Bird Flu: Campaign Group Calls For Urgent Overhaul Industrial Poultry Farming

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News in brief: Campaigners claim intensive poultry farms are driving the rise in Bird flu cases, urging a drastic overhaul of the industrial poultry sector to prevent further infections. The group proposes reducing overcrowding, implementing mass poultry vaccination, and restructuring the industry to curb disease spread.

Compassion in World Farming (CIWF), in a recent report, revealed that intensive poultry farms are behind the increasing Bird flu cases.

The campaign group observes that the industrial poultry farming sector needs to be radically restructured to stop further infection. One part of the report even suggests that wild birds are victims and not the main vectors of the disease.

The group said overcrowding was a main issue in industrial poultry, giving viruses a ‘perfect’ place to mutate and spread.

Thus, the report suggested that chickens should be kept in much smaller flocks and given more space.

It proposed a three-point action plan that involves a mass poultry vaccination to stop the spread, restructuring the industry to raise healthier birds in better environment, and a change in the way pigs are farmed as they could act as mixing vessels to create new pig, bird and human viruses.

The group has reportedly made their suggestions known to the United Kingdom (UK), United States (US) and various European governments. They have urged them to work with the World Organization for Animal Health (WOAH) and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), to put the recommended measures in place.

CIWF’s chief policy adviser, Peter Stevenson, said that bird flu was like a ticking timebomb. He stressed the need for urgent action to end factory farming because without adequate measures, it would be difficult to stop the rapid spread of the disease across the globe.

A news report says that over five hundred million birds have either died or been culled globally due to bird flu since 2021. These birds, mostly broilers and egg-laying hens, were confined closely together in huge sheds or cages. They were confined in an area roughly the size of an A4 paper sheet.

Campaigners have argued that cramming animals together in factory farms is totally inhumane, that is beside giving bird flu and other viruses room to spread and mutate into more dangerous strains.

While higher welfare farming and effective vaccines can help reduce disease risk, they believe that the industry is currently a long way off from pulling this off. Thus, they are suggesting long-term strategies like more robust breeds and excellent biosecurity, alongside them.

However, the chief executive of the British Poultry Council, Richard Griffiths, expressed a contrary view to the report. He maintained that migratory birds bring the avian influenza into the UK and that population helps spread the disease among domestic birds.

Griffiths stressed that indoor production methods do not aid in the spread of the disease. He added that the UK’s primary concerns are ensuring birds health, sustainable world-class food system, and nutritious and affordable food.

Joseph Akahome
Joseph Akahome
Joseph O Akahome (OJ) is a writer, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Literature from the University of Benin. He is an avid agriculturist, with a bias for poultry and an insatiable appetite for chicken wings. When he is neither reading nor researching, he likes to spend recreational time playing board games, or swimming in serene forested lakes.


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