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November 02, 2005

Thailand's battle with bird flu

The government has imposed strict measures to try to curb the spread of bird flu, including restricting movements of fighting cocks and eliminating a traditional way of raising ducks by moving large flocks around.

Fighting cocks and ducks were more resilient to the virus than farmed chickens and could pass on the disease without showing symptoms, Yukol said.

The government had set a March, 2005 deadline for halting the large-scale movement of 3,700 flocks of ducks that owners moved around to new feeding grounds, but extended it to December after owners protested and might extend it again, officials said.

Yukol said rural livestock officials faced tough battles to restrict movements of fighting cocks, or even culling them, as many are owned by influential local figures.

"Who dares to touch them? My livestock officials don't," he told reporters after a bird flu seminar.

He estimated there were around one million fighting cocks in Thailand, 300,000 of them involved in fights regularly, but only 40,000 had been registered and issued with a "passport", which must be shown to officials when they were being moved.

Owners often hide their prize fighters as the government pays only 75 percent of the market rate for ordinary chickens culled no matter what their attributes and nothing if they did not report suspicious deaths. Yukol said that would not change.

"What criteria can we use to say this fighting cock is worth 100,000 baht? When it loses two bouts, it will have to go to the broth pot," Yukol said.

Thailand has confirmed bird flu in seven provinces. Read the full article here.

Posted by dymaxion at November 2, 2005 11:12 AM

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