Local farmers explain the multiple factors impacting this year’s turkey supply

KUNA, Idaho – Thanksgiving is four weeks away and due to recent cases of bird flu, as well as inflation and climate change, turkey farmers are finding themselves with fewer turkeys than usual.

Cabalo’s Orchard and Garden in Kuna is one of the premier local farms in Treasure Valley that offers locally grown turkeys for Thanksgiving every year.

“We started the year as usual at our normal time with 600 birds. They hadn’t even left the rooting barn yet and bird flu came to the area,” owner Cathy Cabalo said.

A farm several miles from Cabalo Orchard and Gardens was hit with bird flu earlier this year, and Cabalo says it forced them to keep their birds indoors, which was a major speed bump.

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Cathy Cabalo

“When we look at 600 turkeys, which are seasonal bread and butter, we didn’t dare let them out,” Cabalo said.

The farm was forced to put their turkeys indoors for another 6-8 weeks to protect them from any potential flu damage.

“Their natural behavior is to huddle very close together and when they snuggle up tightly they create a heap and unfortunately when they are small they smother the bottom ones,” she said. “We lost nearly half of our birds to a piling incident in the barn because they couldn’t get out.”

Down the street at Vogel Farms, they had to do the same and bring the birds indoors to protect them from disease.

“So that kind of slowed their growth a bit,” owner Deborah Rae Engelhardt-Vogel said. “We lost some that we normally wouldn’t have if they were allowed out. If they catch bird flu, they’re all dead. This has reduced our numbers a little.


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Plus – Cabalo says the heat wave that swept through Idaho also impacted the bird’s growth.

“The heat didn’t kill them, but it slowed them down,” she said. They couldn’t continue to grow and survive the heat, so their bodies naturally responded by stunting their growth.

When cooler temperatures finally arrived last month, growth started to pick up, but Cabalo Orchard and Garden says they are already depleted.

“We usually sell around the second week of November,” she said. “If we have a year without serious problems that bring them down, we have no problem with the sale. We will sell almost but not completely.

Vogel Farm

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“I know a lot of people are calling me and they’re just calling around and there’s no birds and they’re a lot more expensive this year,” Engelhardt-Vogel said.

Inflation drives up the prices of just about everything from animal feed to gasoline to equipment, which also has an impact on bird prices.

“We had to raise our price,” Engelhardt-Vogel said. “I’m not looking for a huge profit margin and just want everyone to be able to afford a turkey.”


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“Everything went up, so we sat down and did the math and we had to raise the prices,” Cabalo said. “Our world is changing, there are a lot of supply chain issues. There are many new diseases and climate change has been immense. Be understanding if your store or supplier is sold out and say, “ok maybe next year”. Life is constantly changing and we are doing our best.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, frozen turkey inventories are 24% lower than their three-year average due to ongoing supply chain shortages.

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