Pyrénées-Orientales: poultry in captivity due to avian flu, “a measure against animal welfare”, Catalan breeders plead

The Ministry of Agriculture placed the whole of France at high risk on Thursday, November 10 regarding avian influenza epizootic. All birds, in breeding or in private homes, must be caged. A case that has been formally identified in the Sigean reserve, neighboring municipalities are subject to stricter regulations. Not easy for Catalan professionals, who specialize in free-range breeding.

rebel Last spring, the hens and ducks were cooped up. Since then, the epidemiological situation has wreaked havoc in the west of the country this summer, with serious and lasting effects on the poultry industry. Then, these past few weeks, it just got worse. The result, it is a return to the prison box for chickens. And imprisonment, everyone knows what it is. “This can have many consequences for animals”, Cyrille Duval worries. On Thursday evening, the president of the Syndicate of poultry breeders and fatty palmipeds of Pyrénées-Orientales was still waiting for details of the measures to be applied. But now, he fears the consequences of a new imprisonment. “Animals can become more aggressive. For example, in egg-laying chickens, we can have stitches. It’s not easy for us, these measures are against animal welfare.” A quality that is definitely a trademark of our local producers, about sixty in total divided into small and medium-sized farms in the Catalan territory, far from the farms in the batteries. “Here, our chickens have access to outdoor runs, often planted with trees, and not all farmers have large buildings to house their animals, said Cyrille Duval. Some of our waterfowl breeders only have light shelters and depending on the case, applying these containment measures can be problematic to almost impossible.”

Mandatory declaration for all in 4 municipalities

The unionist added that “elsewhere, confinement did not stop the spread of the flu. He repented also that the external sector has too little weight in national negotiations. “With us, the breeding density is low and I remind you that we are in an autarkic system. The fattened duck producers, for example, when they receive the ducklings, they raise, butcher and process them on the farm.”

Still more complicated, the case of those in the municipality of Salses-le-Château (this is the case of Cyrille Duval’s 4000 laying hens), Saint-Hippolyte, Saint-Laurent de la Salanque and Le Barcarès, which was placed this Thursday in temporary control area. A bird found dead in the Sigean reserve last weekend proved, after examination, to be a victim of highly pathogenic avian influenza. Contamination probably occurred through wildlife. Within a radius of 20 km around Sigean, professionals must carry out tests before transporting their animals. “Those who do not kill the area have to bear the additional cost for each sale. It can be around 20 euros per head, not supported by the State, the halal professional is still criticized, not to mention the delays involved.

As a reminder, the epidemic of avian influenza poses no risk to the consumption of meat or eggs for humans. Avian flu has, until now, never affected any bird in the Pyrénées-Orientales, either in breeding or in wildlife.

Measures in the temporary control zone

  • the census of bird keepers.
    Individuals must declare their backyard or outdoor captive birds. This is either at their town hall or online at
    Professionals should approach the department of population protection.
  • Animals must be sheltered, either in closed buildings or under nets. Watering points should be protected from wildlife. Release from farms will take place after favorable screening and security measures will be applied during transportation.
  • Enhanced surveillance on farms with more than 250 palmipeds is set up with weekly screening.
  • Finally, hunting is restricted for game birds.

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