Happy with my turkey project.

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by Dogfish, Nov 21, 2011.

  1. Dogfish

    Dogfish Rube Goldberg incarnate

    Mar 17, 2010
    Western Washington
    I got a number of turkey poults last year, heritage birds, bronze, blue slate, and naragansetts. Raised them to maturity, and this spring they started laying. Right off the bat the eggs were fertile. Raised and sold a lot of poults, and lots of eggs, and then I realized that I need some birds for myself, as the broodstock would be off limits. I hatched 32 poults, and a hen hatched out 8 by herself. Ended up with 32 birds reaching after the neighbor's dog killed a few, and I lost 5 to unknown illness/trampling/? early on.

    "Fridge camp" happened yesterday for 10. Considering I started these birds in June and July, I'm pleased. The birds had average weights of about 12lbs, perfect for the smoker. Biggest was 14.5 lbs, blue slate, and the smallest was 10.5lbs (bronze). I took only toms this time around. I'll save a few for Christmas orders, and other happenings

    We'll see how they cook up. Baking one, smoking the other for ourselves. The rest are going to friends.

    Taking out 10 toms in a flock of 40+ birds certainly changed the dynamic of the flock. My biggest remaining broodstock tom has also changed his attitude towards me, making sure he is between the flock and me. At least that was the situation yesterday afternoon and this morning. We'll see how that goes. They free range, so they came over to investigate a few times during the process.

    Scalded at 155 degrees for 90 seconds. Hand plucked them, and the feathers literally fell/wiped right off, except for the wing an tail feathers. Those required minimal force. Took about 4 minutes per bird.

    Last edited: Nov 21, 2011
  2. chicmom

    chicmom Dances with Chickens

    Feb 24, 2009
    Strasburg Ohio
    Wow, thanks for sharing! I raised my first two turkeys this year. (Small potatoes, I know), but I don't think they're large enough to butcher yet. I bought them May 20. I think I would take them somewhere to be processed because I don't think I can handle that myself......I'm just not sure.

    What was the most difficult thing for you, when processing? I'd really like to try that one day.....

  3. Dogfish

    Dogfish Rube Goldberg incarnate

    Mar 17, 2010
    Western Washington
    I feel a bit of sadness as I slit each neck. That would have to be the hardest part. From there on out, I'm dealing with food, not a life, so it gets easier.

    Turkeys are such a beautiful bird, at least mine are, and raising them from poult to process makes you appreciate them more. I kill scores of ducks, pheasants, and other animals each year hunting, plus coons, possums and other predators that make the mistake of trespassing on our property, so I'm somewhat immune to killing, but the birds I raise are different. I had tears in my eyes when I gave the toast to "Tom" last Thanksgiving, a BBB. He would lean against you like a lab, so that was a hard bird to kill, but his body was breaking down and it had to be done. I made sure to keep some distance this year. All this sensitivity from a guy who wouldn't hesitate to drop the hammer on a deer, elk, bear, grouse or other game animal.

    One of my co-workers came over to get a turkey. She brought her kids, 4 and 8. We let them pick out a bird. We let them touch it, (they liked the snood) and then asked if they wanted to watch the process, which they did. They said a good word to the tom before I killed him. I let them know what I was doing all along, and they were pretty interested in seeing what was inside of a turkey.

    You might wish to have someone else do the kill on the first one, or attend someone else's butcher party. Always say a good word to your birds before you kill them.
  4. hydroswiftrob

    hydroswiftrob Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 18, 2011
    N. Texas
    My Coop
    Good Story. Thank you for sharing.
  5. chicmom

    chicmom Dances with Chickens

    Feb 24, 2009
    Strasburg Ohio
    Quote:I like that advice, thank you so much,
  6. zzGypsy

    zzGypsy Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 8, 2011
    so how long does the whole process take you for 10 birds?
    I may or may not be processing a bird this year, I've got a tom and 6 hens including a BBW I'd like to keep for a breeder next year, and so far she seems to be going along in a way that could work. (I'll watch to see if she gets too fat and needs to be processed.) at any rate, I'm planning for how to process, and how many poults to start (or hatch) at a time so I have reasonable sized processing batches.
    I haven't processed birds since I was a teen, we did ducks mostly, and I remember it being an all-day thing. how much of "all-day" I don't have a clear recall on. [​IMG]
    you're probably faster at this than I will be, but at least your time will give me an approximation.

  7. Dogfish

    Dogfish Rube Goldberg incarnate

    Mar 17, 2010
    Western Washington
    Quote:Started at killing at 9:30am and I was done with killing, plucking, and gutting by 1pm and I had them all in the chill tanks. Headed out hunting with the boys, came home, and it took me another 30 minutes to bag and shrink them (Cornerstone Farms shrink bags rock!). Mind you, I had 4 or 5 visitors during this time, so that slowed me down a bit, I process a single bird from start to finish instead of doing them in batches like I usually do, and I didn't have the benefit of a professional slaughter outfit like the one I use when we process CX.

    I could have probably knocked that process down to 3 hours without visitors. With the kill cones, professional scalder, and tub plucker, I could do that in maybe 1.5-2 hours. Heating the the scalder (crab cooker pot) and keeping it to temp was the biggest time issue.
  8. flowerchild59

    flowerchild59 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 25, 2010
    Southern IL
    Thanks for sharing your story.
  9. litterbitt

    litterbitt Out Of The Brooder

    Sep 6, 2010
    West Central GA
    Here is my first processed turkey! A tom, mixed breed heritage (daddy was a spanish black, mama either a naragansett or pencilled palm, or bourbon red)... live weight around 20 pounds, dressed weight 15.5. Very easy, scalded at 158, then into my whizbang-style plucker (which struggled a bit, but did ok). I plucked the tail feathers and some small feathers out before scalding for a crafty friend.
  10. bigshawn

    bigshawn Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 25, 2011

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