Defra has issued guidance for farmers who keep pigs and poultry on the same premises. In a worst case scenario, this could mean that if avian flu was found, pigs would have to be culled.
It has confirmed that if a premises has High Pathogenicity Avian Influenza (HPAI) confirmed in poultry, even if just one bird is affected, the premises will be under restriction and confirmed as an HPAI-infected premises. Birds will be culled and removed for disposal by APHA, followed by preliminary cleaning and disinfection (C&D).
C&D must then be carried out in areas where birds were kept and bedding disposed of. These potentially high cost procedures will be at the owner’s expense.
Depending on where the birds were kept and ranged, C&D could involve fields or buildings where pigs are kept. If birds were allowed access to these, C&D of those areas would be mandatory.
This guidance does not mean that APHA would automatically cull the pigs, although that is a legally permitted option in a worst case scenario.
National Pig Association chief executive Zoe Davies emphasised that pig farmers must be aware of the risk and act to reduce it, including removing any hens around a pig unit.
She said: “Defra advice confirms pigs can become infected with HPAI. It is a concern that pigs on a shared site will have to be tested and could be culled if proven to be positive.”
In 2010, it was discovered that the H5N1 avian flu virus had been present in pigs in Indonesia since 2005.