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Avian flu impact puts poultry rare breeds under threat
“The UK’s brilliant array of rare and native poultry is under serious threat” – Tom Davis.
Rare breeds charity adds every native poultry breed to ‘priority’ category.

The Rare Breeds Survival Trust (RBST) has moved all of the UK’s native poultry breeds into the ‘priority’ category of its annual watchlist.

The move has been made due to the significant impact on breeding programmes in recent years from the combination of avian influenza restrictions and the rising cost of animal husbandry.

The latest watchlist has also highlighted the plight of native pig breeds. Seven of the 11 native pig breeds remain in the ‘priority’ category and the majority of rare pig breeds are showing a sustained decline in sow numbers.

Tom Davis, an RBST trustee and farm manager said: “The UK’s brilliant array of rare and native poultry is under serious threat. Under the continued threat of avian influenza, there is a clear decline in active breeding programmes and when breed populations are so low, losing flocks can be devastating.”

Because of the challenges facing rare pig and poultry breeds, RBST has called on the government to do more to encourage people to keep them.

Christopher Price, RBST chief executive, said: “The government’s new Environmental Land Management (ELM) scheme encourages farmers and smallholders to choose native breeds for grazing, but it does nothing to help safeguard the future of our native pig and poultry breeds.

“Today’s watchlist shows the outlook for our rare pig and poultry breeds is a great concern, we want to see the ELM’s SP8 supplement broadened to include native pigs and poultry as well as grazing animals.”

However, the report has revealed some conservation success stories. Sheep breeds such as the Norfolk horn and the greyface Dartmoor are growing in numbers, with the latter moving out of the ‘at risk’ category.

The saddleback pig has also had a good year, despite the general decline in pig numbers. The number of pedigree registered progeny increased by 16 per cent and the number of breeders grew by 12 per cent.

Image © Shutterstock

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Reporting service for dead wild birds updated

News Story 1
 The Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) has updated its online reporting service for dead wild birds.

The new version allows those reporting a dead bird to drop a pin on a map when reporting the location. It also includes a wider range of wild bird species groups to select from when describing the bird.

The online service, which helps APHA to monitor the spread of diseases such as avian influenza, can be accessed here

Click here for more...
News Shorts
NI chief vet urges bluetongue vigilance

Northern Ireland's chief veterinary officer (CVO) has urged farmers to be vigilant for signs of bluetongue, after the Animal and Plant Health Agency warned there was a very high probability of further cases in Great Britain.

There have been 126 confirmed cases of bluetongue virus serotype 3 in England since November 2023, with no cases reported in Northern Ireland. The movement of live ruminants from Great Britain to Northern Ireland is currently suspended.

According to the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA), the virus is most likely to enter Northern Ireland through infected animals or germplasm (semen or ova) being imported.

Brian Dooher, Northern Ireland's CVO, said: "Surveillance for this disease within Northern Ireland has been increased to assist with detection at the earliest opportunity which will facilitate more effective control measures."

Farmers should report any suspicions of the disease to their private veterinary practitioner, the DAERA Helpline on 0300 200 7840 or their local DAERA Direct Veterinary Office.