Banham Group prepares for cull after bird flu reaches Suffolk

An official at the site of the bird flu outbreak in Redgrave. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

An official at the site of the bird flu outbreak in Redgrave. Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

The poultry firm at the centre of a bird flu outbreak in Suffolk said there was no evidence of any spread of infection as it prepared to cull the infected flock.

Officials in protective suits at the Redgrave premises. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Officials in protective suits at the Redgrave premises. Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

A 10km control zone is in place around the Banham Group breeding rearer farm near Redgrave, where a number of birds had already died, after laboratory tests confirmed highly pathogenic H5N8 influenza in the flock.

A 10km control zone has been put up around the Banham Group breeding rearer farm near Redgrave, where a number of birds had already died, after laboratory tests confirmed highly pathogenic H5N8 influenza in the flock.

The UK’s deputy chief veterinary officer has announced a 3km protection zone and a 10km surveillance zone around the site.

Public Health England says the risk to public health from the virus is very low and the Food Standards Agency is clear that bird flu does not pose a food safety risk for UK consumers.

The scene of the bird flu outbreak at Redgrave. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

The scene of the bird flu outbreak at Redgrave. Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

The firm, which employs one manager on site, was waiting to hear whether it is a low pathogenic case or a high pathogenic case but no movements are allowed on or off the site, it said. As the affected farm is for breeding rearing, it did not anticipate any issues with its broiler meat production, it said.

“The manager is currently helping DEFRA with their investigations,” it said.

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A spokesperson said a single case of Avian Influenza, or bird flu, was confirmed on Sunday evening on a farm rented by the company.

“The affected farm does not produce meat and is instead a breeding rearer farm.

The warning sign at Redgrave. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

The warning sign at Redgrave. Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

“The infection was confirmed after we notified the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) following increasing mortality in one of our flocks. They will now be humanely culled by the authorities in accordance with EU legislation. The specific strain of influenza has yet to be identified and further tests will need to be carried out by the authorities before this can be confirmed.

“Birds at our other farms appear healthy and there is no evidence of any spread of infection. All of our staff are trained in biosecurity management and we are ensuring that the controls that are in place are rigourously followed. We will continue to cooperate with the authorities to ensure that the situation remains under control.”

The £130m turnover Banham Group is an independent family business employing 1,000 people, and is based in Attleborough in Norfolk. It supplies chicken to major supermarkets, and other established stores and wholesalers throughout the UK.

Specialist equipment is due to be delivered this evening to slaughter around 23,000 birds using “containerised gassing units”, a process which is expected to begin tomorrow.