Avian flu could keep turkeys out of your Thanksgiving Day meal

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- You may not know it, but there is a chance your Thanksgiving will not go as planned. The problem is a looming turkey shortage.

In Texas, our turkeys are in good shape, but the bulk of the supply comes from the Midwest where an outbreak of avian flu is forcing turkey farmers to kill their flocks.

You might not be thinking about Turkey right now, but we all know its what draws families together on Thanksgiving Day.

"I usually go to my grandmother's house and have dinner over see the family and catch up with old family members," consumer Austin Howell said.

But Thanksgiving plans for millions of Americans might have to change.

Avian flu has forced turkey farms in the mid west to slaughter millions of the birds.

Considering it takes a few months to raise table ready turkeys, time is running out to replace the birds lost to the flu outbreak. And that could be a big problem later in the year when demand for turkey starts to peak.

"Definitely because there is going to be a shortage, and they can't get anymore right now, a lot of them can't to hatch them out and have them ready November," said Phyllis Burns, who raises heritage breeds which take longer to mature.

But large scale turkey producers say the birds most Americans eat takes about four months raise.

Since Thanksgiving turkeys are typically processed beginning September, that leaves the prospect of a shortage looming on the horizon.

"Eggs, the same way there is going to be a shortage of eggs if it happens too," Burns said.

Burns says that's because avian flu is also devastating chicken producers. While chicken meat will not be impacted, egg laying hens are being slaughtered and it takes a few months to replace them.

Experts say egg prices could rise by 50 cents per dozen in the coming weeks.

The good news, so far Texas does not have any cases of avian flu.

If you are worried about having turkey on the table in November, you can always buy one now and keep it in the freezer. null
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