Steps to process turkeys?


In the Brooder
Feb 5, 2020
just wondering what steps I need to take to process my turkey?

We just put him up this morning and we are processing in the morning.
After I let it bleed out, do you have to ice it and put in freezer for a day?

What are the best ways to defeather also?


Crossing the Road
6 Years
Apr 9, 2016
California's Redwood Coast
Good morning and congrats on your first turkey processing! :frow

After I bleed a bird out.. (I prefer using a cone, but have hung from ankles if needed) I scald at 150-160 degrees... dunking and motor boating them around inside the hot water in order to get the water down to the skin.. Usually after dunking and motor boating a few short times.. I check for feather looseness by tugging at at the longest wing tip feathers.. if they easily release then all the others should as well. I run under cold hose water to cool the feathers off for easy handling. I hang them to pluck. After plucking.. then I remove the head and the feet followed by the guts. Once all cleaned up.. a final cold rinse and then into the fridge (if there's room and not too many birds to brind the fridge temp up) or an ice bath for several days... depending partly on age of the bird.. the older it is the longer it needs to sit for rigor to pass.

Some folks add salt into their ice bath which will brine the meat at the same time it rests.

Cooking method varies drastically whether you are using heritage or commercial birds as commercial birds will always be much softer (tender to some) since they are essentially babies. The heritage birds will be more toothsome.. a little more chewy with stronger connective tissue and do best with a slow a low cooking method.

When I first started my adventure we skinned our birds instead of plucking due to all the plucking horror stories I had read. A very small dash of dish soap in my scald water.. a thermometer to get the scald temp correct so it releases the feathers but doesn't cook the bird.. it was NOWHERE near as bad as had feared and now consider plucking to be the preferred method of removing feathers over skinning.. even if I end up feeding the skin out to the dogs. We also like to use our meat ground for tacos, etc.

Please note that I am usually processing chickens.. but the method is the same even though the size is different. My local friend who raises their broad breasted turkeys to an excess of 70# before processing... she uses chloroform to knock them out first and a pulley system to hang them for dispatch.

One thing I will mention if this is your first dispatch ever... neck skin doesn't cut as easily as it looks in the movies... Plunge your knife deep with intent your aim is to kill the bird not to injure it. It takes practice and my first time wasn't perfect.. I was nervous about cutting myself or hurting the bird. Confidence will come along with honing of this very valuable skill!

Hope this helps some and that you are enjoying BYC! :fl


Premium Feather Member
13 Years
Jul 10, 2009
North Carolina Sandhills
My Coop
My Coop
it was NOWHERE near as bad as had feared and now consider plucking to be the preferred method of removing feathers over skinning..

I had the same experience when I processed my retired laying hens. No one likes the smell of wet feathers, but the plucking was remarkably easy and nothing like the scare stories.

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