Russian poultry company culls one million broilers over AI fears

By Vladislav Vorotnikov

- Last updated on GMT

Amur Broiler has had to cull one million birds due to presence of avian influenza
Amur Broiler has had to cull one million birds due to presence of avian influenza

Related tags: Russia, Livestock, Poultry

One of the largest poultry producers in the Far East part of Russia, Amur Broiler, has culled one million heads of broilers since mid-August, when laboratory inspection of samples taken from the corpses of dead poultry showed the possible presence of highly pathogenic avian influenza (AI). 

Amur Broiler manufactures 16,000 tonnes of broiler meat, delivering chilled poultry meat to the markets of Amur Oblast, Khabarovsk Krai and the Jewish Autonomous District, all in Russia’s far eastern region, which traditionally has the lowest levels of self-sufficiency in all types of meat and poultry, according to information from the company.

Due to the incident, Amur Broiler has said it will need to cease operations until 16 September, and this is likely to cause a shortage of chilled poultry meat in local markets.

No virus confirmed yet

Speaking at a 23 August press conference, the deputy governor of Amur Oblast, Vladislav Bakumenko, said repeat inspections have not revealed the presence of the most common AI strains, including H5, H7 and H9. In this regard, he said, the company was considered AI-free, so it should be able to restore full-scale operations soon.

Of particular importance, said Bakumenko, was the fact that, despite the incident, Amur Broiler had not lost the parent flock of broilers, which was kept separately. According to information from the company, it is the growing Hubbard F15 Breeder, which is imported into Russia.

Back in 2016, Oleg Turkov, CEO of Amur Broiler, complained that the company’s system of veterinary security was imperfect. The farm’s facilities were built in Soviet times, so all the poultry houses, hatcheries and processing line were located very close to each other, while to ensure proper safety, they should be located at a distance of three to five kilometres between them, he said.

AI threatens far eastern region

Several regional media outlets have reported that chilled poultry meat from Amur Broiler has already disappeared from retail, causing a temporary shortage of broiler meat in Russia’s far eastern region. Some reports have suggested consumers are refraining from purchasing poultry due to discussions about AI strains that are fatal to humans, which could penetrate the region.

In early April 2017, deputy head of Russian veterinary watchdog Rosselkhoznadzor, Nikolay Vlasov, warned that Russia’s far eastern region was under threat from the AI strain from south-east Asia, which are different from the types of virus identified earlier this year in Moscow, Rostov and Astrakhan Oblast, all in the European part of Russia.

The H5N8 strain, Vlasov said, did not pose a threat to the health of humans, while the strain from Asia, which is threatening Russia’s far east, is a completely different story, as it has already claimed several human lives.

Meanwhile, both the regional offices of Rosselkhoznadzor and the regional government have refused to disclose what strain has been identified at the farm of Amur Broiler and if it is dangerous to humans.

Related topics: Meat

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