Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Turkey Butchering

We finally got around to butchering our Broad Breasted White turkeys a couple weeks ago. We had intended on doing so earlier in the season, but it was just one of those things that kept getting put off. I had no idea that they were going to weigh as much as they did. The smallest Turkey was an eighteen pound hen. There were two twenty-five pound toms and one thirty-one pound tom. We raised Heritage Bourbon Reds a couple years ago and they had looked similar in size, but the largest turkey we had then was eighteen pounds.

We gave one twenty-five pound Turkey to our friends who raised the pig for us. We smoked and grilled the eighteen pound bird while it was still fresh - after brining of course. I cut one up into pieces, freezing the breasts separately. I ground up the thighs and the drumsticks - the later being a pain because of all the large tendons. We froze the largest Turkey for Thanksgiving, although maybe I should have ground that one up as I'm not sure it will fit in the oven and I am concerned about trying to get the whole thing cooked evenly. There has been talk of a fire pit/ spit rigged up especially for this bird. We saved the hearts, necks and feet to add to the carcasses for stock.

 I enjoy having the Turkeys around. I enjoy their sounds, and watching them strut their stuff. They seem smarter, hardier and better foragers than the Cornish Cross. I'm thinking I'd like to raise more turkeys next year.

Because of how cold it was we did the plucking and gut removal indoors. We've learned from experience that it is challenging to pluck birds fast enough before they cool down too much when the temperatures are in the teens and twenties. D killed the turkeys up the hill, moved them down the snowy trail in a wheel barrow, dunked them in hot water using a metal trash can over a propane heater. Then brought them and we plucked them in a large cooler, before I laid them out for the final touches. After rinsing the dressed carcasses, we piled them in a clean metal trash can in icewater and left them outside over night. Then I brought them in and dried them off, weighed and wrapped them.

I just pulled in the first couple packages of ground turkey from the freezer. Looking forward to turkey avacado burgers tomorrow.


Rosy Apple said...

I like that last photot, haha! You are doing a good job.

Charity said...

I'm interested in how you raise the turkeys when they are young poults. Do you use medicated feed.? Ever have trouble with coccidiosis? Keep them with chickens, etc? Sorry .....I'm trying to raise a few poults and its been difficult so far!

Emily said...

Charity, I've only raised turkeys for three seasons now. I did lose two right off the bat last year and didn't bother to replace them. I think that turkey poults do tend to be more fragile their first week than chicks. I have never used medicated feed. I have used regular or organic chick starter. I have also made my own by grinding whole grains and adding fish meal and kelp. I usually add some of my herbal dewormer that I have for my goats - into my chick feed. I also put whole cloves of garlic along with some purchased electrolytes/ vitamins for chickens) into their water. The first couple years I raised the turkeys on their own as I was afraid they'd pick on the chicks, but last year I put them in with my cornish and they did just fine. Keep trying! Up here they are so expensive, eight dollars for standard breeds and 16-18 for heritage. It's no fun to lose them for sure, best wishes, Emily

Charity said...

Thank you so much! I'm not using medicated feed, just my own mix of ground barley, corn, and split peas, and kelp and fish meal. And I have been putting vitamins and apple cider vinegar in their water. But then I lost one poultry and have another not looking too good and I was really worried I had made a mistake in not using the medicated stuff. I also have them in with a half dozen pullets because I only have one brooder.
The poult that is sick I have been feeding with an eyedropper a mix of watered down egg yolk, cayenne, yogurt, garlic, and a little molasses. He wasn't eating or drinking at all yesterday but has been making his way to the feed and water on his own today, though he's still weak so I'm
feeding him with the eyedropper too.
I started them all on chopped raw Caribou liver mixed with cayenne and garlic since I'm worried it might be something infectious. The healthy birds love it. I suppose if even just the two healthy poults make it that will be better than nothing.
I just wanted to say how much I enjoy reading your blog. Our lifestyles are quite similar and I love seeing all about your chickens and garden, etc. I don't have goats (yet) but if I can persuade my husband to go along with it, I want to look into getting Nigerian Dwarfs. Its so hard (read impossible) to find real milk where we live!
Thanks again and take care!