As they embark on their 2006 campaign, producers who grow the most expensive turkeys on the Christmas market are waiting to hear how much they can expect to receive in compensation in the event of an avian flu outbreak.

Last month, ADAS senior poultry adviser John Newton gave details on the calculations involved, at a joint meeting of the Traditional Farmfresh Turkey Association and the Anglian Turkey Association at Margaret Roding, Essex. Six seasonal production tables proposing levels of payment have been drawn up by ADAS’s poultry team and are now with DEFRA for approval.

The proposals vary according to the strain of bird and method of rearing, whether the flocks were as-hatched or hens, and reflect the high value of seasonal flocks. Among the cost items were feed, labour, electricity, farm vehicles, interest on capital, land rental and pasture management – but not processing or marketing.

Maria Ball, chief poultry adviser for the NFU, warned the meeting that swans from Siberia and other potential threats would be with the industry for some time. “The Cellardyke episode lasted 42 hours, but it could have been a lot longer if the industry had not been able to put out a consistent message,” she said.

Norfolk turkey producer Robert Garner, who produces 2000 Christmas birds a year at Godwick Hall, Tittleshall, has stepped up biosecurity after the recent Norfolk outbreak seven miles away.

“Luckily it was too early in the year to have turkeys on the farm. It was a traumatic time for everyone and a great relief once H7N3 was diagnosed, but things have never been the same since,” he admitted.

“I now have a 6ft x 4ft shed at the gate to which every visitor has to report and we have to keep records on where they have been, why they have come, and when they arrived and left,” said Mr Garner.

Golden Promise – Traditional Farm Fresh Turkeys

Avian Flu special report