Farming column with Sam Walton

How do we protect our geese, turkeys, ducks and chickens from bird flu?
How do we protect our geese, turkeys, ducks and chickens from bird flu?

We have a lot of free range poultry in the UK, which include geese, turkeys, ducks and of course laying hens.

We may well be an island but that does not necessarily protect us from diseases on the continent.

A two-metre strip along the side of a field.

A two-metre strip along the side of a field.

Mid November there was a warning that bird flu had broken out in Europe and farmers with outdoor poultry were asked to be cautious incase the disease spread across here.

I think it was 2014 the last time we ‘inherited’ bird flu and I sincerely hope it does not land on our shores as it causes devastation.

How do we protect ourselves from that?

Will it come with migrating birds, either large or small? Probably not but there will be a risk.

So what do we do, do we fasten the birds indoors or take pot luck? It was suggested that the last outbreak was due to the importation of poultry from Europe. Surely we can produce enough here to not have to import.

There is always a thought that it might be cheaper from abroad but I have always maintained that imported meat in particular cannot be cheaper if the countries involved abide by the same high standards as our industry has to adhere to.

I have seen some of the things which happen in part of Europe, things which would not be allowed here as we gold plate all the rules and then add some, and then we would be fined!

The public may not know but by EEC law we have to leave two metres from the middle of a hedge unploughed all the way along that hedge as part of helping nature.

I have no problem with that but when I cannot find any in France as they say there it is only one metre so not worth bothering with, yet still get paid, it makes me wonder why we bother to farm.