At exactly 2 pm, a man in bright yellow overalls steps into a shovel in the yard of organic poultry farmer Sijds Dijkstra. He drives the device to the back of the chicken houses and disappears from view for a moment. A few minutes later he is back. The body slowly tilts over a gray container.
“Oh, there they go,” says Dijkstra (64), who keeps an eye on the shovel from the edge of his yard in the outskirts of Zeewolde. Hundreds of lifeless chickens slide into the waste bin.
After the bird flu was diagnosed in Dijkstras’ chickens on Monday night, the Ministry of Agriculture announced a national obligation to keep poultry in the Netherlands: commercial poultry farmers in the Netherlands must keep their animals indoors and protect them. Six poultry farms within a radius of three kilometers from Dijkstra’s company are being tested for the virus.
Dead wild birds
There have been signs that the virus would resurface for some time. Dead wild birds were found in the Northern Netherlands. Infected birds have also been found in neighboring Germany.
In October last year, the virus was also found in dead swans in the Utrecht region. At that time, too, a confinement obligation was introduced, which was lifted in July of this year. But the fear that the virus would come back soon remained.
The outbreak was unexpected for Dijkstra and his daughter Annemijn (29), who takes care of the animals. The Dijkstra family has two organic poultry farms: on one site they keep 36,000 animals, on the other 24,000. They also have 40 hectares of land on which they grow pumpkins, potatoes and wheat.
To keep viruses and bacteria out, Dijkstra and his daughter do not visit fellow chicken farmers
Blood samples were still taken from the chickens in October, says Annemijn Dijkstra, who stopped working as a lawyer in May this year to fully focus on her family’s business. “Everything was fine.” In fact, the 36,000 chickens formed an excellent batch and laid more eggs than average. Over 33,000 a day. Organic quality: 3 stars.
To keep viruses and bacteria out, Dijkstra and his daughter do not visit fellow chicken farmers. After visiting the stable, they shower and change as standard. And customers who buy eggs are never received at the yard, says Sijds Dijkstra.
When an employee inspected the stables of the 36,000 chickens at 8 a.m. on Monday morning, nothing seemed to be wrong at first. In compartments one and two the chickens sat peacefully. But when the employee walked into the third part, he was shocked. Several dead chickens. And some of the live chickens seemed in shock, sitting there motionless.
A creeping fox? New. The chickens were not bitten.
March? Chickens that caught a cold through an open door and died? Impossible. Everything was sealed.
It wouldn’t happen again.. In 2013, Dijkstra’s chickens were felled by bird flu. From behind the kitchen table, he then saw a shovel tipping 24,000 dead chickens into a container, an image that never left him. Since then, he insures his chickens against bird flu.
What struck me now: the situation deteriorated rapidly during the day. And when Annemijn and Sijds Dijkstra went back into the barn later in the day, there were even more dead chickens. Annemijn Dijkstra: “It went so fast.”
Visits from various vets, and later that Monday, from the Dutch Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority provided the explanation. Tuesday morning at 5 o’clock an employee of the NVWA called and told Sijds Dijkstra what he was actually afraid of: his chickens had ‘Aviare Influenza’, the bird flu. “And then the whole circus begins.”
Also read: You can’t be too careful with viruses. So how do you predict a bird flu outbreak?
Tuesday at 8 o’clock in the morning, the NVWA team was on the doorstep. The doors of the stables were taped shut. A gas tank was driven in front. All surviving chickens were gassed and 130,000 eggs were discarded. An appraiser made a ‘limited’ estimate of the compensation Dijkstra receives for the chickens and part of the feed.
The chickens were also tested in the other poultry farm of the Dijkstra family, the results are not yet known. Annemijn Dijkstra: “I assume that the chickens there are not infected.”
The stables will remain closed for the next two weeks. Then everything has to be cleaned. After that, testing can be done with ‘test chickens’, first 25 pieces, to make sure that the virus is no longer present in the barn.
Sijds Dijkstra does not think about stopping. Unfortunately, bird flu is part of a poultry farmer’s entrepreneurial risk, he says – and is almost unavoidable. He points to his daughter, and elsewhere in the living room is his son: “I have enough successors who want to take over this company.”
Farmer Dijkstra has to gas his 60,000 chickens because of the bird flu. “Oh, there they go”
Source link Farmer Dijkstra has to gas his 60,000 chickens because of the bird flu. “Oh, there they go”