Midland vets were inundated with dead birds yesterday as fears grew of a bird flu epidemic in Britain.
Tests were carried out on a dead goose found in Shrop-shire following fears it could have the deadly H5N1 strain of avian flu but test results proved negative.
The bird, found by a member of the public in Shrews-bury, was one of nine in the UK to be tested for avian flu. All tests came back negative.
The NFU and State Veterinary Service said veterinary surgeries had been inundated with people reporting dead birds since a dead duck in France was found to be infected with avian flu over the weekend.
The Government last night warned there was a "higher risk" of bird flu coming to Britain and launched a helpline to cope with heightened concerns.
Meanwhile, free range chicken farmers said they were facing the grim reality that they may have to move their birds indoors to minimise the risk of them catching the virus.
Richard Kempsey, who farms 22,000 free range birds near Wolverhampton, is concerned he could lose his free range status if forced to move birds inside for a lengthy period of time.
Farmers also fear the heightened awareness will discourage consumers from eating poultry, causing prices to plummet.
Shropshire poultry farmer David Mills said: "Everybody is going berserk carrying dead birds to veterinary surgeries.
"There will be inevitable price falls with the public perception that they can catch bird flu by eating chicken.
"I am very concerned because it will have a detrimental effect on all farmers, who are already in a particularly bad way."
Rod Adlington, who rears turkeys for his Turkey Talk business in Balsall Common, Warwickshire, said his sales plummeted when news of bird flu first broke last October, although they had since picked up.
"It is hard to predict how people are going to react but we hope they will be sensible and realise they can't catch avian flu by eating the meat," he said.
A spokesman for the Worcester-based State Veterinary Service said: "We are very busy at the moment. The mortality rate is naturally very high in the wild bird population but because of the heightened awareness, people are reporting deaths to a greater degree.
"We are asking people to phone a Defra helpline to report any suspicious wild bird death, especially if they find a large number of carcasses in a relatively small area."
Environment Secretary Margaret Beckett met EU agriculture ministers in Brussels for talks yesterday but said there was no European "masterplan" for dealing with the outbreak of bird flu.
France and the Netherlands have both requested the right to begin partial vaccination programmes of poultry - a move which requires EU-level agreement.
But Mrs Beckett said the overwhelming view remained that vaccination was not a cure and could raise more difficulties.
* The bird flu hotline for people reporting dead birds is 08459 335577.