Dutch poultry industry requests softer rules on bird housing

31-08-2006 | |

A Dutch poultry federation has asked the Dutch parliament to soften the rules requiring poultry farmers to keep birds indoors to help prevent the AI risk posed by migrating birds.

The rules are due to come into force tomorrow (1 September) and will affect poultry species including chickens, ducks, geese, waterfowl, specialty birds and others. Farmers can choose between keeping birds indoors or building a construction that prevents contact with wild birds.

Inspectors from the Ministry of Agriculture will monitor the situation and issue warnings and fines for non-compliance.

The federation has asked that the rules be made more flexible, as they create difficulties for farmers and for the birds themselves. The federation said that no other European country was imposing such strict rules, and it believes that the risk of contamination from wild birds is not unduly high.

A majority of the parliament responded dismissively to the request. “We cannot be careful enough,” said Harm-Evert Waalkens, a member of the Dutch Labour Party. Henk Jan Ormel of the Christian Democratic Party said that the rules are not for nothing, and that bird flu is also dangerous for people.

The federation says that the current rules are much more strict that those imposed during a previous bird flu scare in the Netherlands in 2003.

The federation is De Nederlandse Bond van Hoender-, Dwerghoender-, Sier- en Watervogelhouders (NHDB website in Dutch).

There have been no wild birds infected with bird flu found in the Netherlands.