Chickens, confined this winter in France, will be able to go out under certain conditions

The French government announced on Friday that chickens, still deprived of the outdoors this winter to avoid a new disaster linked to avian flu, could go outside in certain cases, following an opinion from the National Health Security Agency ( Handles).

Sheltering chickens remains the “most protective” measure against avian influenza, ANSES ruled on Friday in a report long awaited by breeders, but which proposes adaptations to strict confinement at animal welfare name.

“In the absence of other solutions, the best way to avoid the introduction of the virus into a farm is to avoid contact with contaminated birds” by keeping the poultry locked up, summarizes with AFP Gilles Salvat, Deputy Director General of the Research Division of ANSES.

“Other animal welfare issues”

Currently, France is experiencing a form of “endemization (of the virus) in the local fauna, and not only with migratory birds”, he explains, which justifies and lengthens the duration of sheltering for limit contact.

It must always be accompanied by strict compliance with biosecurity measures, he recalls, so as not to introduce this virus which led to the slaughter of more than 21 million birds in France from August 2021 to spring 2022. However, “if we continue to systematically shelter, this leads to other animal welfare problems”, in narrow, unsuitable and poorly ventilated farms, explains Salvat, where poultry are prone to beatings. heat and exposed to excess mortality.

Ducks and turkeys stay locked up

For this, ANSES recommends in an opinion dated December 5 and published Friday some relief for chickens only and not for ducks and turkeys, “more sensitive” to the virus. Among them, an exit right within a limited perimeter from 8 weeks after the birth of the chickens instead of 10, especially in summer, when the conditions are met, for animals that live around 12 weeks. “Based on this opinion and in consultation with the professional sectors”, the Ministry of Agriculture decided “to make several adaptations”, he announced on Friday.

It follows ANSES’s recommendation on the right to leave from 8 weeks, and also offers a “reduced” circuit exit during the winter, after a biosecurity audit and provided that the farm is not located in an area regulated or near a wetland, particularly at risk.

“These orientations will be specified by decree in the days to come, after consultation with the professional sectors”, according to the government. In addition, “an epidemiological survey will be launched to characterize the role of outdoor poultry farms in the dynamics of the circulation of avian influenza”.

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