No Turkey for Thanksgiving?

U.S. bird flu outbreak may mean no turkey for Thanksgiving


The largest-ever U.S. outbreak of avian influenza, which has devastated Midwestern poultry and egg producers in recent weeks, could be felt at Thanksgiving tables across the nation come November, farmers and some trade groups say. The virulent H5N2 strain has already spread to 14 states and led to the deaths or scheduled euthanizations of more than 21 million birds, including 3.3 million turkeys in Minnesota, the nation’s top turkey producer. And now, with Thanksgiving just seven months away, farmers say they may be running out of time to raise enough turkeys –the traditional centerpiece of holiday feasts – to meet the demand. Once a farm has been infected, flocks must be culled, composted in barns, then disposed of. Buildings must then be thoroughly disinfected. The whole process can take up to three months before a new flock of turkey poults can be brought in, said Steve Olson, executive director of the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association. After chicks are re-introduced to the barns, farmers say, it typically takes about four months to produce a full-sized hen – the type of turkey most Americans prefer for their holiday feasts. If breeder farms that supply the young birds have also been infected – as some in Minnesota have – simply acquiring the chicks could prove challenging. And in Minnesota, there’s still no sign of an end to the outbreak, despite tight biosecurity measures and quarantines. Already, at least one turkey processing plant has cut back on workers’ shifts because of a lack of birds to slaughter. “We’re going to have fewer turkeys coming out because of this,”
Comment: Image source: Norman Rockwell's Freedom from Want (painting)


  1. Hey, we still got plenty of turkeys, just not the kind you serve at Thanksgiving. Dayton, Franken, Ellison.....

  2. Does this mean I could start stockpiling turkeys now and sell them at huge markups on Ebay in November? Hmm...how long do they last in a freezer?


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