We suck at processing

Discussion in 'Turkeys' started by phoenixrises, Nov 24, 2013.

  1. phoenixrises

    phoenixrises Out Of The Brooder

    May 20, 2013
    OMG, we have done some amazing things since moving to the country, and most of it has been made possible by watching it done on YouTube. Processing is not one of those things. The first turkey (our largest) we manged to tie up and slit his throat but though we thought we had a good cut and arterial flow it seemed to take far too long and he struggled more than I expected. That bothered me because while I know it can't be entirely pain free I wanted it to be as easy on him as we could. The second we made sure to do it deep and correctly and he died much quicker and with minimum flapping about. Both were far too big for any type of kill cone so we just used rope and a tree and tied them by their feet.

    WE had a hell of a time with getting the water warm enough for dunking and I think the fact that we didn't is what caused all the rest of our problems. We used a metal trash can over a fire but the trash can had a leak and made it difficult to get the fire going, add the very cold for GA temps and it was pretty miserable. We finally gave up on plucking when we couldn't even pull out the wing feathers with pliers and just skinned them both. We cut up the large one for separate meals and

    The largest's dressed weight was 31lbs and the "small" one came in at 25. All told it took us over 5 hours to do everything to those two which seems extremely inefficient!

    IF we decide to do it again, we will rent processing equipment AND find someone who can show us what to do with the processing. Though we got there in the end it took forever, we froze and I feel like we let the turkey down.
  2. sourland

    sourland Broody Magician Premium Member

    May 3, 2009
    New Jersey
    It does get easier - hot water for scalding is ABSOLUTELY necessary.
  3. Lelilamom

    Lelilamom Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 28, 2013
    We used a metal trash can too. We had a fire going for several hours before we processed our first bird and the trash can was filled nearly to the top and boiling when we started. It was 16 degrees here when we started (we did ours today too).

    About the "deed". We NEVER slit the throat. We find it horrible. We cut a hole in a feed bag, slip it over the bird's neck and over their entire body and tie it so their wings can't flap. We tie them up by their legs, hold their heads (covering their eyes) and using an extremely sharp knife we take off the head in one movement. It is instant, fast and the bird bleeds out completely. We believe it is much more humane than the cone / slit method.

    We have done meat chickens for a few years so we have the processing down. It took us an hour for each of our three turkeys today.

    Our largest dressed out at 44 lbs. We are now at a loss how to cook it.

    I hope your next experience is better.
  4. Arielle

    Arielle Chicken Obsessed

    Feb 19, 2011
    Massachusetts, USA
    Use what you learned to make the next time better. I have gotten much faster, but handling a big bird is cumbersome and takes extra time. My first time was 10hrs for 6 geese-- lol and they were already beheaded. It does get easier.
    1 person likes this.
  5. junkprospector

    junkprospector Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 28, 2008
    Boise, ID
    I was going to process ours - but i found a place that was about a 45 minute drive to process the turkey. Price was $11 when all was said and done - killed, bled, plucked and all dressed out and ready for dinner! it was AWESOME! i was on the fence about next year, but having such an easy way to have the birds processed totally makes a difference.
  6. hdmax

    hdmax Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 29, 2013
    Central Ohio
    45 minute drive? Was that each way, and if so, did you have to make two trips? If so, you ended up with at least 3+ hours in drive time, and what? 12+ dollars in fuel?
    How many turkeys? This may be worth it if you were getting several turkeys done at once, but if it were just one, that would defeat the purpose of raising ones own. (Just my opinion!)
  7. popsicle

    popsicle Chillin' With My Peeps

    I'm fine processing my own birds, but I would happily drive my birds 45 minutes to a processing facility and I wouldn't think of it as defeating the purpose of raising my own. There is a very good chance that the birds at the supermarket were transported far more than 45 minutes from their barns to the processing facility.

    For me, the nearest stoplight is 40 minutes away--the nearest hospital is even further. 45 miles is not far in Montana and Idaho. I'm originally from near the Twin Cities, lots of people there commute 45 minutes each way every work day.
  8. hdmax

    hdmax Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 29, 2013
    Central Ohio
    I know the transporting wouldn't be a problem, I was just curious as to the reasoning of 3 hours of traveling instead of using that time for processing? And the cost per bird plus the fuel used. It's not my money or time, I was just wondering what the reasoning was in doing it that way.

    I used to have beef and hogs processed until I received back the worst smelling and tasting meat I had ever had. So I no longer trust my animals processing to anyone. The slaughter house claimed it was my beef, and they did nothing wrong. I ended up loosing well over $1,000 in buying, raising, and processing the steer. The meat smelled spoiled, and stunk up the entire house. I had heard of others with similar horror stories from that and other local slaughter houses. I now do all my own, not only do I know exactly what I am getting, I save about $1-$1.25 per lb.
    I may be new at raising and butchering birds, but I have been raising my own food for many, many years.
  9. popsicle

    popsicle Chillin' With My Peeps

    And that's exactly why I processed my own deer. Though I've had no problem taking my goats to the processor in the past, and would do again in the future--to a facility I trusted (and not during hunting season).

    Also, at least for me, if I were driving to town to drop off critters at the processor, I'd also do some shopping, maybe hit up a coffee shop, etc. So I wouldn't likely consider the time wasted nor even factor the fuel price into the cost of the processing--since I need to drive to town if I want groceries anyhow. I don't know about junkprospector, I'm just speaking about where I live. Right now there is not a processing place for poultry in the state of Montana, though I do think one is opening soon. I will continue to process my own single turkey, random cockerel and old hen, but if the processing place opens I'd very likely raise 25 birds and take them in.

    ETA: OP, my first turkey was a learning experience, it got much better. Youtube is great (that's where we learned to grout tile and hang drywall, AND process birds), but it doesn't replace experience for confidence building.
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2013

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