After avian flu, the slow return of ducklings to Périgord farms

There are still only a handful of them, but their chirps are loud enough to be noticed. After three months of crawl space imposed by the measures taken in the context of the fight against avian flu which affected the Dordogne in the spring, the ducklings are back on the domain of Loqueyssie, the breeding farm created from scratch by Valérie Dumaure and her husband in the village of Grange-d’Ans, northeast of Périgueux. “We received a first batch of 280 Muscovy ducks on July 6, a few days after the restrictions in force in our area were lifted, then a second of equivalent size on July 26”details Valérie Dumaure, relieved “to see life slowly resume on his farm”.

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Certainly, it is not with 560 ducklings that the couple of breeders will be able to reconstitute their stocks, non-existent or almost. But at least he will have the satisfaction of being able to fulfill his customers’ orders at Christmas. “This in itself is a great opportunity, recognize Dumaure, conscious of belonging to a privileged minority. Raising Muscovy ducks may have helped us find them faster than if we had needed to stock up on the more common and in-demand mules.. All the breeding farms that usually have ducklings at this time are struggling to find ducklings. »

Breeding stock decimated

In the Dordogne, between April and June, forty-five outbreaks of avian influenza were detected, and nearly 400,000 poultry, mainly waterfowl, were euthanized because they were sick, or as a preventive measure. Since then, the Dordogne “is one of the three departments, along with Lot and Lot-et-Garonne, where getting one-day-old ducklings is almost impossible”is alarmed Patrice Marcelly, the director of Terres du Sud, one of the largest waterfowl production cooperatives in the South West.

“The animals that breeders lack today will miss feeders tomorrow” Olivier Palencher, feeder

Unlike Landes, which has a hatchery, Périgord pays no more and no less than its dependence on hatcheries in Vendée or Deux-Sèvres. The avian epizootic that raged in these two departments during the winter of 2021 decimated the herds of breeding animals. Conclusion: few or no eggs in the hatcheries, forced to deliver the rare specimens available in dribs and drabs.

In Coulounieix-Chamiers, near Périgueux, the hatchery of the La Peyrouse farm, adjoining the agricultural school, is still waiting for a delivery of eggs which does not come. “The activity has been stopped for several weeks”explains Eric Botiveau, the manager of the estate, from which usually come out, per year, between 500,000 and 600,000 day-old ducklings.

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The poultry sector is sinking into a desert of which it will probably not see the end before the spring of 2023. “The animals that are lacking today by breeders will be lacking by feeders tomorrow”warns Olivier Palencher, a force-feeder in Vergt, south of Périgueux and president of the Association of Périgord Duck Producers, created in April 2022 to help professionals affected by the virus and its consequences. ” The bestassumes the person concerned, force-feeding can resume in the fall. » Too late to guarantee foie gras in a reasonable quantity at Christmas. “We will have 70% less volume for the holidays”concludes Mr. Marcelly with concern.

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