Processing My First Turkey of the Season

Butchering Broad Breasted Turkeys

This spring I ordered 10 Broad Breasted White turkeys from Dale (The Chicken Guy) in Wisconsin. Actually, I think I ordered 6, but Dale always orders extra and somehow a few of them end up in my basket. I picked them up on March 13th.

Happy Easter 5s

They were cute little fluff balls when I first got them! But they grew fast. 🙂

Not so cute anymore...and talk about eating machines!

Not so cute anymore…and talk about eating machines!

I’ve been picking them up and feeling their breasts to see if they are ripe and ready to harvest. 😉

With all of the high protein feed and pasture they’ve had available, they are already big enough to start butchering.

turkey

Turkey in the pasture.

It’s not a job I enjoy, and I have a tendency to put it off and only do one turkey at a time. Even though they poop a LOT and are getting kind of ornery, I still hate to do the deed. But, alas, it must be done.

Decapitation station.

Decapitation Station. Make sure you have a gut bucket ready. (Hubby thinks this photo is too graphic, but I think you can all handle it.)

I started last Saturday. I killed and processed one of the largest toms in the flock. I’m guessing he weighed around 16 pounds, but I couldn’t locate the scale. I can say this though, that bird was hanging out of the sides of my roasting pan. 🙂

Slime under the skin.

Slime under the skin.

The turkey carcass wasn’t the best looking and had a yellowish slime under the breast skin. I removed the skin and slime and decided to cut the bird up and freeze it in parts. We had one of the boneless, skinless breasts for dinner for 3 nights. The other breast and both legs went into the freezer. The rest of the carcass went into my stock pot on the stove top. The meat was removed and I pressure canned it with the broth. We have 7 quarts of turkey soup base for the winter set aside now. I will propably do more of the turkeys this way, since I don’t need 10 turkeys for roasting over the next year.

Too big for the scalding pot.

Too big for the scalding pot.

On Thursday I processed another tom. This one weighed in at 18 pounds. (I found the scale…right where I was looking for it.) He went in the freezer as a whole bird, destined for our Thanksgiving table.

It is becoming apparent to me that I need to make a few changes to my butchering techniques.

  • First, I’ve always chopped their heads off with a hatchet so that they don’t suffer. But the last one scratched my arm up pretty good as it was kicking in its death throes. I think maybe I need to look into construction a killing cone and maybe try the braining method ( driving a sharp instrument into the brain through the mouth).
  • Second, I need a bigger scalding pot. The last tom didn’t fit in the pot and I had to turn it over to scald the other end…not easy.
  • Third, instead of ordering the birds in the early spring, I need to order them to arrive in June. Butchering in June and July is pretty rediculous. I had to shoo away flies and rush to get the birds chilled. Lesson learned (maybe, my skull can be pretty thick).

Do you raise your own turkeys? Do you process them yourself, or send to the processer? Have you ever cut your bird up into parts or pressure canned them? I like to hear about your experiences, so please feel free to share!

I shared this post on Our Simple Homestead Blog Hop 🙂

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