The main reason cited for this was insufficient returns, which suggested business had not been profitable, the union said.
“British eggs and poultrymeat are staple parts of so many people’s diets, but the sector is under a huge amount of strain,” said James Mottershead, NFU poultry board chair. “Incredibly volatile production costs and the threat of avian influenza have put producers under extreme pressure.”
The research highlighted key concerns for both sectors including the risk of avian influenza, about which 94% of egg producers and 92% of chicken meat producers were fairly or very concerned.
“While the number of outbreaks has been minimal this winter compared to previous years, the devastating impact the disease has on farming families is keenly felt across the sector,” said Mottershead.
“It is important not to take our eyes of the ball and we wait in anticipation for the government to publish the recommendations from the AI Vaccination Taskforce so that informed decisions can be made to protect the national flock.”
Over 90% of egg producers were also concerned about a lack of fairness in the supply chain, high energy prices and being undercut by imports, while over 60% of chicken meat producers had the same concerns.
To support producers, the NFU has called for greater fairness in the poultry supply chains, for poultry producers to be included in the Energy Intensive Industries scheme and for a long-term strategy from government to be set ahead of any future bird flu outbreaks.
“The sector urgently needs support, certainty and fairness applied across the supply chain if it is to remain strong in its production of quality, safe, nutritious and sustainably produced poultrymeat and eggs, which we know the vast majority of the British public rely on,” said Mottershead.