Chickens confined in France this winter will be able to go outside under certain conditions

The French government announced on Friday that chickens, still deprived outdoors this winter to avoid a new disaster linked to bird flu, could go outside in certain cases, following an opinion from the National Health Security Agency (Handles).

Sheltering chickens remains the “most protective” measure against avian flu, ANSES concluded on Friday in a report long-awaited by breeders, but which suggests adaptations to strict containment in the name of animal welfare.

“In the absence of other solutions, the best way to avoid introducing the virus on a farm is to avoid contact with contaminated birds” by keeping the poultry confined, summarizes Gilles Salvat, deputy director general of the research department, AFP. CONSIDERED.

“Other animal welfare issues”

At the moment, France is experiencing a kind of “endemisation (of the virus) in the local fauna, and not only with migratory birds”, he explains, which justifies and extends the duration of shelter for border contact.

It must always be accompanied by strict compliance with biosecurity measures, he reminds, in order not to introduce this virus, which led to the slaughter of more than 21 million birds in France from August 2021 to the spring of 2022. But “if we continue with systematic shelter, it leads to other animal welfare problems”, in narrow, unsuitable and poorly ventilated farms, explains Salvat, where poultry are exposed to beatings, heat and exposed to excess mortality.

Ducks and turkeys get locked up

For this, ANSES, in an opinion dated December 5 and published on Friday, recommends some relief only for chickens and not for ducks and turkeys, “more sensitive” to the virus. Among them an exit right within a limited perimeter from 8 weeks after the birth of the chicks instead of 10, especially in the summer, when the conditions are met, for animals that live around 12 weeks. “On the basis of this statement and in consultation with the professional sectors”, the Ministry of Agriculture “decided to make several adjustments”, he announced on Friday.

It follows ANSES’s recommendation of the right to holiday from 8 weeks, and also offers a “reduced” circuit departure in winter, after a biosecurity audit and provided that the farm is not located in an area regulated or near a wetland, particularly vulnerable.

“These directions will be determined by decree in the coming days after consultation with the professional sectors”, according to the government. In addition, “an epidemiological study will be initiated to characterize the role of outdoor poultry farms in the dynamics of the circulation of avian influenza”.

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