Another case of avian influenza (bird flu) has arisen in a turkey flock in Butlersbridge, Co. Cavan.

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has confirmed to Agriland that further testing is being carried out to determine pathogenicity. Pending these results, depopulation of the flock will take place.

If it is confirmed that this is a highly pathogenic strain, it will be the fourth such case in the Republic of Ireland (and fifth on the island) in commercial flocks in the last three weeks.

This is the first case in the republic to occur outside Co. Monaghan, while the Northern Irish case arose in Co. Tyrone.

Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) poultry chairperson Andrew Boylan said that poultry farmers in the region are “really concerned” about the continued incidence rate of bird flu in the region.

According to Boylan, poultry growers are caught in a “classic cost-price squeeze that has to be addressed urgently”.

He highlighted that farmers producing chicken and eggs have seen an “unprecedented” increase in production costs in the past year.

According to the IFA, farm costs such as labour, electricity, water, insurance and maintenance are up over 60% on this time last year, while (citing European Commission data) the price of chicken has remained stagnant since 2017.

Poultry-specific costs, such as detergents, disinfectants, washing material and bedding are up 20% on this time last year.

“Gas prices have soared. The cost per unit has increased by almost 40% over the past 18 months on my farm,” Boylan said.

He added: “The cost of energy, labour and animal feed have all seen inflation not witnessed by the sector in half a generation. Irish inflation shot up to a 14-year high in October, which has had a damaging effect on the sector.”

The vice-chairperson of the committee, Brendan Soden, said that farmers are “very concerned” about their future. He cited a recent survey of egg-producing IFA members, in which 80% of respondents apparently said they would not recommend egg producing for future generations.

Citing the European Commission again, the IFA said that the EU average price for eggs has increased by 13.2%. However, Ireland is one of only two member states where the price has decreased – by 8.4% in the past 12 months – while feed costs are up 36% on last year, a state of affairs the association said is “unsustainable”.

Boylan said: “Without an immediate increase in the wholesale retail price – to be passed back to egg and chicken producers, the entire sector is in jeopardy. We produce Bord Bia quality-assured [QA] produce… We intend to highlight the absolute necessity for our costs to be recovered from the food chain immediately.”

The IFA said it has written to retailers requesting that producers’ costs be recovered and passed back to farmers to secure the survival of the sector, adding that, in the current climate, farmers are “considering their options”.