Government acts on bird flu, divides country into four regions

VOGELGRIEP KAMPERVEENThe national ban on moving poultry, eggs and manure because of the outbreak of avian flu ended on Sunday when the government announced it is dividing the country up into four poultry farming regions.

The aim of this approach is to prevent contact between the two areas where avian flu has been identified so far, junior economic affairs minister Sharon Dijksma said on Sunday.

In addition, vehicles may only access one farm at a time, after which they will have to be disinfected.

The transport of poultry manure remains banned. All free range chickens and other birds must be confined to cages, hunting has been banned and all bird and poultry shows have been cancelled, Dijksma said.

So far four cases of bird flu have been identified in the Netherlands, the first a week ago. A duck farm in Barneveld, in the heart of the Dutch poultry industry, was give the all-clear on Saturday.

Poultry and egg production is a major industry in the Netherlands. Every year over half a billion chickens are slaughtered and at any one time the country is home to 100 million chickens. Most poultry farms are located in Gelderland, Overijssel and Limburg.

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