The National Pig Association has warned that the recent discovery of H5N1 bird flu in Holton, Suffolk, could have major implications for the pig industry.
Many farms in East Anglia, eastern England, have mixed pig and poultry holdings. It is the region with the highest combined concentrations of both species in the country.
If bird flu is diagnosed in poultry flocks, all pigs on the same infected premises must be tested. Tests on pigs will be carried out three weeks after any infected poultry have been slaughtered. During this period pigs can only be moved from the premises under special licence.
Diagnosis of the virus should not trigger any pigmeat export bans, however, any delays in pig movements caused during the testing period could result in considerable financial losses.
Clarification will also be required from major retailers and processors that they would be prepared to accept pigs consigned from infected mixed pig and poultry units.