Dutch order all birds to be kept inside to contain bird flu

Hundreds of chickens close to each other in a shed with no room to move, Netherlands kills 148,000 birds in a week after bird flu outbreaks
Chickens have to stay inside a chicken shed for at least a month in the Netherlands after bird flu outbreaks, Wijk en Aalburg, Netherlands on October 26, 2021, credit: Utrecht Robin/Abaca via Reuters Connect

The Dutch government ordered bird farmers on Wednesday to lock up all their animals in sheds or cages to contain the spread of bird flu. 

Most farmers in the Netherlands already don’t allow their animals to go outside, but now the ones that do aren’t allowed to let their chickens, ducks or other birds walk in fresh air.

“The high number of infections makes it clear that extra precaution is needed”, Dutch minister of agriculture Piet Adema said, adding that there have been several bird flu outbreaks at bird factory farms in the past two months.

On Tuesday, the Netherlands killed around 102,000 chickens on a farm in the northern city of Kiel-Windeweer after bird flu was detected. Their bodies were destroyed.

France has also seen a spike in bird flu cases after experiencing its worst-ever bird flu wave earlier this year.

The spread of bird flu around the world has raised concerns among governments and the farming industry. “There were sometimes outbreaks in the winter, and not every year, but now we see the virus stays around all year, also in the summer,” Nancy Beerens, a bird flu expert at the Wageningen Bioveterinary Research (WBVR), told the newspaper The Guardian

Whenever an animal is infected with bird flu, the only response governments have is to kill the animal and all other animals around him.

Dutch virologist Thijs Kuiken said 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.”

He added that the highly pathogenic H5N1 type of bird flu, which has been spreading through Europe, emerged due to intensive bird farming.

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

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