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Butterball Reports Fresh Turkey Shortage For Thanksgiving

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – It's that time of year -- and these turkeys are not long for this world.

And the growing popularity of fresh turkeys has created a Thanksgiving Day problem for many consumers.

"We stopped taking orders yesterday morning, and we have about 110 people on a waiting list so far," Beverly Pounds of Pounds Turkey Farm in Leechburg told KDKA money editor Jon Delano.

Fresh, unfrozen turkeys may be hard to come by this Thanksgiving, especially for the favorite size bird over 15 pounds.

"Butterball, in particular, their turkeys that were slated to grow into particular sizes for some reason did not gain weight as they had planned, so they have the turkeys, but they don't have the size range they had planned for," Pounds said.

And that has put a run on local turkey farms that cater to the fresh turkey crowd.

At Pounds Turkey Farm, more than 8,000 turkeys are sold every Thanksgiving and, believe it or not, with more than a week to go, all the turkeys have already been sold.

"To stop [selling turkeys] altogether -- this usually happens the Saturday before the holiday, so this is early for us as well," said Pounds.

Pounds opened up one of the turkey coops where the turkeys are fed and raised over 16 to 22 weeks before the birds are caught for processing.

Catching them is not easy, and while some were let go, most end up slaughtered, and then cleaned, washed, some carved into pieces, with most getting bagged, labeled, cooled in cooling rooms and boxed for shipment.

While frozen turkeys are still plentiful, Deb Simmons of Ford City is glad her order was placed in October.

"It's fresh turkey," she said. "All natural. That's what people want nowadays."


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