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Uh, oh. Thanksgiving Turkey Questions

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by ChickenPotPie, Oct 25, 2010.

  1. ChickenPotPie

    ChickenPotPie Songster

    Jan 23, 2009
    I'm raising some turkeys now and will have our first bird for eating on Thanksgiving. I also have an extra tom that I offered up for purchase for a holiday dinner. It's only been about an hour since I've advertised it (10pm) and I've already had 3 inquiries - all asking if I can process the bird for them. [​IMG] From what understand, I can't sell processed meat for human consumption in the state of CA without a license and it would have to be processed at USDA inspected facility, anyway. So, I figured I'd sell it live without a problem.

    If people want to buy live animals as meat but don't know how to process it, what can be done? Do I say "not my problem" or can I process it for "free" or what? Ack. What do I tell these people?!

    I've processed rabbit, chicken, and quail but never turkey. This Thanksgiving will be my first time ever preparing turkey starting with a live animal. How do I do it? My neighbor says that with turkeys, you just can't chop off their heads or cut their carotid artery. She says you have to pith them or they'll turn out tough. Is that true? I've never pithed before. I don't know how or if I can even do it.

    Help?! [​IMG]

    P.S. I've also been asked how much the turkey will weigh dressed. How do I estimate dressed weight for turkey? Is it 1/3 their live weight? How many days before Thanksgiving should I process it? Then what? Soak in salt water in the fridge? For how long?
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2010

  2. DianeS

    DianeS Songster

    Feb 28, 2010
    In most areas, the prohibition against butchering the meat that you sell is actually a prohibition against doing so FOR PROFIT. So you can almost always legally sell the live bird (for a nicely inflated cost) and then do the butchering for "free" as "a favor".

    As to whether you "should" or not, I'd sleep on it. If you're advertising on Craigslist there's no rule says you have to take the first offer. Check your responses for a day or so and see if you get one offering to buy the live bird. That would solve all your issues.

    (Someone else will have to weigh in on pithing and estimated weight. I've only done chickens.)
  3. KatyTheChickenLady

    KatyTheChickenLady Bird of A Different Feather

    Dec 20, 2008
    Boise, Idaho
    just advertise live bird in caps, someone will come along [​IMG]
  4. Depending on what state you live in (the laws vary quite a bit state to state). Here in N.C. I can process a bird and sell it, will I..... never. In my opinion you are setting yourself up for any lawsuit your buyer may bring against you.

    For example you sell a processed bird, perfectly healthy. buyer puts it in the trunk of their car, leaves it on the counter, doesn't know how to cook it and on and on. Somebody goes to the hospital with food posioning and you end up in court.

    You - "I sold them a perfectly good bird" the court - "prove it"
    You - "we ate one of our birds as well" the court - "prove it"

    See where i'm going? You have to prove that you are clean and there is no way you can do that at home. I worked in a meat packing plant before and meat samples, swabs etc were taken from the line to ensure a good product AND to cover the packer. It would be very hard to cover yourself like that from a home operation.

    We sell turkeys on the "hoof" only for that reason.

  5. Ibicella

    Ibicella Songster

    Nov 13, 2009
    Everett, WA
    I agree with the above comments. You CAN process without charging to get around the law, but Steve has a point about liability.

    What the lady told you was a myth. You can chop the head or cut the carotids on a turkey and it won't affect the meat.
  6. Buster52

    Buster52 Songster

    Jan 28, 2009
    Geronimo Oklahoma
    Not to disagree with my turkey hero Steve, but I tend not to worry about liability, and neither do many of the folks here who process and sell their birds. I would still do it even if I did worry, as I think it is just that important. I'm of the belief that my system of raising and processing is much safer for the public than the average factory farm system. I am positive it is more humane and sustainable.

    Here are the regs in CA...


    The Law. California law specifically exempts from inspection “all poultry meat which is derived from poultry which is slaughtered, dressed, and sold on the premises where it is produced for purposes other than resale, if the entire poultry meat output of the producer of such poultry is so sold.”3 Therefore, those producers whose entire poultry business consists of slaughtering, dressing and selling poultry products on their farm are exempt from inspection requirements so long as they sell to individuals who are not going to resell the poultry product.

    The California law is among the few laws to have been challenged on constitutional grounds but the challenge was unsuccessful. The law creating the exemption for on farm processing is still in place.


    Agency Contact.

    California Department of Food and Agriculture
    1220 N. Street, Suite 409
    Sacramento, CA 95814
    916-654-0403 (fax)

    Department of Agriculture
    1220 N Street
    Room A-125
    Sacramento, CA 94814
    916-654-2608 (fax)
    1 CAL.

    Source: http://www.apppa.org/legalstates.pdf
  7. Buster52

    Buster52 Songster

    Jan 28, 2009
    Geronimo Oklahoma

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