Turkey Processing?

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by doubleatraining, Nov 11, 2011.

  1. doubleatraining

    doubleatraining Chillin' With My Peeps

    1,163
    15
    141
    Jul 25, 2011
    Franklinton, NC
    I think I'm going to buy a 8 month old Bourbon Red tom turkey to process and cook. I'm not too fond of the typical thanksgiving turkey and I'm hoping I will like the heritage breeds better.

    I'm comfortably processing chickens. Do I do the same thing with the turkey? Hang them upside down and slit the throat?

    Any tips for processing or cooking will be GREATLY appreciated.
     
  2. erinszoo

    erinszoo Chillin' With My Peeps

    1,923
    84
    178
    Jun 28, 2011
    North Central Oklahoma
    Turkeys are a lot stronger than chickens and it usually takes two people to do the deed at least. They will flop around just like a chicken does, so imagine the movement and mess from something that much bigger. Some people use burlap sacks and cut a hole for the neck to stick through but I think they would just rip the sack anyway. [​IMG] You can use a broom stick to hold their neck/head down and then chop it with an axe ... or others use a .22 through the head. A killing cone would probably be the best way to go if you don't have help. My grandfather used to put them under an old wooden chair that had slats around the legs, then he would pull their head through and chop it and sit on the chair until the bird quit flopping around using his body weight and the chair legs to confine it ... then he would hang it.

    After it's plucked, chill it in ice water with some salt added until it's well chilled (if you don't do that with your chickens already). Put it in a hot oven 450 for the first 15 minutes, then turn it down for the rest of the cooking time to 325.
     
  3. EggsForIHOP

    EggsForIHOP Chillin' With My Peeps

    488
    2
    121
    Apr 18, 2010
    TEXAS
    I process turkeys all by myself most times - this last batch average 23 pounds DRESSED. We have a VERY sturdy hanger meant for 100 feet of garden hose - VERY STURDY...I just tie their legs, hang 'em, slit the throat to bleed out, and stay out of the way until they are still. The best part about a turkey is it's SUPER easy to reach in and clean out the insides...worst part...finding a pot big enough to scald them in!
     
  4. 2pinkmom

    2pinkmom Chillin' With My Peeps

    110
    0
    109
    Mar 31, 2010
    Can I hijack this thread to ask HOW you grab them? I attempted to wrestle one of our 5 BB toms onto a bathroom scale last night to get a live weight. (trying to see if a turkey frier would be big enough to scald them in) I couldn't lift him, and got hit hard in the face by a flapping wing. I've actually helped farmer friends at turkey slaughter, and had no trouble grabbing and lifting their birds. So i'm thinking these boys are in the neighborhood of 40-50 pounds. How do you get it's legs tied? I'm thinking I'm going to have to grab their necks and sit on them. My husband had reluctantly agreed to shoot them with a .22 if absolutely necessary, but he's being squeamish about the whole thing [​IMG]
     
  5. EggsForIHOP

    EggsForIHOP Chillin' With My Peeps

    488
    2
    121
    Apr 18, 2010
    TEXAS
    I reach underneath them, and grab one leg, then the other, from behind the turkey, moving deliberately and calmly but FAST - and carry them upside down where ever I need to go with them. The little girl that raises them for us taught me that [​IMG] Apparently, when they show them, they hold them upside down like that for the judges....I have NO IDEA how you would catch a faster turkey like a heritage breed! But those BBW turkeys are like pets with that girl...and fat and slower than a heritage turkey...My motivation is if a 13 year old can do it, I can do it [​IMG]

    I usually just go in while they are standing to tie up their legs, corner 'em again, and use the left over bailing twine from hay...as long as they aren't bigger than a bag of feed, I'm okay. We got some toms from her one time that were HUGE and it took my husband AND myself to get them processed...but since then nothings has been over 40 lbs dressed either....now they call us as soon as they are done showing, which helps.

    When I weigh them, I either use a hanging scale we have once they are tied up - or if I am just going for a weight I do the "showmans hold" the girl taught me and stand up there with the bird, weigh us together, then deducted me weight alone....I never try to hang on to one like a football...always sneak in for the legs like she taught me...that way they can flap all they want, but can't get me!

    One other thing, I don't know that it's true, but they also taught us not to lay them on their backs - said it stressed them - but if I HAVE to since I am going to process immediately, I will lay an uncooperative one on it's back so it can't flap it's wings at me...then straight to the gallows it goes...I had one feisty mean one this time - the very last one I processed, so I'm sure that turkey hen had it figured out....she had to be caught, flipped belly up, tied and then hung for the kill...I felt bad...but I wasn't getting wacked in the face by a wing....and you could tell she was having a hard time breathing once I got her flipped over on her back, so I moved as quick as I could.

    My husband reserves shooting for anything we CAN'T CATCH - run away roosters, deer....if a roo gets loose and is destined for freezer camp and we CANNOT catch it, he'll sit patiently and wait for a head shot. But he HATES to waste ammo on domestic things - even the meat rabbits, we don't shoot those. He says it's like "hunting at the zoo and is just a waste"...I kinda see his point....
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by