20 January 2018 | Online since 2003

17 October 2017

BEIC Comment - October 2017


As we move into the autumn bird migratory season, the threat from avian influenza will increase. It is therefore worth reiterating the importance of maintaining high standards of biosecurity and having in place an effective contingency plan.

Without doubt this issue has dominated the BEIC agenda over the past year, with the first of the H5N8 HPAI cases detected last autumn. The work that has been carried out at both UK and EU level has, I believe, put us in a better position to where we were 12 months ago.

Last month the Commission published its response to the consultation on an amendment to Commission Regulation 589/2008 (the egg marketing regulation) for measures to be put in place to protect free range producers if a future housing order, due to e.g. AI, should go over the 12-week period. This can be seen by clicking here.

This ‘delegated’ Regulation was adopted on 20th September. It is now under a two-month scrutiny period by the European Parliament and Council. If it is not vetoed, the Regulation will be published during the last week of November and enter into force three days later. In summary, the 12-week period is increased to 16 weeks, and the ‘clock start’ on the 16-week period will be from housing of a new flock of laying hens.

At a recent meeting with CVOs, I argued that we would not welcome any housing order before 1st January, on the basis that 1st January to the end April is approximately 16 weeks, and the end of April is usually when the threat of AI wanes as temperatures rise. That said, if the disease situation necessitated a housing order to be put in place on e.g. 1st December, we would not object. However, if due to the ongoing disease threat, this was to remain in place into spring the following year, this would 

take us over 16 weeks. In this scenario, our position is that, we would label packs again to protect producers and the industry.

I am delighted to announce that the final report on "An Industry funded Risk Assessment (RA) in supporting a review of the requirements for Secondary C&D (Notifiable Avian Diseases)", which was recently published, has led to the APHA protocols for secondary C&D on an infected premises being amended.

This work was commissioned when BEIC held the Chair and Secretariat of the Poultry Health and Welfare Group, and was jointly funded by BEIC and BPC.

We commissioned the report with a view to providing the evidence to Defra/APHA that could give them the confidence to amend the protocols for dealing with a premises infected with AI or ND. APHA are to field test the amended protocols in the next few weeks.

What this means in practice is that the requirement to dismantle complicated equipment on an IP will be withdrawn, saving time and therefore cost.

Official supervision of the IP in carrying out secondary C&D will continue, as will work to deal with manure, bedding, etc, plus ensuring proper rodent control. Anything that comes into contact with birds such as drinkers, feeders, floors, nest boxes, perches etc, will require full C&D, but the so-called complicated areas will not now need to be dismantled.

We also expect that the amended protocols will lead to a review of the insurance policies on offer.

This brings me onto the Poultry Health and Welfare Group roadshows which are being run again this year. You will get the chance to hear from vets, APHA and insurers about an array of avian influenza issues.