As Britain's second case of the virulent H5N1 strain of avian flu is found on a farm on the Norfolk/Suffolk border, Compassion in World Farming urges consumers not to loose confidence in free range farming.
How the disease reached the UK this time is not yet known, but we are reminding consumers and producers of the links between highly pathogenic disease and intensive farming.
The infected free range farm is an unfortunate victim of the booming international poultry industry, which has grown by 300% worldwide over the past two decades. The recent outbreak of bird flu in no way insinuates that free range farming has played a role in the emergence of avian flu in Britain or internationally.
Chief Executive of Compassion in World Farming, Philip Lymbery said:
"Although the recent outbreak of H5N1 is located on a free range poultry farm, the root cause of this strain of avian flu must not be forgotten, namely intensive poultry farming."
"We urge consumers to continue to support free range farmers by choosing to buy free range poultry products and avoid supporting industrial farming processes that cause great suffering to millions of poultry every year."
Intensively farmed birds, such as those infected in February, are often kept in their tens of thousands in overcrowded conditions that provide an ideal breeding ground for disease. The potential for further mutation of the disease is significantly increased on such farms in comparison to free range farms, due to such high stocking densities and chronic stress experienced by the birds.
Of the 6,500 birds, approximately 10% of the birds died in the shed from the virus and the remaining were being slaughtered using containerised gas. Compassion in World Farming is told that the slaughter was carried out as humanely as possible under the circumstances and congratulates Defra on this front.
We are asking you to join us in our campaign to expose the indisputable link between intensive poultry production and avian flu and prevent a disaster waiting to happen.
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