EUROPEAN agriculture ministers have adopted the position that vaccination should become a complementary tool in the fight against avian influenza.

Agricultural ministers made the recommendation following the worst winter for avian influenza on record, citing in particular its ability to cross borders, its economic impact and trade disruption.

See also: Chick placings show laying hen flock size to shrink further

But they said vaccination could only complement existing control measures – namely biosecurity, culling and cleansing policies.

The EU commission has been tasked with developing vaccination strategies that target risk areas, species and farming practices.

Ministers also called on member states to undertake their own trials and to share results.


There will also be work to explore the possibility of a pooled purchase or vaccine bank mechanism and joint efforts to improve the acceptability of vaccines in international trade.

The decision was made in late May following Europe, and the UK’s, worst ever season for avian influenza.


France has this week removed its remaining restrictions following a record 1,378 outbreaks leading to the culling of more than 16 million birds.

Pays de Loire, France’s second-largest poultry producing region, has been the worst hit, according to Reuters.

In the Netherlands, the government has recently confirmed that it will keep its housing order in place, despite neighbouring Belgium and Germany lifting their restrictions.

Risk level

But some restrictions are loosening – the requirement for duck farmers to submit carcasses for testing weekly, for example.

The expert working group that feeds into Dutch government decisions recently dropped the risk level from ‘High’ to ‘Moderate to High’ with a high degree of uncertainty.

In the UK, a flock of 30,000 turkeys was slaughtered on suspicion at the beginning of June close to Ludlow, Shropshire, with HPAI later confirmed. It demonstrates that the virus is still present in the environment.

The AIPZ, which makes biosecurity a legal requirement, remains in place across Great Britain.