The impact of bird flu on poultry farmers and measures to combat the outbreak

By Rob Blair, Partner and ARA specialist 

Last year, the poultry industry, which contributes roughly £4.6 billion to the UK economy, came under siege due to a significant outbreak of bird flu.

The 2022 outbreak of the disease was the largest-ever in both the UK and the rest of the world, with 2.8 million poultry and captive birds being culled.

Despite concerns that the disease was still circulating, the Government announced in April 2023 that restrictions on allowing captive birds and poultry inside had been lifted.

Bird flu, or avian influenza, is a highly contagious viral disease affecting various species of food-producing birds such as chickens, turkeys, ducks, geese, and others. This disease can hugely impact the poultry industry, as it can decimate poultry flocks, disrupting supply chains and causing severe financial losses for farmers.

Although the threat of bird flu has dissipated, some farmers have decided to keep poultry indoors for fears that cases could rise again.

A few cases have recently appeared around the country, so the restrictions remain in place.

The RSPB have expressed fears that the coming winter could see another outbreak, so it is important for farmers to take preventative measures to ensure that any potential spread of the disease has a minimal impact on their business.

Biosecurity measures have been viewed as an effective prevention of bird flu. The measures include a range of best practices designed to prevent the introduction and spread of diseases.

These include the isolation of new or returning birds, limiting contact between wild and domestic birds, implementing strict sanitation measures, and frequent monitoring for disease symptoms.

All poultry gathering remains banned, this includes gatherings at shows, fairs and markets. This is due to fears that large numbers of flocks mixing together could significantly increase the risk of infections spreading across the country.

If you would like information on how we can assist your business with its finances when issues such as the bird flu outbreak arise, please contact us today.