Saturday, October 29, 2011

Turkeys Versus Chickens

Graphic images will follow.

I love my turkeys.  They have been thoroughly entertaining all summer long. 
#3 & #4 moving the turkeys from the brooder to the turkey pen.
It was frustrating (and expensive) sharing them with the wild life.

The rest have grown up big and strong and healthy.  They've worked through the fall, clearing and fertilizing the garden.  It's a little sad that there are only 6 left now.  But they taste divine!

The butchering continues, with the hens averaging 16-17 pounds, and the toms all at just over 19 pounds.

Dad came over and showed me a couple of new tricks.  How to remove the neck- just slice around the meat and then twist until the bone snaps, and how to shrink the legs.  To make the bird more compact, with the bird on it's back, lift the legs toward the chest, until they're stuck out straight, and then push down.  You can hear something pop.  Then push the legs back down against the body.  They stay there.  It takes a lot less room in the freezer and in the roasting pot!

I solved the storage problem with clear recycling bags.  They're a little bigger than necessary, and the plastic is thin, so I'm doubling them.  Be careful though- some of them come 'scented'.  Ewww.  

I butchered the first rooster the other day.  They are not ready yet.  Only 4.3 pounds.  Isn't he tiny, by comparison?  So I have about a dozen little roosters who may be granted a reprieve until spring.  I'm hoping they'll gain enough in the next few weeks to make it worthwhile to butcher them this year, but it's unlikely they'll double their weight before it's time to lock them up for winter.  The coop isn't really big enough for all of them to get along peacefully.  I may have to proceed to keep them from killing each other.

We lost another turkey to the wild life last week.  I think, under the circumstances, that we're going to butcher all of them this year, rather than keeping three to breed.  It would be a total piss off if they made it through the winter, just to have the wild life snatch them in the spring before they hatch any eggs.  Which takes us a step back in the sustainability efforts.  I bought turkeys who could breed naturally, so I could stop buying turkeys.  I'm going to have to net the top of the turkey pen before I try it though.


  1. If a person thinks a dead turkey is graphic, they should not be reading randomly on the Good job. I wish I had that many turkeys in my freezer. But, I would not use those plastic bags. I think they will lead to freezer burn and are toxic.

    I have seen the commercial freezer bags on the internet that will hold turkeys. It would probably take you years to use the quantity they sell. But, if the family did not get into them for other uses, it seems like a good use of your resources.

    Wouldn't it be cheaper to kill those small roosters than to feed them all winter?

    Losing one of my four layers made me sad. She was my trick hen.

  2. When I started this blog, I just posted whatever I felt like, and, well, if you didn't want to look at it, why were you here? I wasn't looking for followers, I wasn't advertising, I just felt like writing. No one has ever commented negatively about any of my pics, but still, I guess it's fair to warn people.

    My birds, before dad showed me the new tricks, were over two feet long. The commercial bags weren't big enough. They might fit now, but I already have the recycling bags. I'm double bagging, which should help prevent freezer burn. As for toxicity, you could be right. Plastic sucks. But we live in a world where they line tin cans with BPA releasing plastic to preserve our food. I don't figure the bags can do as much harm as that. I should really find a source for those big rolls of butcher paper and cut out the plastic completely.

    Yes and no. The little roosters are just over 5 months old. Another two months would probably bring them up to 6-7 pounds. They're not white rocks, so they need a little longer to grow up. If I butchered them in December, the cost of keeping them versus butchering now would be well worth it. But I know myself, and I probably won't feel much like butchering them once the weather gets cold. So they'll probably hang around til spring. Which will make them cost a bit more. On the other hand, the time and work required to put them in the freezer, while technically 'free', is still valuable. Is it worth my time to do all that work for such small birds that won't even feed my family? Is it worth the freezer space, the hydro, the packaging? I honestly can't say, which would be cheaper, but I think as long as I have other things to keep me busy, I'll let them keep growing. Then I'll butcher another one and see where we're at.

    I know what you mean. I had 'pet' chickens as a child. Two hens and a rooster, who were just different from the rest of the flock. I'm sorry for your loss.

  3. hi. did you end up butchering all those rooster? by the way how do you slaughter a rooster? there seems to be so many opinions. thanks