A prominent Lytham St. Anne’s business man has expressed his deep dismay and heart-felt disappointment as he has been notified today (1st November) by a local farmer that his promised, and much looked forward to, festive free-range turkey is now off the menu. The farmer is likewise distraught as some of his birds have caught the dreaded bird-flu and consequently the whole flock has had to be killed and then incinerated.
This sad news comes as the Government has ordered all poultry and captive birds in England to be kept indoors from Monday 7th November under new restrictions to fight avian flu. Farmers, however, say that this order is too late to control the country’s largest ever outbreak. Consequently, with flocks being culled and the housing order being implemented on remaining turkeys, farmers warned of a widespread shortage of free-range turkeys this Christmas.
‘We are now facing this year, the largest ever outbreak of bird flu and are seeing rapid escalation in the number of cases on commercial farms and in backyard birds across England,’ said Chief Veterinary Office, Christine Middlemiss.
To ease the shortage, the Government say that measures introduced last week now allow farmers to kill and freeze turkey, geese and ducks and sell them as fresh closer to Christmas. This change is supposed to help producers avoid the risks of losing their flocks in a cull or to the disease. However, Richard Griffiths, Chief Executive of the British Poultry Council, the trade body for the poultry meat industry, said the price of free-range turkeys was likely to soar. He said, ‘The free-range side of the sector has been heavily hit and, at the moment, we are seeing numbers of about 30-35% of free-range production either being directly affected by the disease or culled because of it.’