Last week, I told you the steps for raising turkeys. Today, I want to show you exactly how to butcher turkeys for meat. It is advisable to butcher turkeys between 12 and 14 weeks of age.
*Please note, there will be pictures of dead turkeys below. So if you are squeamish or anti-killing farm animals, then this post is NOT for you. Be warned!*
How to Butcher Turkeys for Meat
Step 1: Remove Food and Confine
24 hours prior to butchering, remove the food from the turkeys. This step is not crucial, but it does help in the butchering process. It keeps things tidier because the turkeys will not have food in their crop- the sac where the food goes first in the digesting process.
The morning of the butcher, try to get all the turkeys into the pen (if they free range). This way you will not be chasing turkeys through the yard or pen.
Step 2: Kill
I know, I know. It can be so hard to kill an animal. But remember, these are NOT pets. They are FOOD.
We took an old garbage can, cut a 4 inch hole in the bottom, then nailed it to a tree. One at a time, we took a turkey from the coop, put it upside down through the garbage can, and cut their throats so they’d bleed out. Be warned: it can be messy if the turkeys kick. Some of them flopped of the garbage can and down on the ground. They die very quickly this way, which is obviously the most humane way.
Step 3: Scald
Have a VERY large pot of water (or steel garbage can like we used) boiling over a fire (or over a propane base for a turkey deep-fryer like we did). Once the turkeys have bled out, hold them by their feet and carefully dip them into the boiling water for 3-4 minutes. This loosens their feathers for plucking.
Step 4: Pluck Feathers
After scalding for 3-4 minutes, the feather should easily come out. Pluck them off by hand.
Step 5: Gut and Butcher
Once the feathers are off, you need to remove the head, feet, and guts (by cutting into the anus- not too deep though- and slicing upwards). Discard everything you will not eat.
Step 6: Refrigerate, Package, & Freeze
You need to let the carcass cool after killing, plucking, and gutting. We refrigerated ours for 24 hours before packaging in enormous plastic bags, which we vacuum-sealed shut, then we deep freeze until a few days before it’s time to cook!
Honestly, this process did not take that long: about 3 hours to process 3 turkeys, and it was not as gruesome as you may think.
We ended up raising TWO 33 pounders and one 15 pounder!!!! How cool is that?!
We will definitely be raising turkeys again next year!
How do you feel about raising and butchering turkeys? Tell me in the comments below!
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Happy Homesteading! (:
P.S. have any thoughts or questions? Tell me all the things in the comments! Also, you can contact us if you’d love to collab!