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Defra has imposed a 10km control zone around a Suffolk-based breeding rearer farm owned by Banham Poultry after H5N8 avian flu was discovered on 13 February.

Some 23,000 broiler chickens were due to be culled this week. The outbreak was the ninth to be recorded in poultry flocks across Great Britain since the start of December.

“A single case of avian influenza was confirmed on a Suffolk farm on the evening of Sunday 12 February,” said Banham Poultry in a statement.

”The affected farm does not produce meat and is instead a breeding rearer farm. The infection was confirmed after we notified Defra following increasing mortality in one of our flocks. The specific strain of influenza has now been confirmed as Highly Pathogenic H5N8. The flock is currently being humanely culled by the authorities in accordance with EU legislation,” it added.

“Birds at our other farms appear healthy and there is no evidence of any spread of infection. All of our staff are trained in biosecurity management and we are ensuring that the controls that are in place are rigourously followed,” the statement said. “We will continue to fully cooperate with the authorities to ensure that the situation remains under control.”

The presence of avian flu has led to concerns housing orders on birds could threaten the status of free-range products.

However, Defra said last week it planned to implement an amended prevention zone in England from 28 Feb-ruary, which would allow some “free-range poultry to go outside where clear biosecurity arrangements were in place”.