Farmers' alert for bird flu

PUBLISHED: 04:48 20 April 2006 | UPDATED: 09:10 24 May 2010

POULTRY farmers and bird enthusiasts in Somerset and North Somerset are holding their breath now bird flu has been found in the UK. Large scale indoor poultry farmers in the Cheddar area are waiting for more news after a swan was found infected with the d

POULTRY farmers and bird enthusiasts in Somerset and North Somerset are holding their breath now bird flu has been found in the UK.Large scale indoor poultry farmers in the Cheddar area are waiting for more news after a swan was found infected with the deadly disease in Scotland.Chris Lukins, who owns a 100,000 strong flock of chickens in Axbridge said: "We've been on a slightly higher alert since the middle of last year when bird flu was found in Europe."This incident of a bird in Scotland hasn't really made any difference though."My chickens don't go outside and as long as bio security remains good, it is very unlikely we will get bird flu."The retail side is much more worrying. In Europe sales really dropped off when the disease came. I've been told that sales haven't dropped off at all in this country."The owners of some famous chickens in Weston are preparing for a possible outbreak of avian flu.Adrian and Jackie Collins, who run a 24-hour live internet link to their Moorland Road chicken coop, have already taken precautionary measures.But the couple have assured people logging into their webcam www.ourchickens.com to see hens Pauline Fowler and Tikka that the virus will not spell the end for Hen TV.Adrian, whose website has had nearly 40,000 new visitors since September 2002, said: "We have had to register the hens with DEFRA and I think North Somerset Council want us to register with it as well."I've heard on the chicken owners' grapevine that we may have to cover up our coops, which would be a shame. Luckily the webcam has an infra-red function so it would still be worth logging on."It's all quite worrying for us, but the hens don't seem to be too bothered."Veteran pigeon fancier Wesley Selway, of Quab Lane, in Wedmore, says the Scotland find has disturbed the racing calendar.Wesley, a national pigeon racing champion, said: "Racers are obviously concerned because they can only race from this country now, not from Europe."If bird flu were to take hold here then that is it. Our pigeons would be quarantined to the loft and we wouldn't even be able to exercise them."In Holland I've heard that if you are found to have let them out they would come round and destroy the birds.

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