Major event cancelled with bird flu concerns

FLU CONCERNS: Mount Gambier Poultry and Pigeon Club president Trevor Kuhl remains concerned about the avian influenza. (Charlotte Varcoe 418712)

Charlotte Varcoe

A MAJOR annual event for the Mount Gambier Poultry and Pigeon Club has had to be cancelled due to avian influenza outbreaks in other states.

The club was due to welcome hundreds of poultry hobbyists to town next month, yet due to growing concerns around the highly contagious avian influenza, the committee made the decision to cancel its 2024 Championship Show.

Since May this year there have been responses to eight outbreaks in Victoria, two in New South Wales and one in the Australian Capital Territory.

All infected premises across the three states have since been depopulated.

Federal, state and territory governments, along with affected poultry and egg industries, continue to work together to manage the outbreaks.

The Department of Primary Industries and Regions (PIRSA) has since restricted the movements of eggs and poultry into South Australia.

The movement of live poultry and fertile eggs into the state is prohibited from certain high-risk properties in states where there have been confirmed cases.

Movement from other properties from these states is permitted under certain conditions.

This does not apply to eggs to be sold for human consumption.

Live poultry and fertile eggs are not to be brought into South Australia from any property declared by the state of Victoria, New South Wale or the Australian Capital Territory as infected premises, dangerous contact premises, suspect premises or within a restricted or controlled area.

Other eggs and poultry are not permitted to be brought into the state if it has had contact in the preceding 28 days with any of the areas or premises through live poultry, poultry products or property which has come into contact with poultry or poultry products.

Mount Gambier Poultry and Pigeon Club president Trevor Kuhl said there were two main reasons why the committee made the tough decision to cancel its main annual event.

Mr Kuhl said it was not only the risk of the influenza but also with the border restrictions, the event was not viable for the committee.

“The closure of the border and prevention of poultry coming across the border with restrictions was one reason we cancelled the event,” M Kuhl said.

“The other is because 80 per cent of our entrants and members are from the other side of the border.”

He said the cancellation of the championship would have a similar effect on the club as the Covid-19 pandemic did and although the club would not lose out financially, the social interaction from the event would be a disadvantage.

“Usually the event is a lot of members getting together and seeing how their birds have developed over the year but we are hoping it will not affect the club too much,” Mr Kuhl said.

“We will keep going and have a meeting later next month and just progress from there while keeping everyone up to date with what is happening.”

He said last year, the championship show had 600 entrants and a number of exhibitors – making it their main event of the year.

“Members made the decision together for the benefit of the hobby and the birds to help reduce any contact from the club’s position because we cannot afford to run at a loss,” Mr Kuhl said.

“We are now looking forward to our next local show here which will be the Mount Gambier Show in October.

“There are a fair few that come from the other side of the border for that so we are hoping it will be all resolved well before then.”

He said in the meantime poultry hobbyists were still able to enter and prepare for the Royal Adelaide Show with poultry exhibitors from South Australia able to enter.

“We are concerned about the influenza going into the wild population but we have no control over that,” he said.

“We really just need to do our best to minimise the bird’s contact with the wild population on the domestic side, which means keeping them indoors or in small mesh.”

Any unexplained poultry mortality or production drop as well as other signs of illness consistent with avian influenza must be reported immediately to 1800 675 888.