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UK down more than a million British turkeys this Christmas

graphic of chicken meat

WELL-documented problems with labour and transport have put a brake on the poultrymeat sector during the summer, after showing a strong start to the year.

Latest Defra figures support the predictions of tighter availability on UK-reared turkeys this season.

See also: In review: last winter’s avian influenza outbreak

Poult numbers dropped by 32,000 a week during September compared with a year earlier, to an average of 391,000.

There was a drop in poult numbers in two of the four critical months for putting down fresh turkeys for Christmas this year, with the total for June-September showing an overall decline.

Cumulative poult placings over the four months were down by 2.2% on summer last year.

Perhaps more significantly, given that Christmas celebrations and family get-togethers were sharply curtailed last year, there has been a much more substantial cut back overall than pre-pandemic levels two years ago.

Total poult numbers placed between June-September, at 6.45 million, were down by 1.25m on 2019, a fall of 16.6%.

Broiler chick placings fall again

The UK broiler sector was still lagging in September, for the third successive month.

Chick placings during September were down by an average of 600,000/ week, compared with the same months in both 2020 and 2019.

Following two months of lower placings in July and August, it amounts to a total shortfall of 12.5m day-olds against last year in the third quarter, a drop of 4.2%.