Poland: approx 10 million birds culled due to Avian Influenza

On 28 april, the Polish veterinarian service reported the latest number of outbreaks of Avian Influenza (HPAI) in the country: now adding up to 272 outbreaks in 2021. It is a huge crisis in the Polish poultry sector, the largest producer of poultry meat in the EU and affects all species of poultry: broilers, laying hens, ducks, turkey and geese. So far, approximately 10 million birds have been culled.

kalkoen op de vrije uitloop
©Pixabay

Poultry exports in 2020 fell in value for the first time in 11 years, although the production of poultry still increased to almost 3 million tonnes. The drop in export was mainly due to the COVID19 pandemic, which (temporarily) closed borders but especially closed the Horeca channel, an important buyer of poultry meat. Approx. 75% of the export goes to the internal European Union market, therefore closure of HoReCa in other EU-countries affects the Polish poultry sector as well. But the main crisis is now the huge number of outbreaks of Avian Influenza (HPAI).

Beeld: ©http://www.portalhodowcy.pl / http://www.portalhodowcy.pl

The worst situation is in the provinces of Wielkopolska and Mazowiecki where two big clusters of outbreaks can be seen. On the map, which was updated on April 26, it can be seen that in total 9,6 mln birds have been culled, of which 6,6 mln hens, 1,1 mln turkeys, 0,9 mln ducks and 0,7 mln broilers. Since then, a few more outbreaks occurred, making the total number of birds culled approximately 10 mln. The problem concerns not only farms producing for slaughter, but also those specializing in the production of eggs, of which the export has been suspended to several countries such as Belarus. Wielkopolska is the leader in Poland in egg production.

the map can be viewed in high resolution here: Portal Hodowcy - hodowla drobiu bydła trzody chlewnej produkcja zwierzęca - portalhodowcy.pl

Minister: comply with biosecurity rules

The Minister of Agriculture, mr Grzegorz Puda, urges the sector to take all biosecurity and hygienic measures possible. Compliance with the obligations such as keeping birds inside, disinfection of livestock premises, reducing the amount of people entering the premises, frequent washing of hands, are according to the minister very effective methods to reduce the risk of HPAI. As part of an information campaign, an information leaflet on AI and ways of preventing the spread of the disease was prepared.

The Chief Veterinary Officer mentioned in an interview with the Polish Press Agency that the large number of outbreaks in two provinces is also caused by a high concentration of poultry farms in this area. It is reported that the CVO proposed legislative changes to the ministry to require greater distance between poultry farms.

Compensation for the poultry sector?

Poland slaughters over 1,3 bln chickens a year, producing almost 20% of the EU’s poultry meat. Its export is worth approx. PLN 13 bln (€ 2,8 bln) annually. Until now 65 outbreaks of HPAI was the largest annual number, while 272 outbreaks have been recorded this year. The current crisis is expected to increase the price of eggs and poultry meat, according to the Polish poultry sector. It therefore also urges the government to support exports to third countries by applying the same rules that apply in the EU, namely so called regionalization when only those areas that are in endangered zones are excluded from export and not the entire country.

The Minister of Agriculture mentioned that work was undertaken on the preparation of an application to the European Commission for exceptional support measures for the poultry sector in Poland. Currently, work is focused on the collection of data and estimation of production losses at the level of the farms. The application for exceptional support measures, according to the minister, can only be submitted when the epizootic situation is under control and Poland obtains rhe HPAI-free status. In 2020, Poland received that status in August, 5 months after the last HPAI outbreak of that year on March 31. According to the Polish poultry sector the losses are billions of zlotys and the government should expect to have to spend several hundred million zlotys on compensation.

However, the situation is expected to begin improving thanks to the end of the HPAI season. Also, the opening of the HoReCa channels are expected. In Poland, outdoor dining will be possible from May 15.

Sources: www.wetgiw.gov.pl, https://agronews.com.pl, portalhodowcy.pl, https://www.rmf24.pl