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Your holiday turkey will cost more this year. Local farmers recommend ordering early

four turkeys in a grassy field
Mikkel Bergmann

Increasing prices for just about everything mean the cost of poultry items like eggs and holiday turkeys will be higher this year. If you plan to order from a local producer, farmers say you'd better get your order in now.

The Tewes family has been raising chickens and turkeys in Northern Kentucky for decades, first in Edgewood before relocating to Erlanger in 1944. Dan Tewes runs the place now and his daughter, Stephanie, helps out. She says they raise about 3,000 turkeys each year.

"My biggest advice would be try to get your order placed (early) so that if our farm, or whoever you order from, needs to cut off ordering, you have placed your order for turkey," Stephanie Tewes recommends.

While she says she doesn't keep up with retail grocery poultry sales, she has heard from those who do.

"Some of my friends that work in retail spaces like that have reached out and just said, 'Hey, heads up, we're not getting as many turkeys as we normally would.' "

The culprit, unsurprisingly, is the same one causing most grocery prices to go up.NPR reports the cost of food has risen nationally by nearly 11% in the past year.

"The reason why our turkey prices have gone up is because of all the other things that go with the turkeys that have made us have to increase our prices," she explains. "Our turkeys eat a corn meal mash and the price of that food has gone up; therefore that's going to raise the price of raising the turkeys and we therefore have to raise our prices also."

Gasoline prices cause production costs to increase, too, she notes, since they increase the cost of doing business — transporting turkey feed, etc.

Tewes says you should be asking family members and friends now if they're coming to holiday dinner so you can start planning what size bird you need to order. If you plan to order from Tewes Farm, you'll need to do so online, and soon.

"If we have to cut off orders, I don't want to have to say to someone that's been getting their turkey from my dad for the last 50 years, 'I'm sorry, you didn't place your order in time.' "

Avian flu

The threat of avian flu hasn't helped poultry prices either. The outbreakis affecting 42 states, resulting in farmers culling some 47 million birds.

Last week, turkey was clocking in at $1.99 per pound, up from $1.15 one year ago, according to the USDA National Retail Report. Prices did drop somewhat this week to $1.46, but remain high, and aren't expected to make a marked decline.

Tewes says they don't talk about avian flu.

"That's a really bad word that we don't like to use because we don't want to have that happen here," she says. "We don't bring it up so that hopefully it doesn't come to our farm because, really, there's not a whole lot you can do once it gets here. We're just trying to do our normal thing like always — our birds don't really interact with other birds so we're hopeful that we can make it to Thanksgiving without any issues."

Senior Editor and reporter at WVXU with more than 20 years experience in public radio; formerly news and public affairs producer with WMUB. Would really like to meet your dog.