TAIWAN - More than half a million poultry have already been culled in Taiwan following the detection of one of the three high-path avian influenza virus subtypes circulating in the country. The government is offering full compensation to affected farmers and is considering whether poultry meat imports are required to meet demand at Chinese New Year.
Vice Premier Chang San-cheng said earlier this week that if the avian influenza outbreaks gets worse, the government will begin importing frozen chickens and also work with the Ministry of Finance to lower tariffs as necessary.
As for hikes in pork prices amid public fears in the wake of the avian flu outbreak and the massive culling of chickens, ducks and geese, Focus Taiwan reported Mr Chang said the government will have state-owned Taiwan Sugar Corp. increase its supply of pork to the market.
Council of Agriculture chief, Chen Bao-ji, said the supply of chickens was roughly the same as last year, and people did not need to worry about a shortage ahead of the Chinese New Year, which falls on 19 February.
Mr Chang confirmed that the government will offer full compensation to farm owners who take the initiative to report avian flu infection and have their fowl culled because Taiwan is dealing with two highly pathogenic flu strains – including H5N8 and H5N3 – that had never been seen in Taiwan before.
Taiwan has also discovered a new variant of the H5N2 subtype that is different from the H5N2 strain previously isolated in Taiwan.
Mr Chang added that governments are generally only required to compensate the farms for 60 per cent of their losses after the scale of the damage is assessed.
The funding for the standard 60 per cent compensation is usually split evenly between the central and local government but because the central government has decided to raise the ratio, the final split will be decided after an assessment by each local government, the vice premier said.
Another report in Focus Taiwan says two more chicken farms in Pingtung county in southern Taiwan have been confirmed with avian flu. All 220,000 chickens there were scheduled to be culled on 20 January.
One was an egg farm, while the other produced meat chickens and both are run by Dawushan Livestock Products Co., the same operator that reported the first case of H5N2 in Pingtung this year on 9 January.
The egg farm has been hit by an H5 subtype, while the chicken farm is infected with a highly pathogenic H5N8 virus, according to the Council.
As of the evening of 18 January, 239 poultry farms around Taiwan had been confirmed to have avian flu, including 51 farms that were infected with H5N8, 15 with a new variant of H5N3 and 99 with a new variant of H5N2.
More than 520,000 chickens, geese and ducks have been culled in the wake of the outbreak, and officials estimate that one million chickens will end up being culled by the time the disease is eradicated in Taiwan.
Earlier, Focus Taiwan had reported the detection of an avian flu virus of the H5 subtype in a migratory bird, a Naumann's thrush in Pingtung county, along with the infection in three Chinese bulbuls.
You can visit the Avian Flu page by clicking here.
ThePoultrySite News Desk
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