FORT DEPOSIT, AL (WSFA) - The National Turkey Federation says 46 million turkeys are eaten each Thanksgiving, and about 4,500 of those come from a turkey farm, right here in Alabama. There's no doubt you've heard of Bates Turkey Farm in Fort Deposit and its restaurant, Bates House of Turkey, in Greenville.
While rumors fly of a turkey shortage this year, the folks at Bates say they're still going strong, just like they've done for the past 80 years. It may take an entire day to prep for Thursday's meal, but John and Ben Bates have been preparing for Thanksgiving for months.
"We get our baby turkeys in July when they're a day old," John Bates says. "You can hold them in the palm of your hand. And then it takes about 12 to 14 weeks to get them to the size that we want, and then we process them. And now we're trying to find them a home."
The father-son duo at Bates Turkey Farm are trying to find homes nearly 5,000 turkeys in 2014.
"I don't even want to think about it; that's too many to think about," Ben Bates says.
One thing the turkey patriarch does think about: supply and demand. It's the reason he says consumers have heard rumors of a so-called turkey-shortage.
"There's really not a turkey shortage, there's just a big demand because I guess there is, well you go to the grocery store, pork is way up and so is beef," John Bates explains.
From the farm to the table, from Mobile to Birmingham, Bates' turkeys will be enjoyed by many, and that sits well with the man behind the family business.
"You meet someone and they say "hey I had your turkey it was great!", that's rewarding," John Bates admits.
It's true that production is down, and that wholesale prices are up for turkey. But the important takeaway for shoppers is that neither of these factors is necessarily translating to rising prices in stores.
John Bates says while his turkeys may have laid fewer eggs this year, business is on par with last year and profits are up.