No flap over bird flu

THE public is being urged to be vigilant following the outbreak of bird flu in Suffolk. The disease was confirmed at the weekend as the virulent H5N1 strain. The National Farmers Union, the RSPB and Defra have tried not to cause public alarm saying they

THE public is being urged to be vigilant following the outbreak of bird flu in Suffolk.

The disease was confirmed at the weekend as the virulent H5N1 strain. The National Farmers' Union, the RSPB and Defra have tried not to cause public alarm saying they hope to contain the disease by destroying 159,000 turkeys on a farm owned by Bernard Matthews where the outbreak was discovered.

But precautions have already been put in place by one major poultry farmer, and warnings and advice given out by the RSPB, Defra and the NFU to help organisations and people in Comet country.

John Franklin runs his poultry business on 70 acres at Trumpetons Farm, Thorncote Green, near Sandy where he currently has almost 5,000 chickens and turkeys.


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Vehicles entering the farm have to drive over disinfectant mats and visitors have to dip their shoes in buckets of disinfectant.

Drivers making deliveries or making collections at the farm are also asked whether they have been in any of the infected areas in Suffolk.

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"We have stepped up everything to another level from last Saturday," said Mr Franklin. "If we have to bring all our birds inside we will. We have got enough room to do that."

Both the RSPB, at their site in Sandy, and Defra say vigilance from the public is essential to give them any early warning bird flu might have arrived in Comet country.

Both organisations want immediate calls from the public if they come across large numbers of dead birds.

Standalone Farm, a major tourist attraction in Letchworth GC, is not due to re-open to the public until March 1. The farm has a large collection of poultry and wild ducks.

The farm is owned by the Letchworth Garden City Heritage Foundation, whose director general Stuart Kenny said: "Since last year's scare in Scotland, The National Register of Poultry Producers has been set up in conjunction with Defra.

"By joining the register, Letchworth Garden City Farms Ltd, a subsidiary of the heritage foundation, will quickly receive all relevant information and advice.

"At present, Defra is advising against undue panic. However, that does not mean we cannot be preparing for certain eventualities.

"My rural estates manager has advised that if any member of the public spots a dead migratory bird, meaning a goose, swan etc, on any of our land in the garden city, to ring Manor Farm immediately on 01462 683975 and not to touch the bird."

One area popular for wild fowl is the lake at Fairlands Valley Park, Stevenage, and DEFRA should be contacted if any dead wild birds are discovered in the park. The Defra helpline is 08459 335577.

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