TODAY   |  November 19, 2013

Butterball announces shortage of large turkeys

Butterball, the largest turkey producer in the country, announced that its production of large turkeys is down by 50 percent from last year as Thanksgiving looms. The company said there has been a problem with the birds gaining weight at its production farms.

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>> seems unthinkable. brace yourselves. but could there be a turkey shortage this close to thanksgiving? here's gabe gutierrez.

>> reporter: it's the centerpiece of the thanksgiving feast.

>> where's the turkey, chuck?

>> reporter: every last week in november, americans gobble up more than 700 million pounds of turkey. but this year, butterball, the nation's largest turkey producer is telling some retailers shipments of large, fresh turkeys will be slashed by 50%. the company says it's poultry had trouble gaining weight on some of its farms and, quote, while we are continuing to evaluate all potential causes we are working to remedy the issue. after all, who wants a skinny turkey? on average the birds now weigh 63% more than in 1965 . the typical size of a thanksgiving turkey is 16 pounds. enough to feed eight adults with leftovers.

>> i try to get a large one because we usually have company every year.

>> 16 pounds.

>> reporter: but fear not poultry lovers. butterball still has enough frozen turkeys plus fresh ones smaller than 16 pounds and no other suppliers are reporting shortages. so rest easy america. it appears this holiday staple is safe for now and that's plenty to be thankful for. for today, gabe gutierrez, nbc news, miami.

>> well, that's a relief.

>> thank goodness.