Processing. Did my first. Have questions from experts!

Discussion in 'Turkeys' started by furbabymum, Nov 18, 2013.

  1. furbabymum

    furbabymum Chillin' With My Peeps

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    So we killed our first ever turkeys this weekend as someone was having their Thanksgiving early. The first bird we killed was a bourbon red tom. We ended up throwing him away so I have questions about that to anyone who has bird processing knowledge. Basically our kids were giving us hell and I hadn’t put the bird in quarantine beforehand so he’d eaten. He’d eaten a fair bit of grass as that’s what his crop was full of. Anyway so I’m taking care of the kids when my husband starts swearing up a storm that some poo got onto the carcass and this is why we quarantine. So we were a little unsure about whether this meant the entire bird was bad. If we could wash it or not. So I did finish cleaning it out and washed it off. Called a meat processor in our area who said that eating it would be a risk. So we threw it away. It felt awful doing that. What would you have done? Did we do the right thing? Could we have eaten it? Since the poo was just in 1 small area could we have cut up the bird for parts?? Total suckage with that.

    So moving on, yesterday we kill another bird because we have to fulfill the order ya know. So we killed a BBW hen. I processed her entirely alone. It was pretty freaking I will admit. I’ve never processed a bird alone before, I’m usually the assistant. But I looked at pictures online and went nice and slow with my cutting. I think I did a pretty amazing job. I kept the bird and the area really clean. I would put the bird in the sink to be rinsed while I wiped down the counter in between processing items. I just felt like it went pretty well though it took FOREVER! So we delivered our first turkey order and I was pretty happy about it.

    I was wondering from experienced processors how you get all those feathers out. We have a plucker and it does a good job but we still end up with quite a few feather tubes stuck in the bird that I was using tweezers to get out. It was pretty hard work. So what do you do?
     
  2. my sunwolf

    my sunwolf Chillin' With My Peeps

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    These are all my opinions on the topic, I'm sure others might disagree, but we have processed a fair number of birds.

    On poop and sanitation: You can DEFINITELY just wash it off! If it gets on the meat, just make sure to run it under water for a really long time IMMEDIATELY after you spill the crop or intestines or a little poop comes out the vent. Meat processors are supposed to toss anything that gets poo on it because of high concentrations of bacteria in factory raised chicken poop (of course, this is only what they are supposed to do, it does not always happen in every processing plant). From your back yard, your bacteria count will not be as high as a commercial operation, and you are very focused on that one carcass so can take the time to rinse well. Another trick that processors use that you can do at home is to wash thoroughly under running water and then pour a little fresh whey over the carcass; this creates a colony of good bacteria that deters the growth of the bad bacteria. However, some people can detect the milky taste with whey, so commercial processors may use lactic acid, a similar product that has been refined to not have a taste or smell.

    On pin feathers: I have a friend who gets all her meat USDA processed (they are a fairly large operation, keeping under 1,000 a year but just barely). The processors put the carcasses through a plucker and if pin feathers remain afterwards, they just bag them up like that. That's why it helps to raise white birds for meat as the pin feathers are less noticeable. We use the back of a knife to pop the pin out. It sometimes helps if you re-scald. You can also wait and slaughter young birds who are not in the middle of a youth molt, but this is harder to detect and talk about slowing the process down! If you're only doing a few at a time, this might be something to think about as feathers that are fully grown in will come out easier with a plucker.
     
  3. furbabymum

    furbabymum Chillin' With My Peeps

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    /sigh I had a feeling it would have been fine to just wash. Men!!!!!!!! (No offense if you're a man. :p)

    We are going to be doing 8 turkeys this Sunday for Thanksgiving. I'm not going to feed them friday and then Saturady we are going to move them all into a horse trailer to wait until slaughter time. i'm hoping in this way they'll be completly empty inside and we won't have this issue again.
     
  4. my sunwolf

    my sunwolf Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Ha, I am really not a man and that's probably exactly what I would have said [​IMG]

    You can't ever really completely empty their systems, the best way to be sanitary is to do a moderate starve and to get really good at processing. 24hrs is the MAX you should starve before slaughter as even 12hrs puts a lot of stress on their systems (which is not supposed to be good for the meat). I would also suggest adding apple cider vinegar to their water during the starvation time--this has actually been proven to help change pH in their systems and cut down on bad bacteria counts.

    Sounds like yall are doing a great job, though, don't stress out too much about it!
     
  5. furbabymum

    furbabymum Chillin' With My Peeps

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    This is good to know. Thank you. Guess I was going a bit overkill.
     

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