GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Poultry farms and local shops encourage consumers to reserve or buy their Thanksgiving turkey early.

Inflation coupled with the worst avian influenza outbreak within the U.S. for the past seven years has lead to a shortage of turkeys and turkey breast for the upcoming November holiday.

“We’re capped this year on our orders,” said Aiden Brady, co-owner of E.A. Brady’s butcher shop in Midtown. “There is very low likelihood that if we need more turkeys from the pick of the farm we like to work with, that we will be able to get them.”

More than 47 million birds were impacted by bird flu this year across 42 states. The highly pathogenic flu was first discovered in Michigan in February this year. A popular commercial poultry operation also had to “euthanize” 35,000 turkeys at its facility in May to protect other flocks, according to the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

Brady imports his turkeys from Otto’s Turkey Farm in Middleville, Michigan. He said that while their price per pound is higher than that of a frozen bird, the quality of meat is superior.

“They are not given any type of antibiotics,” said Silvia Atsma, the director of marketing at Harvest Health Foods, which also gets its turkeys from Otto’s. “They are not given any additional hormones. They are raised a good turkey life as a domesticated turkey should be.”

According to the USDA, the average price per pound of turkey has increased nearly 18% from last year. Additionally, the cost of grain, transportation, packaging and labor have also increased. Customers should expect to see a sizable price increase for their holiday bird. 

“I think people are still going to do the turkeys. It’s such an iconic item,” Brady said. “I think they’re going to want to do smaller turkeys … and something like a ham that’s less expensive.”

Poultry experts recommend you buy a bird that’s at least 12 to 14 pounds. When a bird is smaller than that, the ratio of bones to meat is much smaller. Atsma said buyers should also consider the whole bird.

“Use your carcass for soup, so you can use that for broth all year round,” she added.

Turkeys ordered from Harvest Health Foods must be submitted by Nov. 12. Atsma said, like Brady, that the store will not be able to go over the amount pre-agreed upon with the farm. As of now, they have received nearly 150 orders.