Staff at a Sheffield farm have voiced their concerns about the risk of rising infections following the recent lift on bird flu restrictions.
Heeley City Farm has put their ducks and turkeys back outside after mandatory housing restrictions requiring poultry and captive birds to be be kept enclosed were lifted on 18 April.
The restrictions were put into place to stop the spread of bird flu.
Rachel Gilbert, Weekend Youth Manager and Tutor at the farm said the birds look “very happy” to be back outside but, she is “not convinced that bird flu has gone, or will ever go.”
Birds and chickens had to be kept undercover and anyone going in to the bird area had to go through a footbath to make sure they were bio-secure, according to strict guidance set out by the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFR).
Ms Gilbert said the bird flu restrictions have reduced the farms capacity to breed, which has resulted in an overall loss of business.
She said: “Our chickens aren’t as healthy as they could be. We try to keep them as enriched as possible but it’s just not the same really.
“It’s sad for visitors when they’re (the birds) in the Avery as they can’t get that interaction which is so valuable.”
Heeley City Farm anticipates bird flu to become a yearly problem and hopes to re-develop their Avery so it is no longer a temporary measure.
The proposal comes as the farm faced many difficulties in keeping their birds and poultry undercover during the winter, feeling there was a significant drop in welfare standards.
Harsh weather conditions such as snow and heavy rain meant tarps and netting often collapsed.
The farm also had to find a way to “out-smart” pigeons, who can easily access the farm due to their city-centre location, and pose a significant risk of infection from aviation flu.
However, the charity is struggling with financing the re-development, meaning they may continue to struggle during future outbreaks.
Ms Gilbert explains the farm has a new board of directors, who are looking at new ways to raise money.
She said: “I know it’s a really hard time for people but we do have an online wish list which saves us having to expend. The more people can donate the better”.
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