How to Butcher a Turkey
Raising turkeys can be a fun and rewarding experience. Mature turkeys are typically a bit hardier than chickens. If you already have chickens think about adding a few turkeys to the brood. Turkeys and chickens tend to get along well especially if they are raised together from chicks. Turkeys are bigger than chickens so they produce more meat per bird.
Processing or butchering a turkey at home is pretty simple. You'll need a killing cone and a sharp knife. Place the turkey upside down in the cone, this will help calm the bird and allow the blood to drain efficiently. Plucking the feather by hand isn't too hard as long as the bird is soaked in hot water first. A mechanical plucker will make the job easier if you are doing multiple birds at once.
Processing a Turkey
- Don't feed the turkey for at least 12 hours before processing. This will limit the food and waste inside of the bird.
- Remove the birds one at a time. Hold the bird with your fingers laced between the feet. Allow the turkey to rest on your forearm. Be sure to hold the wings tightly towards the body. Keep the turkey as calm as possible, adrenaline and other hormones will taint the meat.
- Bring the turkey to the killing cone. The cone will sedate and calm the bird. Pull the head through the bottom of the cone. Be sure to hold the feet to avoid getting kicked or scratched in the eye.
- Use a sharp knife to cut the neck on both sides. Allow the turkey to bleed out.
- Next, scold the turkey for about 3 minutes at 145*F. Stir so the entire bird is covered. When the skin peels off easily it is ready.
- Puck the feathers off of the turkey with a mechanical pucker or by hand.
- Cut the legs off. Bend the leg and cut through the joint, don't cut through the bone this will dull the knife.
- Remove the head with scissors.
- Slowly cut the skin around the neck and peel it off.
- Cut the neck off with scissors, save it the stock pot.
- Pull out the crop.
- Slowly and gently cut along the pelvis bone. Slice, never poke. Puncturing the guts could taint the meat.
- Reach into the chest cavity and pull out the insides including the windpipe. Break the membranes as you go.
- Hang the guts into the sink. Remove the heart and liver, careful not to puncture the bile sack as this will taint the meat. If you do puncture the sack make sure to rinse off the meat quickly.
- Cut down along the pelvic bone on both sides. Gently cut across the pelvis to cleanly remove the intestines.
- Rinse the turkey inside and out.
- Place the turkey in a large plastic bag. You can use a bucket of water to displace the air from the bag. Zip tie the bag shut. Freeze or use within a few days otherwise, the bird may be tough.