News this week of the return of a strain of bird flu to the UK should not really come as a surprise, and neither should the timing of the announcement, just in time for Christmas when sales will no doubt be at their peak of this fairly shabby and sick industry.
Turkeys, chickens and ducks are kept in squalid cramped conditions in such farms; evidence of the industry has been exposed on many occasions with undercover footage of such.
Predictably however with the H5n8 strain identified, so we get the scapegoat wild bird being blamed for what will be a profitable compensation scheme for those involved in this feathered stock loss. Have any wild birds been found dead and identified as having the strain of flu?
Whatever the source of the outbreak, and not withstanding the fairly shocking apathy of one farmer whose chickens were wandering down the lane not far from the outbreak source, one question should be asked in relation to Sandwell Council’s clandestine cull of Canada geese- whereby they were taken into a farm environment from their wild one to be slaughtered by having their necks broken in “goose dispatchers.
Why would a responsible council, or even farmer introduce birds, whose condition could not be identified by being rounded up summarily, without any veterinary assessment, and whereby they admit that no council staff were present at the farms, contemplate taking them into a farm setting? Biosecurity appears to have been left to a group of what can only be described as dodgy characters in the back of a trailer box- who are certainly not averse to telling people lies and spitting on grass themselves.
The news that this same farm are selling farm reared turkeys at this same site, where wild ones were taken for slaughter should raise eyebrows, because I do not see possible how this council can guarantee that biosecurity of this farm was not compromised by the feathers, excrement (of which this council are so unfond of), and straw that appears to have been in the back of the trailer that the birds were contained in.
The pictures sent to me by Senior Countryside Ranger Matt Darby last year of geese at Forge Mill lake show a squalid condition of the gate on the pest exterminators trailer, covered in excrement and feathers. This trailer and its wheels we are then supposed to believe went into the farm to kill the geese.
One has to wonder what conditions turkeys for sale are kept in at Forge Mill farm, but what building were the geese killed in, and where were they incinerated, in relation to where the turkeys were raised and were free to roam?
Moreover, perhaps when considering buying meat from this wild bird cull zone, people should consider that we have to rely on the honesty of the seller that they are buying what they say they are selling.
Having asked the Food Standards Agency, who oversee such regulation and in the wake of the horse meat scandal, some fairly frank questions about wild birds and domestic reared ones, they appear to be unable to confirm that wild birds, and specifically wildfowl are not on the menu already posing as chicken or turkey. They do not routinely test for this according to this reply. This should be concerning when wild birds are free to fly from poisonous lakes , or ingest toxicants such as lead in the environment and where some individuals are known to have taken them presumably to eat- or maybe to sell on to someone else!
Perhaps the best way to determine that you are not eating wild birds, whose history is not known, and relying on an industry who do not appear to ask many questions about how they are keeping their feathery money piles, is to not part with your money and don’t eat birds at all.