It’s time to gobble up that Thanksgiving turkey, and if you think the turkey at the grocery store has gotten smaller, it’s not your imagination.
David Anderson, a livestock economist at Texas A&M, says it’s true, this year’s crop of turkeys is smaller than usual.
He says he had trouble finding a turkey that was big enough for his family when he went bird shopping over the weekend.
“My wife wanted a 14 turkey, and I had a hard time finding one that was sorta that weight,” he said. “We had a lot of them that were bigger, and a whole lot of them that were smaller. But that weight, which is perfect for your standard family, I had to dig around in the bin fro a while.”
And he says when he finally came across a turkey that wasn’t, well, a turkey...it was more expensive than usual.
:The 14 to 20 pound category seems to be the weight class where they have been a little short,” he said. “The turkey industry has been hit with high costs all year.”
He says turkeys are more like a plant crop than most livestock. While a cow or a pig will take two or three years to fatten up to the point when it brings top dollar at the supermarket, the turkey you buy this month was born this past spring. In fact, domesticated turkeys raised for farming would not live to see Thanksgiving 2014 if they had not been killed to become the centerpiece of your 2013 Thanksgiving dinner.
The President will make a big deal this week out of ‘pardoning’ a turkey. But the roaster the President will pardon will die anyway in just a few months, due probably to heart failure from taking on the weight that roasters are bred to accumulate.
So Anderson says, with generally only one year to prepare for the slaughter, turkeys are a lot more vulnerable to the usual changes of weather and rural economics.
“Whether can affect the rate that they eat, the weight that they gain, feed qualities,” he said. “Especially as we get later and later on a short crop, it could be hot weather at the wrong time.”