BRITAIN could face a Christmas turkey crisis as 3.5 million birds are culled due to the ‘worst ever’ flu outbreak.
Fears of shortages were sparked after 155 turkey farms reported cases of bird flu in their birds.
The UK produces around 11 million turkeys a year, but a third of them have been culled this year.
Highly contagious, the virus has wiped out a huge amount in the run-up to the festivities, with fears Christmas 2023 will also be affected.
Expected to cause ‘sacred carnage’ James Mottershead, chairman of the National Farmers Union (NFU), said the reality of the situation was dire.
He told Sky News: “If bird flu, for example, got into turkeys, it could cause holy carnage; which could cause real problems with the supply chain in the run up to Christmas.
“The realities are quite harsh.
“If you have an outbreak on your farm and your farm is classed as an infected premises, it’s serious – you could be out of production for up to 12 months.”
Farmer Steve Childerhouse is forced to cull an entire flock of 100,000 turkeys – which were supposed to be on the dinner plates.
The 51-year-old farmer from Norfolk said “people are getting absolutely devastated by it” and the Christmas market will be affected.
“It’s going to have a massive impact on the Christmas market because they’re just not going to be there,” he added.
Steve said that once their farm is infested, it must remain vacant for 12 months.
He said: “The way things are with our farm, we won’t be able to produce poultry on our farm for next Christmas either.”
Agriculture Minister Mark Spencer said growers could apply for compensation.
He said: “Farmers and poultry producers are facing real pressure as a result of this bird flu outbreak and we know many are concerned about the impact on their flocks.
“We hope the practical solutions announced today will help provide greater financial security.”
With turkeys due to fill supermarket shelves in the coming weeks, families are concerned their traditional dinner will be missed this year.
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