Switzerland bans outdoor poultry farming

02-10-2006 | | |

The Swiss economics ministry has announced that outdoor poultry farming will be banned in certain areas, to protect local poultry against bird flu carried by migratory birds heading to Africa.

From October 15, poultry living within one kilometre of major lakes and rivers will be kept indoors. The ban will apply to free-range poultry as well as poultry markets and exhibitions.
Unlike the previous outdoor ban, which was imposed across the country from 20 February to 1 May this year, the latest lockup only applies around lakes and rivers in low-lying parts of the country.
The preventive measures affect about 1,000 of the country’s 17,000 professional farms and 4,000 of the 50,000 amateur chicken raisers – less than 10 per cent of the overall total, according to the economics ministry.
The measures will remain in place until 30 April 2007, and could be strengthened before then if this is deemed necessary by the ministry.
Thirty-two wild birds infected with the H5N1 avian influenza virus were found dead last February and March in Switzerland, mainly around lakes. This led to a national order to bring poultry indoors that was lifted in May. No human cases were reported.
Monitoring of wild birds around lakes, as well as analysis of any dead birds found, continues, the ministry said.
Initial reaction to the new ban was generally understanding. The Swiss Farmers’ Association (SFA) said targeted measures were the right thing to do and Kagfreiland, a farm animal protection organisation, deemed it a pragmatic solution.
Switzerland’s summertime water fowl population of 50,000 swells to 500,000 during the winter migration to African wintering grounds.