The risk of bird flu in France has been moved to “high” due to an increase in cases in neighbouring countries.
This is outlined in a decree posted in the government’s official legal publication Le Journal officiel today (November 5).
French farmers will now be obliged to shut their poultry stock inside to avoid contact with migrating birds which may be carrying the virus, or at least install a net above their yards in order to prevent anything else from getting in.
The Netherlands also imposed this measure last week.
Gatherings involving birds – including carrier pigeon competitions – that take place at least partly in France are also banned until March 31, 2022.
In zoos, birds that cannot be kept inside or underneath a net must be vaccinated.
Last winter, France recorded nearly 500 bird flu outbreaks in poultry farms, mostly in the southwest, which is known for its production of foie gras. This led to the culling of more than 3.5 million birds, mostly ducks.
“Since the beginning of August, 130 cases or outbreaks of bird blue have been detected among wild animals or in European farms, most notably along the North Sea and Baltic Sea coastlines, including three German farms,” the French Ministry of Agriculture said in a statement.
“The confinement of all professionally-reared poultry stock has been required in the Netherlands following the detection of one outbreak among a population of laying hens.
“In Italy, six outbreaks have been reported in turkey farms in the Verona region since October 19,” it added.
Cases have also been reported in France, but only in non-professional “backyard farms” in Ardennes and Aisne.
This allows France to conserve its “bird flu free” status, which allows it to continue exporting its poultry products.
The country’s risk level had already risen to “moderate” on September 10, requiring some farmers to keep their birds inside. This included those located along the Atlantic coast, which is more frequently visited by migratory birds.
Certain members of the industry opposed this measure, claiming that it went against the “point” of their job as free range farmers and “deceived” consumers who wished to buy free range products.