Heritage Turkey Processing

We raise “Heritage” turkeys.  These are not the industrial type of birds bred only for quick fattening.  We have two types – a Spanish Black/Rio Grande cross and Royal Palm.  Here’s a good article on the differences between standard “supermarket” turkeys and heritage breeds.

This year our turkeys hatched May 3.  They should be just the right size for Thanksgiving next month.  To check progress, we butchered one last week along with a couple meat chickens.  We smoked and roasted the turkey for a taste check.  It was wonderful – honestly the best turkey I have ever eaten.  Here’s a look at several steps in the process:


24 week old tom (male). He’s a Spanish Black/Rio Grande cross.


upside down position sedates the bird, the major artery in the neck is cut to quickly kill the bird and let the blood drain.



Scalding water loosens the feathers. Ready to pluck.


Plucked and ready for gutting and final processing. Will spare you those photos.


Cooling in ice water before chilling in refrigerator or wrapping for the freezer. Turkey in the middle, with chickens on the side.

This turkey weighed just over 11 pounds after cleaning.  The others will gain another pound or two before processing in November for an average size of 12-13 pounds.  The turkey was wrapped and chilled in the refrigerator for a day before we started the preparation process.  Here are the details on our preparation – smoking, roasting.


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