France Begins a Vaccination Program for 64 Million Ducks

To defend its flocks and its foie gras from the ravages of chicken flu, France has begun a mass vaccination of 64 million geese.

The marketing campaign, which began this week, goals to stop the unfold of a lethal variant of avian influenza that has compelled French farmers to cull greater than 30 million birds prior to now three years, contributing to a downturn within the manufacturing of foie gras.

“A real glimmer of hope,” Éric Dumas, a duck farmer and the president of France’s foie gras federation, stated in a assertion after the agriculture minister, Marc Fesneau, visited his farm close to Bordeaux to inaugurate the marketing campaign.

But the chicken vaccination program, which Mr. Fesneau described as the primary within the European Union, has led to a fast response from the United States, which stated it will prohibit imports of geese and different poultry from Europe. “France’s decision to vaccinate presents a risk” of introducing the illness into the United States, the U.S. Agriculture Department said.

In current years the illness, often known as Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza, or HPAI, has unfold by poultry farms throughout the globe, inflicting the deaths of nearly 60 million farmed birds within the United States alone.

In France, farmers had already tried to counter the unfold of the flu by including well being checks, lowering the density of birds on the farms and culling. In 2022, these efforts led to a 35 % drop within the variety of geese accessible to supply foie gras in contrast with the 12 months earlier than, in response to the foie gras committee.

Marie Pierre Pé, the foie gras federation’s director, stated in a cellphone name that the vaccine program was elementary for the farmers in her group. “We’ve paid a heavy price for the avian flu,” she stated. “We are going to protect the animals.”

Foie gras is the time period for the liver of a duck or goose that has been fattened by compelled feeding. For many the dish is a hallmark of French gastronomy; others say that the way in which it’s produced constitutes torture and animal cruelty.

The French authorities’s vaccination program can be obligatory for farms which have greater than 250 geese, which taken collectively account for 64 million birds. That determine exceeds the quantity of people that acquired the coronavirus vaccine in France — and, like most of the Covid vaccines, this one may even require two doses.

The first vaccination shot can be administered to 10-day-old chicks, adopted by a second one eight days later. The marketing campaign, which is able to lengthen into subsequent 12 months, can be “a real technical and financial challenge,” the foie gras federation stated in a assertion.

Jocelyn Marguerie, an avian professional from France’s nationwide community of veterinarians working with cattle, stated his group had helped plan this system with the federal government. He stated geese had been picked as a result of they catch the virus simply, and unfold it quick.

The authorities will cowl 85 % of this system’s value, at about 80 million euros (about $84 million). That is a fraction of the greater than a €1 billion the federal government paid in 2021 and 2022 to compensate farmers who had been required to cull their birds, according to a recent French parliamentary report.


Public well being authorities, involved that chicken flu might mutate into a model that may be transmitted to people, have accelerated efforts to restrict the outbreaks.

The Agriculture Department’s motion was introduced Sept. 29. The restriction covers imports of poultry, stay geese, duck eggs and untreated duck merchandise from Europe. The announcement stated the restriction stemmed from France’s determination to vaccinate geese, as a result of vaccinated poultry might not present indicators of chicken flu, thus masking whether or not the virus is circulating.

The French Ministry of Agriculture stated in a assertion that talks between the 2 nations had begun “to provide all the elements of reassurance which will allow the American restrictions to be quickly lifted.”

Ms. Pé stated the ban wouldn’t harm French foie gras producers, as a result of they don’t have a license to export to the United States.

Mr. Marguerie, the avian vet, stated that veterinarians would additionally nonetheless be deployed to make sure that no contamination happens regardless of the vaccinations, taking random swabs of the geese.

“If we find they are positive,” he stated. “They will be eliminated.”

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