• Kyodo

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A poultry farm in Kyoto Prefecture planned to ship all of its chickens to a processor Feb. 23, even though birds had been dying there in large numbers for three days, an official at the processing firm said Monday.

Hideki Arinobe, senior managing director of Arinobe, based in neighboring Hyogo Prefecture, said Monday that Hideaki Asada, president of Asada Nosan Co., which operates the Funai farm, asked the processor to purchase all 200,000 chickens at the farm.

About 133,000 chickens have died of bird flu at the Funai farm in the town of Tanba since chickens there started dying en masse Feb. 20. Asada Nosan is based in Himeji, Hyogo Prefecture.

Arinobe had been scheduled to purchase 25,000 chickens from the farm between Feb. 25 and 27. But Asada told Arinobe by telephone that he wanted to ship chickens after Feb. 28 to empty the farm of its birds, the processor told Kyodo News.

“I think he might have wanted to extend the shipment period after learning of the mass deaths,” Arinobe said.

Around 15,000 chickens were shipped from the farm Wednesday and Thursday before initial tests were carried out for bird flu that produced positive results.

The farm stopped shipping chickens Friday, when samples from the farm tested positive for bird flu following an inspection by Kyoto prefectural officials acting on an anonymous tip that many chickens were dying at the farm.

On Saturday, the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry confirmed that samples from the farm were infected with a highly contagious strain of avian flu.

Masako Kurimoto, chief of a section on animal health at the farm ministry, said the ministry will look into the case and consider legal action.

Under the law on prevention of livestock infectious diseases, farmers and veterinarians are required to promptly report a bird flu outbreak or suspected case.

The outbreak at the Kyoto farm is the third recent bird flu outbreak in Japan.

The first outbreak was reported at a chicken farm in Yamaguchi Prefecture on Jan. 12 and the second case was found in mid-February at a home raising bantam chickens in Oita Prefecture.

A test by the National Institute of Animal Health in Tsukuba, Ibaraki Prefecture, showed Saturday that the Kyoto chickens had the H5 strain of the virus. A deadly variant of H5, known as H5N1, was also found in Yamaguchi and Oita. In Vietnam, it has been blamed for the deaths of 15 people, and seven in Thailand.

There have been no reports of the virus infecting humans in Japan.

The government has declared an end to the Yamaguchi outbreak.

Redress plan mulled The Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry may introduce a permanent system of compensation for poultry farmers hit by bird flu outbreaks, a top ministry official said Monday.

“We have dealt with it on a case-by-case basis so far, but a permanent step is necessary for preventing the spread of the disease,” Mamoru Ishihara, vice minister of agriculture, forestry and fisheries, told a news conference.

“I want to discuss what kind of measures are necessary within the government.”

Ishihara criticized a poultry farm in Kyoto Prefecture for failing to report the mass death of chickens there and took a dim view of paying compensation to the farm.

“It’s very regrettable from the viewpoint of social responsibility,” he said. “Given public opinion, it’s questionable to pay compensation.”

About 133,000 chickens have died at Asada Nosan Co.’s Funai farm in Tanba, Kyoto Prefecture, since chickens there started dying en masse Feb. 20.

The farm stopped shipping chickens Feb. 27, when samples taken from the farm tested positive for bird flu following an inspection by Kyoto Prefectural Government officials acting on an anonymous tip.

The following day, the farm ministry confirmed that samples from the farm were infected with a highly contagious strain of avian flu.

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