Family farm bounces back after 'devastating' bird flu outbreak

Poppy Fison and the chickens at Elmsett Game Farm

A family farm has welcomed 2,500 chickens back to its premises after it was closed for six months due to a bird flu outbreak. - Credit: Elmsett Game Farm

A family farm has welcomed 2,500 chickens back to its premises after it was closed for six months due to a bird flu outbreak.

Will and Mandy Fison run Elmsett Game Farm, a small family-run business in Great Cornard producing and packaging free-range chicken and goose eggs.

Poppy Fison holding six eggs.

Poppy Fison, 9, helps out with collecting and grading the eggs at her family's farm. - Credit: Elmsett Game Farm

The chickens on Elmsett Game Farm had a confirmed diagnosis of avian influenza on December 8, 2021, and, as per regulations set out by the Department for Environment, Food and Agriculture, were humanely culled shortly after.

Previously, the farm had 8,000 free-range chickens in a three-tier multi-age system to ensure continuity of the size of eggs.

The farm was also home to geese and Poppy's two pet finches, Jeffrey and Matilda, a breeding pair and, despite looking perfectly healthy, sadly also had to be culled.

Chickens

The family farm previously had 8,000 chickens. - Credit: Elmsett Game Farm

Mandy Fison said: "It was devastating for the business but also to our family."

As the Fison family also live on the farm, they were not allowed any visitors to their home for months to avoid contamination.

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This meant Will and Mandy's daughter Poppy had to celebrate her ninth birthday in January without her friends. 

Mandy added: "People don't think about the human side of things in these situations.

"It came as a huge shock to our family."

Their residential restrictions were lifted on Thursday, March 3 and they were given the final sign-off on their farm restrictions at the beginning of June - six months after it initially closed down. 

After their premises was deemed safe again, the Fison family welcomed 2,500 chickens back to Elmsett Game Farm. 

Poppy Fison feeding the chickens at her farm

The Fison family welcomed 2,500 chickens to their farm after restrictions were lifted six weeks ago. - Credit: Elmsett Game Farm

The chickens stayed inside for a month under surveillance but are now free to roam at their leisure.

Mandy Fison said: "It's lovely to be able to collect and grade the eggs again after six months without being able to do so."

They hope to welcome a second flock in September and a third in January.

Elmsett Game Farm will now continue to sell its free-range eggs to local shops, butchers and markets.