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Yordy Turkey Farm in Morton faces a record number of pre-orders as Thanksgiving nears

With Thanksgiving just one week away, the rush to find a turkey for the holiday meal is in full swing.

That’s no surprise to Christine Yordy, partial owner of Yordy Turkey Farm in Morton, who notes that while the business is open year round, the weeks before Thanksgiving are always the busiest, with the farm averaging about 10,000 turkeys sold every year.

“We are very much a seasonal business, so the majority of our turkeys are sold here within this Thanksgiving season,” said Yordy.

Yordy Turkey Farm has been in operation for 80 years and is one of the only farms located in central Illinois that raises and sells turkeys exclusively. Brent and Sally Yordy are the primary owners of the farm, and their son Travis Yordy is a partial owner with his wife Christine.

While the farm has 80 years of farm-to-table experience, the labor shortages and supply chain issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic have impacted the farm in new ways, though Christine notes the impact is not felt at Yordy’s as heavily as it is compared to some bigger turkey farm operations.

“We are not seeing a shortage on our end personally, and I think that's because we are unique in that we do manage everything end to end. These mass turkey operations ... they're seeing increases, you know, for all inputs, I mean, everything from feed prices, which we are seeing ... we are working through labor shortages as well... our pain points are short lived, but we absolutely are feeling it on the labor side,” explained Yordy.

Christine Yordy
Christine Yordy, partial owner of Yordy Turkey Farm.

That labor shortage isn’t ideal to have this season, since more people are likely staying home to catch up on the Thanksgiving celebration they put on hold last November. That means a higher demand for turkeys, and Yordy admits that while the farm is keeping up with that demand currently, she doesn’t know how long that will last.

“In years past we could always accommodate walk-ins and you know, day by day as we’re looking at our numbers I can't in full honesty tell you right now if we'd be able to accommodate those walk-ins the day before Thanksgiving,” said Yordy.

The focus at the moment is the farm's pre-orders for turkeys. Many people are being more proactive and advance-ordering far sooner this season than ever before.

“Our pre-orders are larger than they've ever been in years past, and so we fully expect to sell out once again, so that's why we're encouraging to order ahead because we want to do everything we can to get people what they want,” said Yordy.

To offset such high demand, a rise in the cost of feed prices, and a labor shortage, the farm did have to slightly raise prices on their turkey products. While the pandemic and associated shortages have placed a slight strain on the business, it has also helped it.

“We typically year over year see around a 5% increase with new customers, and we saw a 30% increase in new customers last year. We attribute that to a lot of people, they weren’t traveling,” noted Yordy.

COVID-19 has also allowed the farm to make and keep positive changes, like a drive-thru pickup service as a way to better accommodate even more customers with safety continuously being a top priority of the farm. That drive-thru service is continuing into this season.

When asked what made the turkeys at Yordy’s so special, there was no hesitation.

“Our turkeys are all natural...There's no hormones, there's no artificial preservatives after we process that turkey. There's no chemicals...If you're used to getting the traditional turkey from a store or a service, you know, if you're willing to try our turkeys, you're going to taste an instant difference in terms of freshness, in terms of how it cooks,“ said Yordy.

Every turkey comes with special cooking instructions. Since the turkey is never frozen and is as fresh as two weeks old, many people tend to overcook or burn them. However, if a Thanksgiving turkey disaster does take place, Yordy assures customers that help is just a phone call away.

“We're here. We live here. We will get you what you need. We're happy to help you at any time, so we would love to become part of everyone's tradition because it's what makes our holiday ours and we want to make sure that we make your holiday yours too.”

For more information on Yordy Turkey Farm, including products, pricing, and order forms, visit their website.

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Jody Holtz is WCBU's assistant program director and host of WCBU's newsmagazine All Things Peoria and WCBU's morning news podcast On Deck.