AMES — While several cases of highly pathogenic avian influenza are reported in commercial Iowa turkey flocks in recent days, officials with the Iowa Turkey Federation says the turkey supply is safe and there will be plenty of birds for roasting at Thanksgiving.
Morgan Pothoven, spokeswoman for the Ames-based organization, says Iowa producers are striving to ensure their flocks — and consumers — are protected from bird flu.
“Farmers are working diligently to mitigate the spread,” Pothoven says. “They practice really good biosecurity, creating that line of separation and just tracking movement on and off the farm, so they ensure to not spread diseases. Farmers have worked diligently to mitigate the spread so that we don’t have a supply chain issue for turkey.”
State ag officials say migrating wild birds are the likely source of the bird flu outbreaks. Despite the setbacks where outbreaks were confirmed, Pothoven anticipates there will be an ample supply of turkeys for the big holiday later this month.
“Shopping early is always recommended when you are looking for a specific size, but you can guarantee that there’ll be turkeys for you at Thanksgiving — at a reasonable price,” Pothoven says. “Grocers plan and often your turkey is actually on sale, so the most economical way to feed your family is actually your Thanksgiving meal because of the deals that many grocers run.”
Most of the turkeys that are raised in Iowa are used for products like sliced sandwich meats, not the type of whole bird you’d put in the oven at Thanksgiving. “Your whole birds are coming from some other states,” Pothoven says, “but it’s a good reminder that turkey is more than just for at Thanksgiving and you can support Iowans by buying turkey year round.”
Iowa is the nation’s seventh largest turkey producer with an estimated 12-million birds raised here each year.