France to kill millions of chickens and ducks to stop bird flu from spreading

Chickens, photo: Christin Hume on Unsplash
Chickens, photo: Christin Hume on Unsplash

France will kill millions of chickens, ducks, and other farms birds to try to contain avian influenza outbreaks, the agriculture ministry said on Friday. The animals’ bodies will be destroyed.

So far, authorities have slaughtered 1.2 million birds in the Pays de la Loire region and expect to kill another 3 million animals. In January, France killed around 4 million birds after several bird flu outbreaks in the southwest of the country.

Bird flu in the Netherlands
In the Netherlands, around 40,000 chickens were killed at a farm in Lunteren where bird flu was detected, the Ministry of Agriculture said on Thursday. 

Almost 60,000 animals at three farms in the area will also be killed as a preventive measure. The Netherlands has killed and destroyed more than a million chickens this year due to bird flu.

Intensive animal farming
Europe is struggling with bird flu outbreaks. Dutch virologist Thijs Kuiken of Erasmus University Rotterdam said intensive bird farming is to blame for the highly pathogenic H5N1 strain of bird flu.

“Normally, wild birds only carry the low-pathogenic variant. In intensive poultry farming, this mild flu mutated into a serious variant,” Kuiken said. 

“In the long term, we have to realize that the intensive way of raising animals, with a huge number of animals huddled together in one spot, is no longer sustainable for many reasons,” Kuiken added.

“If we don’t stop doing that, we will automatically encounter another outbreak of bird flu or a still unknown ‘disease X’,” he concluded.

The Animal Reader is a small independent animal news platform based in the Netherlands. Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

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