Farmers say bird flu, other issues causing turkey shortage ahead of Thanksgiving

A number of factors are contributing to a nationwide turkey shortage, from supply chain issues to the avian flu.
Published: Nov. 2, 2022 at 6:48 PM CDT
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CROCKETT, Texas (KTRE) - Finding that perfect Thanksgiving bird for the table could be more of a challenge this year. A number of factors are contributing to a nationwide turkey shortage, from supply chain issues to the avian flu.

The avian flu is taking a toll on turkeys this year. According to the U.S Department of Agriculture, 5.4 million turkeys have died due to exposure.

“Turkey is no different from chicken or ducks coming flying in from the north…on poultry operations, they’re going to have to take extreme measure,” said Texas A&M Agrilife Extension Service Agent of Angelina County Cary Sims.

Mortality rate is lower in wildfowl, such as duck and geese, but “the fact is they’re very much a carrier, so you can imagine any poultry farm having a pound nearby, that kind of goes hand in hand,” said Sims.

The USDA also reported turkey prices are 28% higher compared to this time last year.

As for small local restaurants, it seems it is always one thing after another.

“It’s been a barrel roll from COVID,” said Smitty’s BBQ Owner Brett Arnold. For him, finding vendors with turkeys has been a challenge.

“I went three months without getting any turkey breast for awhile,” said Arnold, leaving him to adjust his menu on days they can’t serve smoked turkey.

“It’s tough because you get customers that are used to it, and they keep coming in asking. Some understand it, some of them get upset.”

The CDC says avian flu or bird flu viruses usually do not infect people; it’s very rare. You cannot contract it from eating fully cooked chicken, turkey or duck.