HUNDREDS of extra Christmas turkeys are being brought up by butchers after a DEFRA minister warned Bird Flu could cause shortages this winter.

Speaking in the House of Lords, Lord Benyon said supply chains could be affected after recent outbreaks of the disease, which have led to culls of large numbers of birds across the country.

He said the UK has a "resilient supply chain" and that there was no need to panic-buy.

Despite this, Rachel Edmonds, from The Butcheress, which supplies meat across Worcestershire, said she had sold hundreds of turkeys this week alone, as well as taking in extra stock in case of shortages further down the line.

She said: "We have lots in stock and have an offer on at the moment, so people are definitely buying - we have sold 400 already this week.

"I have bought plenty for the freezer just in case, but yes there will be shortages.

"Not only are places culling early due to the Bird Flu risk, a lot of farmers aren’t doing any turkeys this year due to increase in feed prices."

Lord Benyon told the House of Lords that he could not guarantee the traditional turkey lunch would not be affected by the epidemic, but insisted there is no need to panic buy.

The international environment minister said: "We are seeing increasing number of turkeys falling prey to this disease, but at the moment, the situation for Christmas turkeys is there or thereabouts OK.

"But I wouldn’t like to predict, if it carried on at the current rate, there wouldn’t be some impact."

The Government has taken several steps to tackle the UK’s largest ever outbreak of avian influenza.

While they have focused on biosecurity, they are also now enforcing a housing order in England, where poultry are to be kept inside, from Monday, November 7.

They are also allowing farmers to slaughter their turkeys early, freeze and then defrost and sell as fresh later in the year, and are also offered farmers compensation from the outset of a planned cull instead of the end.