The U.S. Department of Agriculture says that avian flu has killed more than 50 million birds in the United States this year, making the outbreak the country's deadliest in its history.
Often, when a bird infected with the virus dies, entire flocks have to be killed to avoid further transmission.
As investor website Seeking Alpha reports, those flocks can often exceed a million egg-laying birds at various industrial chicken farms.
The outbreak has contributed to the rising cost of food amid high inflation.
Turkey farmers said avian flu, or bird flu, had taken a major toll on the industry in the months and weeks leading up to the Thanksgiving holiday, as demand usually soars.
Farmers in Idaho said they didn't expect there to be enough turkeys to satisfy demand in their area this year.
Cathy Cabalo of Cabalo Orchard and Gardens said, “We started off the year as normal with 600 birds. They had not even left the rooting barn, but the bird flu came into the area.”
Workers had to quarantine birds inside for an additional six to eight weeks after an outbreak.
“We locked them inside, 600 turkeys, the bread and butter to the season. We didn’t dare let them outside,” Cabalo said.
“It’s their natural behavior to cuddle very closely, and when they huddle closely they create a pile and unfortunately when they are small they will suffocate,” Cabalo said. “We lost almost half of our birds to a piling incident in the barn because they couldn’t go outside.”
Thomas Bennett of Bennett Farms in Michigan said the bird flu that spread in the spring started the shortage issue later this year.
"If I had 300 more turkeys right now, I could sell them. I just don't have them," said Bennett. "I joke with my costumers because they'll email me, 'Do you have a turkey hidden somewhere?' It's like no, I don't even know if I'm getting a turkey."
The issue has also affected chicken farmers as well, the Associated Press reported.
State and federal officials hoped the issue wouldn't be as widespread as it was during a 2015 outbreak that killed around 50 million chickens and turkeys and causing prices to soar. The new USDA data out on Thursday has the number of bird deaths just above that 2015 outbreak death count.
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