Bird flu drives business to East Tenn. turkey farmers

ROANE CO., Tenn. (WVLT) – Avian Influenza killed 7.1 million turkeys this year, according to the USDA. With a little more than two weeks left until Thanksgiving, smaller farms are filling the void left by big box stores.

“It’s been a pretty good season. They’ve done alright. I’m an experienced grower, so I usually don’t have a whole lot of problems with them,” said Tracy Monday, owner of Enlightenment Acres.

Monday’s farm is shaping up to have a great holiday season. He’s raising 65 turkeys. Many of them are already sold. “I’ve seen steady growth in customers,” said Monday. “I think a lot of people are turning away from the grocery stores.”

He attributed some of the farm’s growth to bird flu and industrial farming practices. Industrial farms are known to overfeed turkeys with steroids and make the birds live in confinement, according to Monday.

“There was an Avian Flu outbreak in a lot of the commercial flocks. That’s really reduced the amount of turkeys people are going to find on supermarket and major grocery store shelves,” said Nick Carter, CEO and Co-Founder of Market Wagon.

“That same disease didn’t quite impact the local small pasture-raised flocks the same way, so our local farmers are sitting here with a supply of turkeys a lot of people are clamoring to find,” said Carter.

Monday raised prices on turkeys this year because of pricier feed, but overall, global supply chain issues have not affected Enlightenment Acres.