Another Farm Pride Foods egg farm tests positive to Avian Influenza

Another Farm Pride Foods egg farm tests positive to Avian Influenza

Photo: Ben Moreland, via Unsplash.

A high pathogenicity strain of avian influenza (HPAI) has been detected on a second Victorian chicken farm operated by egg producer Farm Pride Foods (ASX: FRM) in Lethbridge west of Melbourne, where it is expected that 40,000 hens will be culled.

The announcement follows news earlier this week that the H7N3 strain of avian influenza was detected at Farm Pride's Lethbridge Aviary site, comprising around 80,000 free range hens.

Combined, the two sites' bird populations account for around 12 per cent of the company's production capacity.

"The company will seek compensation from the Emergency Animal Disease Compensation Scheme arising from the disposal of these birds," Farm Pride stated in an ASX announcement this morning.

"All of the company’s operations outside the Lethbridge area continue to operate as normal."

The detections came about as part of active collaborations with the Victorian Department of Agriculture to conduct thorough hen health assessments in response to an outbreak that began at a poultry farm near Meredith, close to Lethbridge, on 22 May.

Since then there have been other detections mostly within the Golden Plains Shire that Meredith is part of, as well as a separate HPAI strain on a poultry farm near Terang in the Shire of Corangamite.

Shortly after the first detection, a response plan was endorsed by a National Management Group (NMG) comprising the Australian Chicken Meat Federation, Australian Duck Meat Association and Australian Eggs Limited, with Agriculture Victoria working with property owners and industry to address the issue.

The Australian Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry reports this H7 virus is not a risk to the public as it rarely affects humans unless there is direct and close contact with sick birds. There are no food safety issues identified either.

"This is not the High Pathogenicity Avian Influenza H5N1 strain that has gained worldwide attention – nor is it closely related to that strain," the department states.

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