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AI is waging in Siberia

During the past several weeks, highly pathogenic avian influenza (AI) has hit 25 farms in Omsk Oblast, Russia, Russian veterinary watchdog Rosselhoznadzor said in a statement.

As of late August, a total of 14 new farms in the region reported bird flu outbreaks. On top of that, over 10,000 birds have been culled on a total of 336 backyard farms. The disease was found in chickens, geese, ducks, and pigeons. Neighbouring Kazakhstan, decided to temporarily stop the import of poultry from Omsk Oblast.

As of late August, 25 farms in Omsk Oblast, Russia have reported bird flu outbreaks and 336 backyard farms with chickens, geese, ducks, and pigeons have been affected as well. Photo: Ruud Ploeg
As of late August, 25 farms in Omsk Oblast, Russia have reported bird flu outbreaks and 336 backyard farms with chickens, geese, ducks, and pigeons have been affected as well. Photo: Ruud Ploeg

Major farm hit hard – 1.5 million birds lost

In early September, the virus has been found at an large industrial poultry farm – Irtyshskhhaya. The company lost its entire production – 1.5 million birds, the regional Agricultural Ministry said. The regional government announced that it has a detailed a recovery plan for the farm. With assistance, Irtyshskhhaya should be able to return to operation in May-June of 2021 and reach the full designed production performance by the summer of 2022.

Egg market
According to Nikolay Drofa, the Omsk Oblast Agricultural Minister, the entire poultry flock at the farm was insured. Before the outbreak, Irtyshskhhaya was responsible for 56% of all eggs on the Omsk Oblast market.

Bankruptcy
Russian newspaper Kommersant, citing local market analysts, suggested that Irtyshskhhaya could go bankrupt due to the outbreak. In 2016, the Russian agricultural holding Eurodon also had to cull 1.5 million birds due to an AI outbreak. It then suffered losses of Rub2.6 billion ($ 40 million). In 2017, Eurodon went bankrupt due to financial problems, to some extent linked to the AI outbreaks.

Avian influenza virus spreading

In early September, the first AI outbreaks have been confirmed in Chelyabinsk Oblast as well. 2 backyard farms where hit and in the Tyumen Oblast at 1 backyard farm was infected. Officials fear that more regions are in danger, including the neighbouring Samara Oblast, where AI has not been reported since 2018. It is reported that 99% of outbreaks were confirmed at the farms located near water bodies, which means that the AI has been brought to Siberia by waterfowl, according to Rosselhoznadzor.

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Russia bans transit of Ukrainian poultry

On August 4, Russia announced its ban of the transit of poultry from Ukraine, citing AI concerns. On September 4, the ban was officially imposed. New restrictions will concern the transit of cattle, pigs, poultry and animal production, Rosselhoznadzor said. This decision aims to decrease risks of the spread of African swine fever virus, high-path avian influenza, and bovine spongiform encephalopathy in Russia’s territory. Around 28,000 tonnes of livestock products of Ukraine-origin have transited through the Russian territory in the first half of 2020, Rosselhoznadzor said. Ukraine is primarily exporting broiler meat and eggs.