GREENWICH, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Finding a bird for this year’s Thanksgiving feast is going to be a challenge, even for a turkey farmer like Nellie Lovenduski at Slate River Farms in Greenwich.

“I don’t even know where I’m going to get my turkey yet this year,” said Lovenduski. “I think at a minimum you’re going to see an increase in price in turkeys even in the big box turkey providers.”

The birds are expected to be more expensive this November because there are far less of them to go around. Last year, Slate River Farms had nearly 100 turkeys grazing in an open field. This year, that same field is completely empty. Lovenduski says bird flu was a main reason why she and her husband did not raise a new flock.

“If your turkeys end up with bird flu, any other poultry on the farm whether its meat chickens, egg layers, they all have to be exterminated and that’s not only a huge financial loss that’s just a really sad situation,” she said.

Bird flu isn’t the only disease putting a damper on next Thanksgiving. So is coronavirus. COVID supply chain issues have caused the cost of poultry food to double since last year. Many meat processing plants are also struggling to hire.

“They can’t find people to work at the processing plants,” said Lovenduski. “It’s already kind of a difficult job to hire for and then you throw in COVID restrictions and just people trying to find people to work in general.”

Recent pricing trends reinforce those troubles. According to the USDA, these were the average prices for wholesale prices for frozen whole turkey hens:   

  • 2019 average: $0.89 per pound
  • 2020 average: $1.07 per pound
  • 2021 average: $1.23 per pound

Lovenduski says unlike her smaller farm, which prides itself in humane and healthy practices, big box turkey providers will be able to stock the shelves. However she says that will come at a cost to the customer.