Outbreaks over the past few years have driven people away from breeding
Poultry sales have been struggling at UK auction marts with buyers, sellers and auctioneers cautious over the recent reports of avian flu in wild birds in England.
Last year, shows and sales were cancelled and Wright Marshall director and vice chairman Gwyn Williams was concerned people had dropped out of breeding due to multiple outbreaks in recent years.
“Poultry sales are probably struggling. We took a big hit last year. The latest outbreak is making customers a bit nervous,” he said.
Avian flu has been found in wild birds in Dorset, Warwickshire, Hertfordshire, Rutland and West Yorkshire and there is now a prevention zone in place across England and Wales.
While there have so far not been any restrictions on gatherings, auction marts were concerned about what would happen if more cases were found.
“Last year, we missed out on a whole year of trading,” Mr Williams said. “It is a bit of a struggle. A lot have dropped out of breeding.”
He added biosecurity was important.
“We have always been fairly keen on using foot baths. We publish all the stuff Defra publishes and post it up around the market.”
Selby market auctioneer Richard Haigh said he was hoping there would not be a repeat of extensive restrictions this year, but he understood why they were in place last year.
“We are led by Defra as to what we should and should not do,” he added.
“Last year, there were movement restrictions, so we do keep an eye on that. We keep a register of where all the containers come from. All we can do is keep those traceability standards up.”
Mr Williams added it was important to remember working with any livestock was ‘a risk’.
“But if you want to do it, set yourself up properly, buy the best quality stock and protect yourself as much as you can.”