Covid-19: Fordingbridge farm chickens risk cull over egg demand

Image caption,
Ben Jackson said the closure of the farm's bulk-buyers like hotels and schools has left thousands of eggs unsold

A fall in bulk egg orders due to the lockdown could lead to chickens being culled, a poultry-farmer has warned.

Fluffetts Farm near Fordingbridge had been supplying free range eggs to 350 Hampshire schools, but orders stopped when schools suddenly closed.

Farm owner, Ben Jackson said: "If you can't sell the eggs you can't still keep feeding the chickens and therefore something has to give."

He said he hoped to work out a local delivery system to avoid culling birds.

Mr Jackson, who has been selling some of the surplus eggs off on social media, has more than 13,000 chickens laying 12,000 eggs each day.

The cancellation of his school orders has left him with about 4,000 spare eggs a day. The farm has also been hit by restaurants and pubs closing again.

Image caption,
The farm has a surplus of about 4,000 eggs each day from its 13,000 chickens

He said: "If we can't find a home for the eggs the worst-case scenario is that we may have to look to get rid of some of our chickens, but that's what we're trying to avoid.

"Other chicken farmers are in the same situation - they are talking about potentially having to cull birds in the next week or so - it's not a decision that anyone wants to make.

"We just want to get through this dark time - we're just taking it a day at time."

Chickens at the farm are currently in a bird lockdown.

Since 14 December strict biosecurity regulations have been in place following a number of outbreak of avian influenza throughout England.

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