Ban on poultry sales at Melton market is extended until March

Poultry on show during the Spring rare breeds show, held at Melton Cattle Market EMN-171001-141831001

Poultry on show during the Spring rare breeds show, held at Melton Cattle Market EMN-171001-141831001

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Poultry farmers will be unable to sell their birds at Melton Cattle Market until the start of March at the earliest, following the latest outbreak of avian flu.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) instructed farmers to keep chicken, geese and ducks away from wild birds last month in a bid to stop the virus spreading.

It was hoped the curfew would be lifted this month after it was brought in when reports of the H5N8 strain of bird flu was detected in flocks in locations across Europe.

But a notice went up on Melton market’s website this week stating: “Due to the outbreak of avian bird flu, restrictions have been put in place which have stopped poultry sales until further notice.

“Once restrictions have been lifted we will let you know. Please accept our apologies during this difficult time.”

The market has been told to suspend poultry sales until February 28, when the situation will again be reviewed.

A spokesperson for the market’s fur and feather office, said: “Fingers crossed it will be lifted at the end of February but there is a chance it could be extended further.

“When we can’t hold poultry sales it tends to hit the trade a bit at the market in terms of reducing footfall but it is difficult to tell if it has yet.

“Most farmers are aware that we can’t hold any sales at the moment - they’ve been told that all birds are to be kept in doors until further notice.”