Tatarstan farmers are promptly urged to slaughter poultry under the threat of bird flu

Tatarstan farmers are promptly urged to slaughter poultry under the threat of bird flu
Photo: Maxim Platonov

“Private farms are the weakest link, there is zero protection”

Veterinarians have urged Tatarstan farmers to “urgently slaughter” mature poultry. The goal is to prevent the appearance and spread of a highly pathogenic flu bird in the republic.

“There was a dull in summer, thank God, but migratory wild birds in autumn are a direct threat of spreading the flu, especially in the last years. The highly pathogenic flu is especially dangerous,” warned vice head of the Main Veterinary Office of the Tatarstan Cabinet of Ministers Gabdulkhak Motygullin.

The functionary urged directors of poultry farms, especially small private farms, do not “self-diagnose,” if the poultry are dying or behaving strangely (refuse to eat), urgently go to regional veterinary services.

“While the owner is doing experiments with drugs, we can miss the precious time to localise the flu,” Motygullin noted.

Countrymen and farmers, especially large farms, must isolate their poultry from wild migratory birds, particularly wild ducks. In 2020, precisely the latter became the cause of the spread of the bird flu in Tatarstan. Veterinarians also urge farmers to protect their farms because in case of infection and an outbreak, all the poultry will have to be burnt

“In Tatarstan, we have a lot of poultry, about 18 million commercial poultry. Private farms are the weakest link, there is zero protection, therefore their poultry cannot have access to water.”

Countrymen and farmers, especially large farms, must isolate their poultry from wild migratory birds, particularly wild ducks. Photo: Yelena Sungatova / art16.ru

As veterinarians are controlling the situation in the republic, more than ten outbreaks of the bird flu have been registered in Astrakhan, Rostov, Chelyabinsk, Tyumen, Krasnodar Oblasts and in Dagestan and Tuva. Specialists emphasise that though the viral disease hits the vascular and central nervous system, there might be no bird flu symptoms, it is nearly impossible to diagnose this disease after the poultry dies.

“We cannot redirect the birds”

According to orders of the Russian Ministry of Agriculture, owners must keep the poultry enclosed without contact with wild birds. They also must provide access to their birds on specialists’ every request and inform agencies in case of mortality or strange behaviour. Poultry are prohibited from being brought from other regions without the authorities’ consent and corresponding documents. Those who sell the poultry, first of all, must regularly disinfect transport.

Vice head of the Tatarstan office of Russia’s agriculture watchdog Yevgeny Ivanov noted that the situation in Russia is relatively not bad, 18 flu outbreaks have been registered. To compare, in Europe, they total over 500, around the world, there have been more than 1,000 cases in 2021. But this also concerns specialists because Tatarstan farmers buy pedigree poultry mainly in Europe. Samples are taken to prevent the virus from entering the territory of Russia during customs clearance.

“The situation is calm now. But the threat persists. The bird flu started to spread in Tatarstan in 2020 precisely in Chelyabinsk, gradually it came here together with migratory birds,” Ivanov paid attention.

Tatarstan is in a risk zone due to its location at the confluence of two rivers, the Volga and Kama Rivers, said Rinat Chispiyakov, vice director of the Animal and Vegetal Life Protection Office of the Tatarstan Cabinet of Ministers and head of the Tatarstan State Committee for Biological Resources. According to him, the republic has very rich waters, this is why wild bird migration arteries cross our republic. All migratory birds stop by in Tatarstan in autumn, thus increasing the risk of bringing the bird flu.

“There were several cases of the flu that arrived in Tatarstan in spring because a part of birds remains in the republic for nesting: geese, swans... In autumn, the birds will transit our republic. And then their number will be bigger, hundreds of millions of birds. Unfortunately, we can do nothing, we cannot redirect the birds, so we have to invite hunters,” Chispiyakov claimed.

One fever outbreak is so far known in Tatarstan, which is in Novosheshminsk District. Photo: tatarstan.ru

“Now we have half a million swine in Tatarstan, however, there is no treatment for the fever”

African swine fever (ASF) is another dangerous seasonal disease that is directly linked with the Tatarstan Agro-Industrial Complex. Here there situation is by far worse, it is already spreading at a high speed across Russia: 68 outbreaks are in quarantine, including Tatarstan’s neighbours Mari El and Samara Oblast. One fever outbreak is so far known in Tatarstan, which is in Novosheshminsk District, at Krasnovidovo farm where the quarantine declared in summer will soon be lifted.

“African fever is dangerous, infection a hundred per cent leads to death. If a swine survives, it becomes a virus carrier. In Tatarstan, now we have half a million swine, moreover, there is no treatment for the fever. I recommend banning an outdoor swine enclosure for farmers and other animal owners. Rodents, gnats, the soil can transmit this infection,” Gabdulkhak Motygullin explains.

To solve the problem, veterinarians closely worked with swine resellers in Tatarstan so that the latter will obtain a sales permit in Mercury system. At the same time, wild boars, key infection transmitters, are killed. There used to be a lot of boars in the republic, more than 4,000. In 2021, 890, or 0,13 per 1,000 hectares, have left. To prevent the appearance of the fever in swine enterprises of Tatarstan, it is necessary to reduce the population of the wild boar, functionaries justify themselves: “Otherwise, we won’t save this production.” Sadly, the virus got to the wild fauna in Tatarstan. Yevgeny Ivanov noted that African fever was first registered precisely in Russia, back in 2007. Since then, the virus seized the whole world, first reaching Europe (Germany, Latvia and so on), in 2018, it got to China. Ultimately, African swine fever has made its way to Northern America in 2021.

All boars won’t be killed, as few as a thousand will remain

According to head of the Tatarstan State Committee for Biological Resources Rinat Chispiyakov, AFS first got to Tatarstan in 2020. As a result, supervisory agencies create 20-kilometre buffer zones on the perimeter of the republic’s border. In the case of the outbreak in the same Novosheshminsk District, in Krasnovidovo, a 100-kilometre territory was in quarantine (hunting is still banned there, 24 swine were destroyed). Then, the buffer zones expanded: 20-kilometre zones are created around large swine farms and 10-kilometre areas around others.

Nevertheless, veterinarians and ecologists believe that the boars as species won’t go extinct in Tatarstan. There is a norm: 1,000 head for the whole territory of the republic, no more (a risk of fever). “There must not be boars” around swine farms to rule out infection. Also, it was noted at the press conference that “it is physically impossible to wipe out boars.”

Specialists urged farmers not to hope for some compensation from the authorities after the slaughter of both their poultry and swine. Since due to the coronavirus epidemic the budget was adopted with a big deficit, the state may not have the money for such compensation.

Functionaries also said that 1,500 head of cattle, 2,500 swine and about 150,000 poultry are weekly brought to Tatarstan.

Sergey Afanasyev
Tatarstan