LACKAWANNA COUNTY, Pa. — The line of people grew inside the turkey pickup area at Pallman Farms in Lackawanna County while employees carried out bird after bird for customers.
Craig Pallman says they raised and processed about 9,000 turkeys this year, about 1,000 fewer than usual because of some shortages at the hatchery.
"We probably sold out a little bit sooner than we do in normal years. And I think a lot of that was because of the turkey shortage that does exist. You know, there is a shortage nationwide on frozen inventory, which has placed increased demand on fresh, which is what our business is built on," Pallman said.
Pallman says they expected issues along the way, like the rising costs to feed the birds, but didn't expect to have to take extra measures to protect the turkeys from the bird flu.
In September, the Pennsylvania Game Commission notified the farm of a dozen Canada geese found dead not far away at Griffin Reservoir that tested positive for the disease. The farm went on biosecurity lockdown to prevent what could have been a devastating loss to the business if even one bird got sick.
Pallman says this has been one of the most stressful years.
"That threat was something that was really, really, really hard to fathom. But you know, we're here, and we're talking about it now, so I'm not going to complain about it."
Getting over the hurdle of having enough turkeys was one thing, but ensuring enough people to process them was another.
"Once we start the process of removing them from the buildings impacted, it's a small window. But you know, it's like that every year, and we've been able to source enough labor to get it done."
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