Bird flu: Half of Xmas turkeys culled

By Amelie Maurice-Jones

- Last updated on GMT

Bird flu: 60k free range turkeys culled in the Christmas runup (Getty/ E4C)
Bird flu: 60k free range turkeys culled in the Christmas runup (Getty/ E4C)

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Half of the free range turkeys produced for Christmas in the UK have been culled or have died due to avian flu, an industry official told MPs.

British Poultry Council chief executive Richard Griffiths said 600,000 out of around 1.3m free range birds had been lost. 

Lynx Purchasing managing director Rachel Dobson previously told The Morning Advertiser​ poultry prices could see sharp increases in the runup to Christmas due to avian flu. 

“Poultry producers are dealing with the impact of avian flu, the labour shortage, increased transport costs and in particular, very high costs for feed, as a result of the continuing tragic events in Ukraine,” she said. 

She advised operators to assess the demand for festive menus as early as possible, and to place orders in good time. “While there’s no escaping price increases, keep talking to suppliers and keep menu descriptions flexible wherever possible,” she added. 

Immense Pressure

National Farmers Union (NFU) board chair James Mottershead​ said soaring production costs were putting the British poultry sector under “immense pressure.” 

He cited the price of animal feed having soared by 70% over the past two years and the cost of rearing a chicken over the past 12 months having increased by 50%. 

Struggling industry

Mottershead added: “Producers are doing everything they can to continue to produce quality, affordable eggs and poultry meat, which are staple products in so many people’s diets but this escalating situation is causing many to consider their future in the industry. 

“Every element of the supply chain is facing significant challenges and we are in discussion with the Government and retailers about how farm businesses can remain viable and resilient to ensure poultry producers continue producing British poultry meat and eggs.” 

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