Processing turkey for the first time.

Ametrina

In the Brooder
Jun 25, 2020
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My son participated in growing BBW market turkeys project for 4H. He got 3 poults July 1. On October 6, we took 1 of our toms to the state show, and he took 1st place in his class. Now we have two 35 or more pounds toms left. I tryed to fined someone who would process these birds for us without any luck, and decided to do this work myself. I never process turkeys or any other poultry in my life, and I do not have any special gadgets to do this work.I need advice on how to process these birds and kill them quick , so they would not suffer through the last moment of they lifes. Should I process one bird per week? I have limited refrigerator space to cool it off. Thank you in advance.
 

JustCallMeMaple

Songster
Aug 22, 2021
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So you can do it all with a knife. Use rope (or anything to tie it up upside down) kill and begin processing. If you have a turkey fryer you can use to heat water you can do the scald method (dip in water roughly 145 area) then dip in cold/ice bucket and pluck or dry pluck. I would do one a week so that you have time to rest one bird at a time. I'm a fan of letting rigor pass before eating or storing so I try to have fridge/freezer space ready first. The first time is the hardest to kill and process it gets easier each time. I do something similar to this but don't do the skin leg trick.
https://www.theprairiehomestead.com/2016/07/how-to-butcher-a-chicken.html
Just a single knife large cutting board, hose with running water if I need to rinse the carcass/feathers etc and my hands. The only fancy thing is using a propane turkey fryer as a scalding basin instead of dry plucking now I still hand pluck.
 

JustCallMeMaple

Songster
Aug 22, 2021
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The website 100% looks prettier than how I do it. I'm pretty wrist deep in the carcass or just rip the esophagus out. I pull the innards out and make small incisions to start. I pinch the lower abdomen and clip skin slowly opening the cavity wider to avoid puncturing the intestines, for all the very rough way it comes off that I do the carcass I'm very particular about not contaminating it with punctured intestines or busting gallbladders. I stick my hand up the cavity knuckles up on the bone of the breast and go as far in and just work my fingers up until you feel them and scoop out.
 

R2elk

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How many times I should dip turkey in hot water, and how long this process could take to defeather the bird? I do not have turkey fryer and will use 12 qt pot. Do you think it is large ?
In my opinion a 12 qt. pot won't be big enough. I use a 1 1/2 bushel container. I fill it with approximately 40 qts. of 160°F water. You submerse the carcass fully and swish it around for several minutes until the wing and tail feathers pull easily.

You can learn a lot about processing in the Meat Birds ETC forum.

 

Ametrina

In the Brooder
Jun 25, 2020
25
21
44
In my opinion a 12 qt. pot won't be big enough. I use a 1 1/2 bushel container. I fill it with approximately 40 qts. of 160°F water. You submerse the carcass fully and swish it around for several minutes until the wing and tail feathers pull easily.

You can learn a lot about processing in the Meat Birds ETC forum.

How long should I drain the blood from the bird?
 

JustCallMeMaple

Songster
Aug 22, 2021
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It's important to cool right away so it doesn't keep cooking. If the skin tears (happens when you first learn usually) it means the temperature was a bit high. If the skin has a yellow film after scalding it's like a sunburn safe to ear just got a bit precooked won't hurt anything and will store fine. I don't deal with flailing wings we make sure the body is secure (minimal thrashing) before killing because they will bruise their own meat while dying if they have a lot of wiggle room. Bruised meat is safe to eat just doesn't look pretty. We had a big boy that thrashed and bruised his wing and when I gutted him he was a "big boy" and have very good size testicles for his age. I figured no wonder he fought so hard lots of testosterone in that one. It's ok to goof up with the skin or feather plucking or not pretty cuts of the neck, as long as you don't puncture the intestines or break the gall bladder (rinse right away if you do) it'll be fine. I tend to just cut the tail off with the vent since I don't use it anyway and when I roast it's a space for juice to drip and if you split the spine to flay the bird it's one less clip later.
 

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