A duck farmer who supplied meat to a local restaurant following a bird flu outbreak in his flock has been ordered to pay £28,000 in fines and costs.

Daniel Mathison, 49, a partner at poultry business Mathison (Farmers) Leven, East Yorkshire, admitted four offences relating to an outbreak of avian influenza on the premises, as well as an offence of operating a slaughterhouse without approval from the Food Standards Agency (FSA). He was fined £20,000 in total, including £4,000 for each of the offences.

Beverley magistrates heard how inspectors from the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) visited the Southfield Farm due to a potential outbreak of bird flu and found regulations designed to prevent the spread of disease were being breached. The end of a duck-rearing shed was fully open and no records of bird deaths had been kept.

East Riding Council said officers also found that Mathison continued to supply meat to a local restaurant while waiting for bird flu test results, breaching restrictions on moving anything on or off the farm. Slaughtering and meat production activities were also above the limit at which approval and on-site supervision by the Food Standards Agency was required.

Avian influenza was confirmed in the duck flock in April last year. A further breach of restrictions imposed during bird flu occurred last May, when old insulation was removed from the premises, magistrates heard. During sentencing, the magistrates said these actions could have had wide-reaching and serious consequences for other farmers and the local community.

Angela Dearing, director of housing, transportation and public protection at East Riding of Yorkshire Council, said: “It is highly likely this avian influenza outbreak would not have happened if compulsory housing measures to ensure separation from wild birds had been complied with. It is fortunate the outbreak did not spread further when the disease control restrictions were breached.

“In addition to the catastrophic consequences for this business, the measures required to control the outbreak and prevent it spreading further significantly impacted on other local livestock keepers and the community. The outbreak also resulted in substantial financial and resource costs for Defra, APHA, the council and other partner agencies involved."

She added: “It is therefore vitally important that all livestock keepers play their part and adhere to animal disease control regulations, which are in place to protect against potentially devastating effects on their own livestock and businesses, animal and public health, and the economy.”

Aled Edwards, the APHA’s head of field delivery for England, said the agency took potential breaches of animal health and welfare very seriously. Mr Edwards said: “I hope the sentence will act as a reminder to others of the importance of these legal requirements in minimising the risk of further spread of disease, and the consequences of not adhering to the rules.”

The Leven farm supplies meat under the brand name Yorkshire Ducks and Geese. In addition to the fines, Mathison was ordered to pay an additional £6,000 towards costs and a £2,000 victim surcharge.