The market I grew up with and knew for the years I’ve run our farm, consists of most preserves booking the birds they need before the season, and then the preserves using the “spot” market to fill in at the end of the season. Factors such as weather, local economic trends, and marketing success (or lack of) leads to some preserves needing extra birds and other preserves looking to cancel ordered birds. In addition, the bird producers’ situation spans from producing too many birds on speculation, or having low mortality, leading to extra birds all the way to a farm that sustains a loss (weather or disease) and is short birds.
So the supply and demand of birds is in flux, just like it is for corn, or milk or gasoline. And the price of non-contracted birds fluctuates up and down (the spot price) enough to fill the shortage or use up the overage. The brokering of birds, where producers are buying and selling birds from other producers, was a part of this evening out of supply and demand,
With Avian Influenza entering the picture, brokering of birds is just downright dangerous. Often suppliers, who have too many birds, have too many birds for a reason. And often that reason is the extra birds aren’t in great shape (broken or missing tails for example). So realistically the chance of brokered birds being sick or diseased is higher. And even the thought of bringing healthy birds onto one’s farm is far more tenuous than it used to be.
So it’s my thought in the current (and most likely future) scenario, the brokering of birds will decrease, meaning the evening out of supply and demand will be more difficult. Some producers may get stuck with birds they can’t move, and some preserves may run out of birds and be unable to find birds to finish their season. We’re now in a different dynamic.