THE NFU is lobbying government for financial support to help stamp out the spread of non-notifiable H6N1 avian influenza.

It has also asked both Red Tractor and RSPCA Assured to consider suspending on-farm audits temporarily as “a proportionate measure”.

See also: How Belgian farmers managed non-notifiable AI

As a non-notifiable disease, there is no legal requirement to cull birds. However, most affected farms have opted to do so at their own expense to help minimise the risk of spread.

Significant cost

The NFU says the cost of doing so can be significant, estimated at £53,000 for 32,000 free-range layers and £105,000 for 150,000 broilers at 2kg.

In England, a single case was confirmed, and the farm chose to cull birds on-farm and send the carcasses for rendering.

An NFU spokesperson said biosecurity remained crucial, as did keeping accurate and preferably electronic records of all movements of vehicles and equipment.

They also highlighted the risks associated with storing bedding outside.

‘Great anxiety’

“The risk of AI is causing great anxiety throughout the whole of the sector. We have seen a wide range of poultry species affected. Clearly, the recent extremely wet weather is exacerbating the worry given the part played by waterfowl in spreading the disease.”

Non-notifiable H6N1 has been confirmed on four farms in Northern Ireland, two in Scotland, one in England and one in Co Monaghan, in Ireland.