The main reason why we raise turkeys is for their eggs and meat while some keep them as pets. However, most people raise them for their meat because these birds take long to lay eggs. Have you ever seen someone butchering turkeys?
Turkey meat is a good source protein and a host of other nutrients. When prepared in the right way, it is very delicious and will leave you salivating for more.
I prefer grilling turkey chunks in the oven. They are tender and mouthwatering. Do you want to know more about butchering turkeys for meat? Keep scrolling!
Reasons for butchering turkeys
There are various reasons why turkeys can be slaughtered. The main reason is meat but there are other aspects too.
Culling is eliminating unwanted birds by killing them. This mainly happens if some of your birds are sick or too old to reproduce.
Some may be culled as a result of gaining the required market weight. Most birds that are culled are good for meat.
Rowdy and aggressive toms can be culled too. This helps prevent any cases of bullying other bronze turkeys or visitors in your home.
Skilled fence jumpers like the small white turkeys and those that prefer to roost on tree branches are not spared either. This is done to tame the rogue behavior of exposing themselves to predators and sneaking into your neighbours compound.
Source of income
Turkey meat is a delicacy to many people in the United States. It is highly prized during the thanksgiving where it is prepared into different cuisines.
To run a successful turkey business capital is required. One of the major ways to generate income in such a venture is by selling some of your meat birds.
To those customers who do not want to carry live birds some farms often do the slaughtering for them. This way, turkeys are butchered and packed ready for further processing.
Killing for meat
This is very common to homesteads where they have these birds. Occasionally, a bird or two are butchered to provide meat for a family.
Sometimes like during the thanksgiving season, millions of turkeys like Broad breasted white are butchered for meat. Most families who have them kill them for meat.
Preparing to butcher
Turkeys meant to be slaughtered should be denied food for one day before they are butchered. The reason why they are denied food, it becomes easy to remove intestines and also ensures that feaces don’t contaminate the carcass. Deny food but give water.
Make sure before you start, everything is ready and set as this will allow a smooth process. Heat enough water in a fryer considering the number of birds you intend to butcher.
If you plan to butcher many birds, it is good you get someone to help you.
Prepare a working bench and make sure you have enough knives, a machete, two buckets or large basins, shrink bags and plenty of clean cold water.
Grab the turkey and tie the legs. It is not easy as turkeys are strong birds and can tear your skin with their claws.
Insert the head in a killing cone mounted on the wall with the narrow end facing down. If you do not have one, no need to worry as there are other alternatives.
An old feed bag can work pretty well. All you need to do is make a small hole enough for the birds head to go through and it will work just like a cone.
The reason we use cones is to secure the turkey firm as they will kick their legs and flap wings when the head is chopped off.
Here you should look for a large turkey sized con and mount it on the wall. The cone will ensure the bird is turned upside down and blood will rush to the head once turned upside down.
Pull the birds head firmly through the narrow opening of your cone and chop it off using your machete. There are some who don’t chop the head like I do but rather cut the veins just below the beak but I consider it painful.
Scalding and plucking
Once the turkey has bled to death, dunk it in hot water of 150 degrees F. This helps to loosen the feathers, scaly feet and claws for easier removal.
Scalding should take about 2 minutes. Trying to pull the wing feathers and see if they come out with ease is the best way to confirm whether your turkey has properly scalded.
If the carcass overstays in hot water the skin can come out while plucking the feathers. Remove the bird from the hot water and place it on a table and pluck the bird clean.
When it comes to plucking, you can choose to use hands or an electrical plucker.
Using hands to pluck can be slow and tiresome. There are some like me who don’t like the smell of wet feathers so I prefer using a Yardbird plucker. It is fast and plucks the bird clean without bruising the skin and breaking the bones.
After plucking you will notice that there are some small hairs that remain on the bird’s skin. It is easy to get rid of them. Light an old newspaper and use the flame to burn the hairs.
Eviscerate and process
After you are done with the plucking, it is good that you rinse the carcass with cold water to make it clean and ready for processing.
Cut the skin below the neck and above the breast bone to reach for the crop and the esophagus.
The knives you are using should be sharp enough to make a clean cut. When removing the crop you should be gentle not to tear it as you may spill the contents inside and contaminate the meat.
Together with the food pipe pull out gentle and cut a connective tissue that leads to the inside.
Now head to the vent region. Remove an oil gland at the tail region as it makes` the meat have a bad taste by cutting it off. Turn the bird on its back and cut along the vent side by side heading to the rib cage to open the inside.
Put your hand inside and pull all the internal organs out gently with care as intestines can easily rapture. Separate the edible internal organs such as the liver, heart and gizzard from the intestines and bile that are discarded away with the feathers.
Clean the meat as the inside has some blood after you remove the internal organs. You can now chill the meat in ice cold water for a day and then wrap it in large turkey shrink bags and freeze it.
Due to the large size of the bird, you may not have a freezer of that size. You can slice it into quarters for easier storage.
Factors to consider when butchering poultry
There are certain factors that we should always put into consideration while slaughtering animals in the farm. Some of these factors are very important and they are. Waste disposal, the way we process, hygiene and sanitation and professionalism.
The procedure of slaughtering chicken, guinea fowl or any other kind of poultry is all the same as that of turkeys. The only difference is the size; hence, the size of the cone and some other tools used becomes different.
Killing your birds in a humane way and one which will cause minimal or no pain is highly recommended. Even though we kill them for food they deserve to die in a decent manner.
Proper hygiene and a good waste management is also an important aspect. A clean butcher working on a clean environment and using clean tools will achieve clean results.
Leaving feathers `and waste organs scattered will only attract flies and all dirt loving creatures. This shows high levels of incompetence.
What do you do when you cut yourself while butchering? Do you continue with a bleeding finger? Or think of someone who is suffering from tuberculosis and is coughing persistently and butchered the meat you are about to consume. I might sound strange but safety first!
Accidents ‘can occur on the event of slaughtering. Get someone else to help in case you cut your finger. Some viruses can be easily transmitted from human blood to animal tissues especially when butchering. Think of others and don’t be the reason why someone is sick or even died.
Some diseases like TB are very dangerous` as they are known to spread through animal products ‘like meat and milk.
Don’t be a butcher if you suffer from these diseases it is possible to wait until fully recovered or else get someone to do the butchering for you.
Have you ever asked yourself what to do with left-over meat or you happened to butcher several birds for your guests and they failed to come? It is easy. You have friends ‘and neighbors who you can share with.
Giving is `receiving feel free to share especially if with the needy and the less fortunate around you. Some people have never eaten turkey maybe the first time they will do it, it is from you.
Keeping turkeys for meat can be a profitable venture. It can be a good source of protein too. Rising these birds is fan and easy.
Butchering turkeys is a skill that can be hard and easy depending on your take. Some butcher turkeys and other poultry as a source of income.