Outdoor poultry ban comes into effect

Hen at a poultry farm (photo is illustrative).
Hen at a poultry farm (photo is illustrative). Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

The Agriculture and Food Board (Põllumajandus- ja Toiduamet) has imposed a nationwide ban on poultry farms keeping their stock outdoors, starting Monday. The move follows an outbreak of avian flu at a poultry farm in Lääne-Viru County.

The ruling means poultry can only be kept outside if the board grants an exemption, which it may do if the livestock's health is jeopardized if they are kept inside; extra precautions to avoid any contact with wild birds must be installed in that case.

Hele-Mai Sammel, the Agriculture and Food Board's deputy director general, told BNS that: "Since avian flu has been spreading across Europe and also reached Estonia, we hope to contain the spread of the virus further with the help of this measure.

An outbreak of bird flu was discovered last month at a Lääne-Viru County poultry farm, involving the particularly deadly (for birds) H5N8 strain.

The ruling also requires ducks and geese to be kept separate from other poultry such as chickens and turkeys, unless the board deems doing so low risk, while bringing wild birds into areas where poultry are kept indoors is similarly barred.

The board says it will conduct spot checks, and issue precepts where necessary.

Avian flu symptoms including swelling, a loss of appetite, drowsiness and a drop in egg production. While the virus is not a danger to humans, the stock at the Telo Talu farm was reportedly destroyed.

Outbreaks have been found in Estonia in the past, for instance in 2017.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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