freedom from HPAI," said company president, Jonathan Cade.

"This will result in more than £1.5m of lost business to Asia, Africa and India from our UK operation over the next six months. This is in addition to many more millions already lost as a result of the last outbreak." Cade said it was essential that premises affected by HPAI were cleaned and disinfected quickly, to OIE requirements, so that "country freedom" could be reinstated as soon as possible. "You can be assured that Hy-Line's long-term viability to supply layer breeding stock from our operation in the UK is certain," he added.

Disruption to EU hatching egg trade

Hatchery business Joice and Hill near Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, also complained that it had lost business, including the sale of 300,000 hatching eggs to a customer in the Middle East, which was cancelled this week. With Germany also reporting a case of HPAI this week, managing director Nick Bailey predicted disruption to the whole EU hatching egg trade.

Philip Clarke

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