The only reason I am adding this post is because I have found posts such as this one invaluable. I thought I might add my extremely novice perspective to the list of available posts on the subject.
I truly belive if our family is going to eat meat then I want us to be as connected to the process as possible, even if it is graphic. I belive it keeps us ethical and conscious.
I raise my birds free range during the spring, summer and Autumn excluding when they are too small to survive freely. In the winter I do keep them in a coop/run. I don’t grow my meat birds the traditional way, quickly. I let the live in the sun on real grass and grow them longer. Yes, it does take more time and a bit more feed, but I feel better about it and my chickens can actually walk by themselves by the time I process them!
One of my plans this year in to build a much bigger run then I have now. I feed some grain during the warm months and kitchen scraps and 16% laying pellets in the winter. Hubby and I want to start mixing our own feed, but haven’t done the research yet.
On to the Processing.
I only had two turkeys to do today so it was quite simple. I laid out a tarp to work on as I planned to skin rather than pluck due to the size of the birds. I laid a large piece of plastic with sawdust on it to catch the blood under the cone.
Dan brought the Turkey down from the coop by the feet. This calms (or completely terrifies the bird) so they don’t move. He placed it head first into the cone.
I held the legs while he slit its throat. That is the worst part for me. We let the blood drain into the sawdust for at least five minutes before I began skinning.
My dad, who is a butcher, suggested I start by facing the turkey towards me breast side down. Then slit from the neck down to the tail.
After this I flipped the turkey over and repeated the cut on the breast side. The skin came of the breast side easily.
I had to use my knife more for the backside, which resulted in a few cuts to the meat. I chose to remove the bottom part of the wing and left only the meaty part. It was pretty difficult to get the skin off the wings. The rest of the skin came off quite easily. I am quite impressed at how quickly it went from start to finish. These were my first Turkeys, and having only processed Chickens once before, I was a bit intimidated.
But if I can do it, anyone can!