BUTCHERS are facing an 'extremely stressful time' after being hit with staff and supply chain shortages - and a Bracknell business is no exception.

That’s the warning from Reeves Butchers and the National Farming Union (NFU) as the meat industry crisis intensifies.

Turkey farmers will be forced to ‘dig a hole and slaughter their own poultry’ if foreign worker regulations do not change, it's been claimed.

Hannah Reeves office manager for Reeves Butchers Bracknell, said: "There's a 10-15 day window when you have to start slaughtering the birds. A lot has to be prepared already for Christmas but with the shortage in lower-skilled labourers there's no one there for the slaughtering or plucking.

"Retail butchers and people like us don't have the storage or freezers to keep turkeys so we're mostly impacted by this.

Bracknell News: The Reeves Butchers, Bracknell The Reeves Butchers, Bracknell

READ MORE: Lorry driver shortage: why Bracknell driver won't come back

"We're just waiting for good news. It's been incredibly stressful but Covid and Brexit has created the perfect storm."

Reeves Butchers supply meat to chefs in local restaurants and care homes but when the hospitality industry closed during lockdown they sold meat to the public so the business could make money.

With the lead up to Christmas, however, the butchers said they won't be supplying turkeys to the general public despite getting 'lots of enquiries in recent days'.

A number of issues has also led to a stark shortage in workers to butcher and pluck turkeys ahead of Christmas, leaving farmers grappling with the prospect of slaughtering their own animals.

The NFU is currently lobbying the government to introduce new visas for foreign workers, most of whom come to the UK from Eastern Europe, in a bid to curtail the "impending disaster".

David George, communications manager for the south west at NFU, said: “The situation is not good.

ALSO READ: Petrol stations where you can and can't buy fuel today in Bracknell

“We’re in the position where we depend on labour from Europe and various circumstances have made working in the UK less appealing.

“We’ve not got a short window of opportunity to stop this impending disaster.”

The sector has been hit by the news that abattoirs are running out of carbon dioxide, used in the humane slaughter of animals.

As a nation we have become accustomed to an immediate supply of food and as a result there is ‘very little slack in the system’, David said.

The Times reported the British Meat Processors Association (BMPA) said the industry is short about 15,000 workers, with has forced its members to just focus on keeping supermarkets stocked with basic cuts of meat.

A BMPA spokesperson was quoted as saying: “We really should have been producing Christmas food from about June or July onwards this year and so far we haven’t, so there’ll be shortages of party foods and things like pigs in blankets. Anything that is labour-intensive work could see shortages.”