‘Don’t lift national restrictions’, urges owner of Havensfield Happy Eggs in Suffolk
- Credit: Archant
A free range egg producer whose business lies close to the Redgrave bird flu exclusion zone says government officials should not go ahead with a partial lifting of national restrictions planned for next month.
Alaistaire Brice, of Havensfield Happy Eggs, based at Hoxne, near Eye, has to keep his birds indoors under the current national restrictions. These were put in place in December to stop the spread of bird flu.
But at the end of this month, the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has already issued plans to lift them, other than in certain ‘higher risk’ areas including a large swathe of East Anglian coastline, and an area around the north of Suffolk and south of Norfolk, which includes various farms within Alaistaire’s business.
After February 28, free range birds kept indoors are set to lose their free range status as they will pass the maximum allowed period for keeping them inside.
Farms in higher risk areas would be able to cover the outdoor bird areas with netting and thereby keep their status, but Alaistaire believes this would be impractical.
“There’s absolutely no way DEFRA can go ahead with the plan it put in place,” he said. “I’m feeling stressed because DEFRA need to look at this, and in the light of this new outbreak they need to go back to the drawing board.”
He believes that letting birds out will simply increase the risk of the disease spreading.
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“We have got to keep everything in until these migratory birds go back,” he said.
The disease outbreak in Suffolk - where there are high concentrations of poultry units - may be the catalyst for a rethink, he hopes. “This is really going to make them see sense,” he said.
Alastaire’s operation is close to the edge of the 10km zone set up around the Redgrave site, and he is worried, he admits.
“It just ratchets up another notch to be honest,” he said.
NFU East Anglia adviser John Newton, said the area around the Suffolk outbreak was a major one for poultry farms, with around 70 hit by new restrictions because they lie within the 10km temporary control zone now in place.“We are a very big region for poultry,” he said. The region produces around a quarter of England’s table chicken and farmgate sales net around £670m.