Tuesday, 6 February 2007

Bird 'flu and turkey factories

The World Land Trust has its HQ in Halesworth, which is walking distance from the airfield at Upper Holton, where the Bernard Matthews turkey factory is situated. It does annoy me how the TV and press keep describing it as a Turkey FARM. That is an insult to farmers. The site is completely enclosed, which makes it quite outrageous how DEFRA and the media immediately started implicate wild birds. While they should not be ruled out, it seem quite incomprehensible as to why everyone jumps to the conclusion it must be wild birds. If the outbreak was in the DEFRA HQ or the Houses of Parliament there would probably me a greater liklihood of contact with wild birds, than there ever would be in the highly controlled environment of a turkey factory.

Perhaps we should be looking at the way poultry are kept. These intensive batteries, barns and so forth are hothouses for disease. And even so-called organic and 'free-range' eggs and chickens often come from 'farms' almost as intensive as batteries. Intensive animal husbandry has a lot to answer for, both in terms of animal welfare and also environmental damage. Hormones are pumped into the animals, together with a nauseous cocktail of antibiotics and other drugs, many of which end up in the environment. And, as WLT supporter Simon Barnes, of The Times, has pointed out they don't even taste good.


  1. The-Best-Bird-Flu-Blogs-Team6 February 2007 at 20:21

    John, we totally agree with you and have today added the "Bird 'flu and turkey factories" entry of your blog, to The-Best-Bird-Flu-Blogs section of our site.




  2. This is a great site for information on Bird'flu, and I found a lot of interest. However, many of the writers clearly don't understand what this so-called farm is like. It is nothing like a farm of children's books, the idea of muddy boots, sloshing through a farmyard is way out. These turkeys are kept under conditions that have ablsolutely no connection with a farm.

  3. Avian flu - the ecology of an epidemic has a number of points on this subject, incl the following: "It is worth remembering that the spread of avian influenza through wild birds is limited by the simple fact that sick birds do not fly far, and dead birds don’t fly at all. It is hardly surprising then that, to date, there is no scientific evidence that wildlife spreads the disease to domestic or commercially reared birds"

  4. An interesting point, Helena. But the article does not mention the incubation period for bird flu. A bird could fly a long way before it became sick. Or it could develop the "mild or asymptomatic flu as was the case in a handful of Japanese workers" and keep flying.

  5. Robert: Thanks for pointing that out - I must have been misinformed! (I thought the incubation period was very rapid). Perhaps this New Scientist article offers a more balanced view? UK bird flu outbreak - who dunnit?

  6. Many BIRD FLUcases of avian flu infection in humans have resulted from direct or close contact with infected poultry like domesticated chicken, ducks and so on