Poultry register short by 40m birds

UK - At least 40 million birds will not be covered by a government registration scheme for poultry, a central plank of the country's defence against bird flu.

Farmers with more than 50 birds have been ordered to register, something the Government believes will be crucial if the virus reaches Britain.

But, with the deadline for registration only two days away and outbreaks emerging on the Continent, the Sunday Telegraph has learnt that an estimated 40 million fowls - 20 per cent of the poultry in Britain - will not be accounted for.

Some are owned by smallholders who are not required to register them, although they may do so voluntarily from Wednesday. Most, however, are thought be in flocks whose owners have failed to inform the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

Peter Bradnock, the chief executive of the British Poultry Council, said: "It is a worrying number of unregistered birds and is undermining the efforts being made."

Defra was yesterday unable to say how many birds were on its database, but said more than 15,000 flocks had been registered. Farmers who fail to register face three months in prison or a £5,000 fine.

Source: The Telegraph
calendar icon 27 February 2006
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