MISSOULA, Mont. - One of the largest turkey producers in the United States has announced a shortage in its supply of fresh, large turkeys. The shortage includes the company's birds 16 pounds or larger.
Company officials say they do not currently have an answer as to why the birds didn't fatten up in time for Thanksgiving. The company has not said if it has changed its feeding formula at all this year.
Butterball produces frozen turkeys most of the year, and then transitions to fresh turkeys in October and November. The weight issue has not come up for other turkey producers in the U.S.
A supermarket chain based in Springfield, Mass., reported that they were notified that fresh, large Butterball turkey orders across the nation were sliced by 50 percent.
NBC Montana placed some calls to chain grocery stores in western Montana to track the impact.
A worker at Albertson's in Missoula stated that the store was not affected, because it only buys frozen Butterball turkeys.
Safeway in Whitefish reported that they received fresh Butterball turkeys already, and it was the only shipment they had been expecting.
A worker at a Safeway store in Bozeman reported that the store had handful of fresh, large Butterball turkeys. He said the store is restricted from ordering more.
Many smaller western Montana supermarkets rely on local sources. Orange St. Food Farm in Missoula, for instance, relies on local Hutterite colonies for their fresh turkeys. Starting Friday, roughly 500 turkeys will be brought to the store.
The larger bird orders are going quick, and workers expect the real Thanksgiving rush to kick into gear on Friday.
"After Friday things just get nuts and they run through the day before Thanksgiving all the way up until closing, completely crazy. We slow down a little on Thanksgiving, then things die the day after," said floor manager Vanessa Hendrix.