Chicken flu may trigger Christmas turkey scarcity, warns Lancs farmer

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An East Lancashire turkey farmer has warned of free vary turkey shortages and potential worth hikes, because the UK faces its largest avian influenza outbreak in UK historical past.

Paul White owns a farm in Laneshaw Bridge, close to Colne, and says he’s apprehensive in regards to the chook flu outbreak which is impacting farmers throughout the UK.

The previous Pendle councillor, who performs classical music to his birds to assist their welfare, mentioned: “The chook flu outbreak is worrying and we’re positively feeling edgy about it.

“The slightest sneeze or sickness and we’re panicking.”

Paul says an outbreak on the farm could be “devastating” for them, particularly as they’re a comparatively new farm and that is solely their second yr rearing turkeys.

He mentioned: “It might be completely devastating for us if chook flu have been to hit.

“We’re basically simply beginning out and have solely simply constructed up a loyal buyer base.

“It jogs my memory plenty of the 2001 foot-and-mouth illness outbreak the place the farming business was worn out.”

Pauls and the staff have already carried out biosecurity measures to make sure their turkeys can survive 4 extra weeks earlier than they’re slaughtered for Christmas.

He mentioned: “It’s a race in opposition to time for us.

“These turkeys are set to go to slaughter in 4 weeks. We’re doing every part we will to remain clear and avian flu free for the subsequent few weeks.

“The federal government have modified the foundations and we may slaughter and freeze them now to avoid wasting the chance.

“However we use a sluggish rising breed of turkeys in order that they take double the period of time to succeed in maturity in comparison with grocery store turkeys and they’re not fairly prepared but.

“We’re additionally keen about offering recent turkeys for Christmas. Persons are paying premium for a premium product and I feel they may anticipate it to be recent.”

From Monday November 7, birdkeepers in England might be legally required to accommodate their poultry indoors in a bid to sort out the unfold of chook flu.

These strolling round Paul’s the farm should disinfect their sneakers and extra sheds are being constructed to present the turkeys extra room to roam round indoors.

The 35-year-old mentioned: “Now we have spent round £2,000 placing up further sheds for the turkeys as a result of we’re actually keen about their welfare.

“We are attempting to offer as a lot area for them exterior as they might have had exterior.

“They already take heed to classical music and are feasting on pumpkins in the intervening time.”

Paul has warned of a possible turkey scarcity, notably recent ones, this Christmas.

He mentioned: “Throughout the business, I feel there might be a scarcity of free vary turkeys this yr.

“Many individuals are beginning to purchase their turkeys now. In the event that they wait till nearer to Christmas there won’t be any.”

The chook flu outbreak and battle in Ukraine additionally imply that your turkey could possibly be dearer.

Paul mentioned: “The turkeys’ seed is at the least a 3rd dearer now as a result of battle in Ukraine as many of the world’s grain comes from this nation.

“Shortages and worth hikes may change into an issue because the years go on, even after the chook flu outbreak has ended.

“There are only a few poultry farmers getting into the market and lots of older farmers would possibly resolve to retire as the present dangers and rising prices aren’t value it.

“Persons are going to should breed extra turkeys or we’re going to have a lowered nationwide flock.

“This can solely worsen because the years go on as some farmers won’t need the stress.”

Setting minister Mark Spencer mentioned ministers are assured the UK’s “sturdy” provide chains and further biosecurity measures launched in latest weeks imply the variety of turkeys on grocery store cabinets this winter is not going to dwindle on account of avian influenza.

There have been dozens of chook flu outbreaks throughout Lancashire since October 2021. The latest was confirmed on Monday (November 1) in South Ribble.

All poultry and captive birds on the premises might be humanely culled.

Avian influenza (chook flu) primarily impacts birds. It may possibly additionally have an effect on people and different mammals.

Don’t contact or choose up any lifeless or visibly sick birds that you just discover.

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