"A crawl space is almost certain," said the president of the Chamber of Agriculture of the Landes Marie-Hélène Cazaubon, after a meeting Wednesday evening in the prefecture with the authorities, the unions and the interprofessions.

Duck and poultry farmers in the South West are preparing for a massive slaughter in the heart of foie gras country, in an attempt to stem the rapid spread of avian flu, unions and agricultural officials said on Wednesday evening.

According to the Confédération paysanne and the Modef, the slaughter could concern up to "2.5 million animals", "in addition to the farms already emptied [more than a million poultry]".

Estimates which have not, at this stage, been confirmed by the Ministry of Agriculture.

In the Landes, the number of homes has increased from 94 to 144 in five days

As of January 17, France had 216 outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza, known as avian flu, in livestock, 22 cases in wildlife and 5 cases in poultry yards, according to figures published by the Ministry of Agriculture. .

Two-thirds of these households are concentrated in the south of the Landes, a territory dense with farms, which has around 1,300 chicken and 850 duck farmers.

In five days, the number of homes affected in the department rose from 94 to 144, according to ministry figures.

By mid-January, 421,000 poultry and 246,000 ducks had already been slaughtered in the Landes.

To deal with the crisis, four slaughterhouses have been requisitioned, in addition to a temporary slaughter platform, the prefecture said on Wednesday evening.

The situation is “dramatic”

“The emergency is to empty the areas up to 3 km around the outbreaks” because “we have the feeling that the virus is out of control”, explained Marie-Hélène Cazaubon, also a duck breeder, who s expects "a Minister's decision" on Thursday.

The situation is “dramatic”, for Mélanie Martin, president of the Modef des Landes (minority union), who expects “2.5 million poultry and ducks slaughtered only in the South-West”.

If such a figure were confirmed, the current crisis could be as catastrophic as that of last year: the epizootic had led to the slaughter of 3.5 million poultry, mainly ducks in the Southwest.

In 2021, the overall loss for the fatty palmipeds sector was assessed by Cifog (foie gras interprofession) at 150 million euros - and around 500 million euros for the entire poultry sector according to certain unions.


Avian flu: “No other solution in the long term” than the vaccine, according to the Minister of Agriculture


Avian flu is spreading in several regions of the world

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