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Processing big birds

Discussion in 'Turkeys' started by AA Maple, Nov 2, 2015.

  1. AA Maple

    AA Maple Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have 4 BBW toms that were 1 week old the first of July. They are getting very big now. I've had to stop letting them out to pasture since they're terrorizing my neighbor (mostly sneaking into his garage and leaving their calling cards) and they're not cooperative about going back in their house at night.

    So in 3 more weeks these things are really going to be enormous. It was a 2 person job knocking the heads off of my Cornish X broilers at 5-10 pounds dressed how am I going to wrestle these things into a position where I can dispatch them with a blade?

    Any pointers on managing a very large turkey? How big of a pot will I need to blanch them for plucking? If I were to try to use a cone (I used a stump with a couple nails in it and an axe for my chickens and ducks) how big of a cone would I need for a full grown tom?
     
  2. QueenMisha

    QueenMisha Queen of the Coop

    Cones don't really fit turkeys. I would just hang it by the legs. You can wrap it in an old tshirt to stop it from hitting you with its wings. I've done two different methods for bleeding; you can either hang them, or if you have a steep hill somewhere nearby you can tie the legs to a cinder block and then push it down the side of the hill so it lands on its belly, and that gets a decent gravity bleed as well. For hanging, you need to do it somewhere they can't hit their wings on anything. I, for example, hang them from the bottom of my deck, between two posts. I've also done one by nailing together two two by fours in the shape of an L, turning it upside down, and nailing it to a tree. You should tie each leg individually. As for water, I don't know how you scald, but I use a large metal trashcan, and heat up water in the four biggest pots in the kitchen. In a 30 gallon trashcan, for example, the water should fill it 1/3 to 1/2 of the way. 1/2 for sure for a full grown BB Tom.
     
  3. AA Maple

    AA Maple Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Can you elaborate on the cinder block business? I don't think I follow you there. Tie them onto a cinder block and throw it down the hill to kill the bird? I was trying to manhandle one of them last week and it whacked me upside the head and it wasn't pleasant. I really don't want to have to go a few rounds toe to toe with all these birds!

    I do have a large food grade 40 gallon barrel that I can just fill with water boiled in my stainless pots. I've got a five, six and eight gallon stainless pot here and a couple gas burners to boil over so I figure I can get 30 gallons of 150 degree water in a barrel. I know these barrels take boiling syrup so hot water shouldn't be an issue.
     
  4. R2elk

    R2elk Overrun With Chickens

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    You should check out the Meat Birds ETC forum. Processing poultry of all kinds has been a topic there.

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/f/21/meat-birds-etc

    When I was still raising BBWs, I would shoot them in the back of the head with a .22 before I would chop off their heads. I was able to scald them in a 25 gallon tub with 160°F hot water.

    Before I switched to shooting them, I would use electrical tape to tape their wings in position and also to tape their legs together.

    Good luck.
     
  5. QueenMisha

    QueenMisha Queen of the Coop


    Not to kill the bird, just to bleed. Cut the throat before you push them down. The cinder block is to stop them from running away or getting up. And yeah, the wings hurt. Definitely put a tshirt around them beforehand, it helps tremendously. There's also kind of something hilarious about a turkey wearing a t shirt. Bonus points if it's a Hunger Games t shirt like I used for my first turkey!

    That sounds like a fine scalding system. You should do great! I've always found turkeys so much easier to process than chickens; killing and moving them is harder, sure, and plucking takes longer, but evisceration is a breeze - no squeezing and angling to get your hand in there like with chickens, or, god forbid, teeny tiny things like quail and partridge.
     
  6. AA Maple

    AA Maple Chillin' With My Peeps

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    So somehow hold them still long enough to tie a leg to a cinder block, then cut its throat standing and it'll flop/tumble down the hill and just sort of hang along the slope of the hill?

    I'm leaning more and more towards head-shot, chop, then just hang on a 2X4 laid across a couple sawbucks. No worries up here about shooting in the yard. I do have a friend who runs a coffee roaster up here so may look for a burlap coffee sack to stuff them in to keep them from flapping. I wear my shirts until you can see light through them and wouldn't ruin one for the sake of turkey dinner.
     
  7. LovedMyAlydar

    LovedMyAlydar Chillin' With My Peeps

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    What we do is cut a small hole in the corner of one of those plastic type feed bags (Purina, Nutrena, etc.) Stick their head out of it and straddle them on the ground. My husband strokes their head until they basically fall asleep, then he slits their throat and bleeds them out. Takes just a few minutes, but they do flap pretty vigorously, but that is why you straddle them and basically sit on them, so they don't bruise the meat and/or get away. The bag contains the wings. We then use a hack saw to get the head off, and dry pluck them. It's actually pretty easy to do. We have never used hot water, just pluck the feathers , chop off the feet, and clean out the guts, rinse them good and let them cool in icy salt water for a couple hours, then put them in a pan, cover with a bag and leave them in the frig for 4 days to let the rigor mortis come out. They taste divine!!
     
  8. AA Maple

    AA Maple Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Great tip on the feed bag! I always have a couple of those around.

    Honestly I'm pretty hesitant about slitting the throat. It seems pretty barbaric to me compared to a bullet or a nice quick chop.
     
  9. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    Something I've been doing for scalding my roosters that might work well for your big boys is using a cooler chest. I heat the water on the stove in the house in my big canning pot, then pour it in the cooler. My cooler is on wheels, so I just roll it to the barn. When I'm ready to dunk I check the temp and usually add a little cold water from the hose. We did a wild turkey this way last week and it was great. Lots of room to slosh the bird around and get the water all over, and having the lid keeps you from getting wet and losing all your hot water. We closed the lid and a boy just rocked the cooler around a minute. We did find you need to tie baling twine or something to the legs to be able to fish the bird out of the hot water [​IMG].
     
  10. neverbdone

    neverbdone Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I hang them and use tree loppers. Quick easy no drama.
     

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