Saskatoon thanksgiving: no turkey scarcity in sight

Despite the setbacks encountered by some Saskatchewan turkey farms due to avian flu, everyone should be able to get one in time for Thanksgiving.

That’s according to the Turkey Farmers of Saskatchewan.

On Sept. 22, an animal health order was issued by the Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture’s chief veterinary officer after several cases of the bird flu were confirmed in the province.

“Luckily this has not really affected our Thanksgiving in terms of availability of birds at the retail stores,” said co-administrator for the Turkey Farmers of Saskatchewan, Cinthya Wiersma.

“Our current frozen inventory is adequate enough to supply the market.”

In April, bird flu was detected in Saskatchewan for the first time in 15 years. According to Wiersma, just three of eleven turkey commercial farms operating in Saskatchewan were affected by the virus.

“In terms of Thanksgiving, everyone can have a turkey,” she said.

The impact of avian influenza might be more harshly felt by the affected sellers. Pine View Farms works with a partner producer who raises the turkeys for the farm, before they are processed at their butcher shop, and then sold to the public and stores in the province.

A few weeks ago the flu was discovered on their partner producer’s farm, which forced the producer to cull all of Pine View Farms expected Thanksgiving turkey supply.

“That’s a massive supply-chain distribution for us,” said Melanie Boldt Co-owner Pine View Farms All Natural Meats.

“Over the last couple weeks, we’ve scrambled to find a source of local turkeys that we could process for Thanksgiving.”

Pine View Farms was able to secure some turkeys ahead of the holiday. From October until December 40 per cent of the farm’s annual revenue comes in due to Thanksgiving and Christmas, with a large chunk of that made up from holiday turkeys.”

“It’s a super important time of year for us, and basically our profit season here on the farm,” said Boldt.

Due to the shortage, Pine View Farm forecasts its Thanksgiving revenue to be down by 50-70 per cent. Currently the farm has around 25 turkeys left, it’s encouraging people to consider other options from their farm like a roasted chicken, ham or one of their several beef options.

“We believe in Saskatchewan, we believe in the people who are here and we support each other when times are tough. We’re hoping that this holiday season we’ll see people here at the farm and at all local stores throughout Saskatchewan,” she said. 

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