Processing turkey for the first time.

Mountain Roost

Songster
Mar 26, 2018
81
199
101
NE US
Confining the turkey's wings and legs are important. We cut a hole in the bottom of a feed bag (not paper) for the head and then slip the bag over the turkey like a sock. To keep the bag on make a small hole through the two layers and zip tie (or string/rope) the opening closed. We then put one zip tie around each leg, loosely, and then another zip tie to loop the leg ties together. We (two people for sure!) do this while the turkey is standing on a table or similar so its easier to get the feet. Now you have a turkey that can't kick or flap its wings.

Then you have to hang this heavy turkey securely. We made a contraption using a Shackle and large nut 'wadded' into the feed bag and held in place with more zip ties. Then used paracord attached to the shackle and around a strong tree branch. Make sure the turkey is hanging well away from the tree trunk.

For dispatch we used a tallish log round and draped the turkey neck over/on top of it for the hatchet. Note that turkeys are inquisitive and will want to watch what goes on. You may need to hold the head in place momentarily.

We let the bleed out go on for several mins. We like to walk away and take a breather after all that work and prepare for the next one.

Then we place the headless turkey in a large drum of cold running water and let the cool down begin. We mostly do chickens but our scalder of choice is a half 55 gal metal drum over a wood fire and it fits one turkey at a time. See post in this thread for details https://www.backyardchickens.com/threads/what-do-you-use-for-a-scalder.1457482/post-24325144

As others have said leave in scald water until wing and tail feathers come out easily. Also the feet skin coming off easily is a good test. Then hand pluck all feathers from the bird. They all count, feathers are not food and no one likes feathers on the dinner table.

For eviscerating, cut off feet, and tail, and wing tips. Put in ice water bowls. With turkey breast down, make a slice in the skin of the neck. Poke your finger down at the base of the neck (left side) and loop around the crop and separate it from the skin. The other neck stuff should follow suit. I like remove the esophagus at this time. You have to separate the crop at the top before you pull the guts out of the bottom.

With turkey breast side up pinch and make small incision above the vent. This is a blind cut so be careful of the intestines on the inside. Now you can see what you are cutting and can open the cavity fully side to side. Here we very carefully cut around the vent hole making sure not to nick the intestine tube attached to it. After opening you can reach in and separate the gizzard fat from the gizzard leaving it with the bird. Keep going in and feeling for any thin connective tissue and separate the bird from guts.

Now I reach in all the way to the top and slide my hand under each lung to remove them from the ribs. Also feel down towards the sides for any connective tissue. At the top you will find the crop and you can use that as a handle to pull out the entire gut and organ package.

Side note...we like to work on a raised stainless steel rack (like cookie cooling but stronger for turks) so that if there is any leakage from the vent hole our meat is not sitting in it.

As mentioned before the first time will be the hardest. You will find what works best for what you have on hand.

Age meat in fridge for 3 days before eating or freezing.
 
Last edited:

Ametrina

In the Brooder
Jun 25, 2020
25
25
44
Confining the turkey's wings and legs are important. We cut a hole in the bottom of a feed bag (not paper) for the head and then slip the bag over the turkey like a sock. To keep the bag on make a small hole through the two layers and zip tie (or string/rope) the opening closed. We then put one zip tie around each leg, loosely, and then another zip tie to loop the leg ties together. We (two people for sure!) do this while the turkey is standing on a table or similar so its easier to get the feet. Now you have a turkey that can't kick or flap its wings.

Then you have to hang this heavy turkey securely. We made a contraption using a Shackle and large nut 'wadded' into the feed bag and held in place with more zip ties. Then used paracord attached to the shackle and around a strong tree branch. Make sure the turkey is hanging well away from the tree trunk.

For dispatch we used a tallish log round and draped the turkey neck over/on top of it for the hatchet. Note that turkeys are inquisitive and will want to watch what goes on. You may need to hold the head in place momentarily.

We let the bleed out go on for several mins. We like to walk away and take a breather after all that work and prepare for the next one.

Then we place the headless turkey in a large drum of cold running water and let the cool down begin. We mostly do chickens but our scalder of choice is a half 55 gal metal drum over a wood fire and it fits one turkey at a time. See post in this thread for details https://www.backyardchickens.com/threads/what-do-you-use-for-a-scalder.1457482/post-24325144

As others have said leave in scald water until wing and tail feathers come out easily. Also the feet skin coming off easily is a good test. Then hand pluck all feathers from the bird. They all count, feathers are not food and no one likes feathers on the dinner table.

For eviscerating, cut off feet, and tail, and wing tips. Put in ice water bowls. With turkey breast down, make a slice in the skin of the neck. Poke your finger down at the base of the neck (left side) and loop around the crop and separate it from the skin. The other neck stuff should follow suit. I like remove the esophagus at this time. You have to separate the crop at the top before you pull the guts out of the bottom.

With turkey breast side up pinch and make small incision above the vent. This is a blind cut so be careful of the intestines on the inside. Now you can see what you are cutting and can open the cavity fully side to side. Here we very carefully cut around the vent hole making sure not to nick the intestine tube attached to it. After opening you can reach in and separate the gizzard fat from the gizzard leaving it with the bird. Keep going in and feeling for any thin connective tissue and separate the bird from guts.

Now I reach in all the way to the top and slide my hand under each lung to remove them from the ribs. Also feel down towards the sides for any connective tissue. At the top you will find the crop and you can use that as a handle to pull out the entire gut and organ package.

Side note...we like to work on a raised stainless steel rack (like cookie cooling but stronger for turks) so that if there is any leakage from the vent hole our meat is not sitting in it.

As mentioned before the first time will be the hardest. You will find what works best for what you have on hand.

Age meat in fridge for 3 days before eating or freezing.
Thank you for the information. I found a farmer who did the job for me this Monday. I paid $34 for both birds. My dad had surgery this week and I could not do the work on my own. After processing we got 35 and 37 pounds birds. Cooking one right now.
 

Deep Roots

In the Brooder
Mar 31, 2020
29
22
39
Hardest thing is slitting the throat well so they go fast. Chickens are quick and easy. Turkeys you need a very very sharp knife and you need to find the artery with your finger before you start slicing. The moment their heart races the artery almost retracts as their neck muscles contract to protect their neck. Slice both sides, not just one. Or make a curved cut. A diagonal slice with a downward direction also speeds things up. As there allows a larger surface area for bleeding out. After doing a whole mess of birds in the last couple years we are buying an electric probe to dispatch them. Way more humane and faster. It's also a bit of myth about they don't bleed after death. You should let them hang around 10-15min after death for the best flavor we've found. We get about another cup to cup and a half of blood out of a large bird in that next ten min. If you are doing multiple birds this is about as long as it takes to finish plucking one and then start on the next.
 

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