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SFH visits local poultry farms (with photos)

     The Secretary for Food and Health, Dr York Chow, visited two poultry farms in Yuen Long this afternoon (May 27) to see for himself the implementation of biosecurity measures on the farms and understand the business situation of poultry farmers.

     Accompanied by the Permanent Secretary for Food and Health (Food), Mrs Marion Lai, and the Acting Director of Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation, Dr Leung Siu-fai, Dr Chow first visited a poultry farm that makes use of enclosed farm sheds. The farm has installed an evaporative cooling system in poultry rearing.

     Dr Chow then visited a traditional poultry farm, and noted that the farm has upgraded its biosecurity measures, including the addition of disinfection facilities and the installation of sturdy and non-malleable bird nets, to prevent wild birds from entering the farm sheds.  

     Dr Chow also enquired about the recent business situation of the two poultry farmers.

     Most local poultry farms rear poultry in traditional open or semi-open type sheds with complementary biosecurity facilities. Individual farms have applied advanced technology, such as the use of enclosed farm sheds with an evaporative cooling system in poultry rearing. Both rearing modes can effectively reduce the risk of avian influenza infection in poultry.

     Concluding the visit, Dr Chow said that he was generally content with the implementation of biosecurity and hygiene measures on local poultry farms.

     "The risk of avian influenza in Hong Kong has been lowered to its present level as a result of the implementation of various preventive and control measures at the poultry farm, wholesale, retail and import levels over the past years. I am pleased that both traditional and more modernised poultry farms are willing to upgrade the biosecurity and hygiene measures that contribute to the effective prevention of avian influenza," he said.

     Dr Chow called on local poultry farmers to continue implementing various biosecurity and hygiene measures to effectively prevent avian influenza. Regarding the need to develop a poultry slaughtering centre, Dr Chow said that the Government is conducting an overall risk assessment of avian influenza and a commercial viability study and will announce the decision soon.

     Following the discovery of chickens infected with H5N1 avian influenza at a farm in Yuen Long in December 2008, the Food and Health Bureau set up two investigation groups to conduct an epidemiological study and a vaccine study respectively. The groups were responsible for identifying the source of viral infection and the efficacy of the vaccine, with a view to implementing more effective measures on the prevention of avian influenza.

     At the recommendation of the Government, all local poultry farms have completed upgrading their biosecurity measures by end April this year, minimising the chance of occurrence of avian influenza.

     The investigation group on the chicken vaccine study is also conducting research and tests on the efficacy of the existing vaccine and carrying out comparative studies of alternative vaccines. The information and data gathered will facilitate the Government in the choice of the most suitable vaccine.

Ends/Thursday, May 27, 2010
Issued at HKT 18:50


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