Turkey Processing with Franny & Meagan
Hi. This is Frannie coming, to you from Western, Piedmont Community, College and, Morganton. North Carolina. With. One. Of the instructors, for sustainable. AG Megan, Roberts hi Freddie hey and, Megan. Is a good friend a peer teacher. Collectively. Each of us have processed over about, thousand. Birds today. We are going to be processing, turkeys, and it will be both of our first time to process. Industrial. Turkeys, we've been, involved in heritage poultry movement, so. We're going to walk you through each, step of, what you want to do when you get set up for processing. At home so. Megan talk to us first step, so first step yes is a kill so these are kill cones all, of the equipment you'll see here today is from Featherman equipment, company it's great it's a turnkey line it's all food grade and, so farmers don't have any guesswork when it comes to what can come in contact with the animals we, have two turkey, sized kill cones here we have our catch basin, and then, the rotating, stands, we, always, apply canola, oil to our catch basin, anywhere blood is going to contact, a metal for easy cleanup, if you don't do it cleanup takes a, extravagantly. Long time and it's a super easy fix I can cost about a dollar fifty we, have a dedicated kill, knife and a dedicated sharpener, here that stay with this station so that they can sharpen. That as needed, the. Birds lose consciousness, in about three seconds, I'm all. Told they spend less than a minute at, this station before moving on to the skull tank which is the next step yeah, and here we go to the. Salt tank and, we've. Got this, protective. Cover on it right now to help it heat up that's, what we're waiting on right now it's gonna take a good couple of hours to, get this to temperature, which is going to be around 150. What. Else do you want so well especially on morning's like this it's about 26, degrees here today in Morganton, and this tank it's 940, now and has been lit since 7:00 and is still not up to temperature, and so every bit of 3 hours on sub 30-degree mornings you, have to account for that time if you're scald is not on you. Birds will not plug and it really affects the final quality of the product yep. Absolutely you'll be picking pin feathers but, then if you get your scholar too hot once, it goes to plucking, it's very, their, skin can rip and. So, it's very important, to get this scholar this is one of the most important, it is for efficiency.
And Process the nice thing about this one is it comes with a thermostat, that you can set using a flathead screwdriver and, so, we have our set just a little bit high today because, the birds are going to be cold we have it set to 150, normally, on a warm day you'd set it to 147. So. The next step from here is our plucker. So. The closer runs off these food great hoses all of your hoses need to be food grade this, is a marine and RV food grade hose from Lowe's Home Improvement you, don't have to reinvent the wheel we. Have water that runs into the pucker it runs, as the birds are tumbling it rinses the feathers out the back and this is just a drum, plucker it's it's very straightforward there, are little rubber fingers, and. Takes. About 30 seconds to clean a turkey and industrial turkey yep we even made our first one these external. Fingers. Are solid, and the bottom, ones can you flip that on rollers which will rotate, it's balancing, the birds around. So. With chickens I'm usually using three if they're like seven pounds. One one because. These are like this counter. Then these little turn on water, and, I have that turned off right now it sprays, and so when you set up this station it's really important, to have the carp tarp covering especially. On cold days because your workers are gonna get drenched, and they're going to be really unhappy we. Also take. The feet and the head off at this point to fit the turkeys into the plucker and so we have a bucket here for that purpose to catch those parts. It's. Moving. On we, have an interim, evisceration. Table here and. Stainless-steel, food, grade when, you have these large birds they sometimes don't get totally, clean in the plucker you need an interim station, before evisceration. To remove the remaining feathers to. Clean up any pigment in the skin if you're dealing with darker, feathered birds like the Bourbon red or the standard bronze or a Narragansett, today. We'll be using the. Industrial, white Birds the broad breasted white and so I'm hoping that this station won't take as long as it does with the pigmented, Birds because with the pigmented Birds it really does add a lot of time to the processing, line yeah, and it's most, important, before we go to the final evisceration. Stage that, there is not a single feather on that bird so. We've got certifications. And approvals, and this is one, of those hot spots for cleanliness and sanitation. Everything. Is absolutely, cleaned before it goes to the final evisceration, tape. Yeah. This is our evisceration, table again at stainless, steel we had this table with the lip custom, design for us it cost about $1,200. Today. We're running just the food grade hoses on the table but it does have set up for, faucets, if you were to install it in a permanent setting, or semi-permanent. Shelter we. Have our food grade buckets, each of these will receive the giblets we've got them filled with ice we, have processing, knives.
About. Halfway full and the ice will melt with the heat of the internal, giblets, of the animal and so you don't end up having to fill the whole bucket with ice or run out of space with. Turkeys, it's really necessary to have a decent, way to remove the neck and so, we, use these choppers. Here they're, a geared, unit. That. Wrenches, down and, then when you're done it releases if you don't have these it's nearly impossible to, get the neck off the bird and what you end up with is adding minutes, per, carcass, trying to get them through the evisceration table, struggling, with the neck removal, and so these are key especially with turkeys, we. Have our rubber handled, food grade knives the, rubber handle is really important, you're with, a texture, your, hands are going to get slippery they're going to get wet and you need to be able to hold on to the blade we. Also have a dedicated, ceramic. Sharpener, for this table we find that the ceramic sharpener, for these knives especially, works a lot better we. Got this at a farm, supply, store it's, not a high-tech sharpener, but the ceramic, two-stage, sharpener, with the coarse and fine. Steel. On there essentially or ceramic on there works a lot better for these knives, and. We got our knives like this like. Buildings. Outdoor, there it's just a hunting knife these. Are feet game field dressing knives a game field dressing kit and so they came together in that kit, super. Important, so that imagine, this is your nice a bleach sanitation. Bleach sanitation, water you can buy bleach test, strips online from restaurant, supply stores we, mix it to sanitation grade that they do for restaurants, we keep. And and. We, use it you know throughout the process anytime, something needs a little bit of cleanup, yeah, so a couple other last-minute, things to point out this is all nicely on a, slope, so that the water and everything will drain. So. You might be able to see that lots of buckets around we. Need that for feet heads, again. Also. The waste of it and then, how do you all dispose of your. Waste so the state requires, that all waste be disposed of either through incineration, or burying we dispose of using, burying, and it, has to be at least 50 yards away from any natural water source and so we've gone way back up here on our back 40 we've dug a big hole with, our Bobcat. And, we. Are going. To bury them and they, are there deep deep there so we has about 6 foot 7 foot sinkhole, and that, prevents, scavengers. It prevents an odor and ultimately will fill the whole thing in we started, processing, last week and so our hole has layers in it at this point and then we'll cap, it when we're done and, that's, exactly what we do as well we dig a hole but we save, almost everything. Except, the, engine. There's. Not a ton of waste from that bird we're saving the feet we, make bone broth kits out of it, the. Heads, end up going to brother wolf rescue, and. Maybes. Everything and so today what. Will end up in the evisceration in, this eration bucket at this table really is only the, entrails, to the intestines, and lungs we, keep the neck the, heart, liver. Gizzard, spleen, and testicles, in the giblet bag we, don't have any requests, today from the farmers to keep feet and so we won't be scalding, feet today but when we we do offer that service to the farmers and when we when they'd like to have the feet back will scald the feet and so the today the feet the heads will get buried and then, any entrails that accumulate, under the table, very. Good, that's. Gonna be a to decide the end of the setup and it's super, important. To make sure you have everything I, think there's one thing that I forgot to mention we've glued on in our. Skull. Tank and. We. Definitely do that it helps with the. Feathers, going out and this detergent it changes the surface tension of the water it allows the water to penetrate the, animal's feathers they, preen themselves with. Oil and so if you don't have that dawn in there the feathers will not scald and they will not cluck and so it is essential, it's about I'd say two. Teaspoons, for the whole hopper you don't want it to be like a washing machine there shouldn't be visible bubbles but, if you if it's not in there you will notice a difference and the quality of the skull and the fuck definitely. So. Anything else I think that oh good, for setup right now I'm from here, and we're. Not going to walk behind but we do have a food-grade shell tank behind us here that comes with, Featherman.
Line From. Here they go to what we call the pink chill it's. Where the water will tinge pink with any remaining blood or fluid in the turkey from the paint chill they'll be bagged and weighed and go into coolers, the, birds do need to sit at refrigerator, temperature, for three to five days before, going into the freezer or will expect the final quality of the meat and I, think a lot of farmers don't realize that they skip that step in an effort to get them frozen quickly, and then the final quality of the bird is really affected the consumers, disappointed, and so especially with your heritage breed birds that have experienced. Things and done things throughout their life their meat tends to be a little more developed, they, need that rest time in the refrigerator, before they go into the freezer and so we really bring them in and. Like I said we've done a thousand, Birds and we always have, a standard, of five days for rest yes and so cross-eyed, about forty degrees, yes in, a. Refrigeration. We, have a big chest freezer, that, we have an adapter, on that can actually bring it below the, frigerator, temperature. But, not freezing and, it's, and those are really inexpensive they run 50 to 80 bucks they plug into the outlet they drop over the side of your refrigerator freezer, normally. You'd find them in cheese-making. Online. Websites, because they're used for cheese aging, in refrigerators, but. Refrigerating. The bird prior to freezing is really really really important, yep, just let it rest let, it rest so, if you're planning to process live for Thanksgiving, where you're offering fresh Birds to the consumer, we normally do Saturday, and Sunday before Thanksgiving it's. A weekend we can get a lot more help that way we encourage our growers to come and assist with the processing, and then, you know you have your Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday in the refrigerator, and they're fresh and ready to go for the holiday ready again. This. Is a white broad-breasted, bonds, first, up is the kill cone but, we'll point out one really, important thing is proper. Handling, of the bird this. Is somewhere around a 2530 pound turkey I'm, holding. It with its wings close, to my side, holding. Its feet so it can't push or kick off of anything and. Anything. You might want to point out a few of these Anatomy. Things on this star shore and so what we're looking for here when we come under the cones we're gonna make two cuts to the turkeys throat one on the left and one on the right and that, will basically allow for bleed out going to the brain and coming from the brain and so the bleed out is relatively, quick the bird will lose consciousness in about three seconds, on. The. Bird we're gonna put I'm sorry Turkey we're gonna put the breast facing, us here toward the outside of the kill cone the, feet will be held up high and then Kevin. West our farm manager here will be performing. The, actual kill and he'll, have full control of the head at that point so the bird can't draw back into the cone and that's another really important thing for the the safety and well-being of the bird during. This process but you can see you know the turkeys calm, there's no flailing, there's no excessive, movement it's quiet and all of those things are really important, during this part of the process to honor an animal and make sure that the death is quick, and respectful. And. I'm gonna hold the feet. It. Really helps to have multiple people operating. This station, and so. Frannie and I work together to get the turkey in the cone that's really important so you can see Kevin made two cuts one to either side, and. That's, really what you want to see you want to see a quick blood flow on morning's, like this where the temperature, is cold it, can sometimes be difficult to get a quick bleed out but you need to do your best, you. Can also alter, the angle of the cut a little bit to, affect the way that the blood will pool on, the animal's neck and to keep the process cleaner, on down the line and so, you can see Kevin's cut he's tilting the head back out of the way. The. Movie that you're seeing now is normal, it's electrical.
It's Not the, animal consciously, moving, if you, have, ever seen a lizard lose its tail and the tail keeps wiggling, it's it's the same kind of thing and so. Holding. The feet is one of the most important parts here because you can really tell when, the animal is going to stop moving and when, it's okay to let go and so being sensitive, to that and paying. Attention to the process is really important, and it also helps, because we talked about some of these slopes, making, sure that this is level otherwise if you get a big, turkey in there that's 30 pounds, and one Stu is jolting. Around it can tip it over just, being and, very. Cognizant. Of everything and. And. Careful. It's. Funny to cut, the head off you, really do. Not want to do that you want the brain to, continue, to work it allows that. Bird to pump the blood through, its system in the bleed out which makes the rest of the process cleaner, and it actually results, in a much more if there is such thing pleasant, death for the bird they lose consciousness they, go to sleep their heart continues to pump their brain continues, to communicate, with their body and, their body doesn't experience the dysregulation, and panic that it would experience with the removal of the head and the severing of the spinal cord, what. Kevin's doing here by continuing, to hold on to the head is allowing, those cut wounds to stay open and allowing the blood to continue to flow it will, clot, if you don't do this and that impedes. The process, quite a bit especially down the line for cleanliness purposes. And so, it's he's, done and so, and you, can tell right now this is the final stage and we'll, see the release here in just a second. Which, this. Is the most humane. Way and, before we started this process, we. Took a moment to collectively, honor the bird and the opportunity, to raise the bird process. The bird that, we use to. Nourish ourselves it really is the ultimate sacrifice. And the ultimate honor you can have in that relationship, with your animals, and your food and, one of the most important things I communicate, to my students, as well is this should be a serious process this should be a respectful, process, and if there's ever a time you're doing it that you don't feel like you can have compassion for the animal you don't need to be doing this and so we talked to the people who are responsible for running the kill cones we, make sure that they're in the state of mind they need to be in to, honor the animal and to honor the death of the animal and if, there's ever a day where you don't feel bad about it you don't do it anymore because you really need to have that compassion at this point in the process. Here. We are at the evisceration table. This bird has arrived here perfectly, clean, we. Hope that was pulled off feed a good, 18, to 24 hours before they arrived that. Is so important, and so many people say they well I just feel so bad as, long as they have access to water full. Free choice water take their food away because. It really, contaminates. The process. From. This point on and you will see if this bird is not good filthy because we will end up with, some poop coming, out of the vent and then we'll have to deal with that before we can move on so. We're gonna start this process here at the top we save the neck as a giblet and so you can see the neck was taken off one vertebrae below the skull or the head was taken off one vertebrae below the skull so the nice long neck here here. Where we are in the United States people really like to add stuffing to the front of the bird and so, to accommodate, that we come up about four inches from the breast we. Cut through the windpipe and. The esophagus, at the front and, then, we go around. The skin at the neck we're leaving this excess, skin on so that when we cut the neck off there's enough skin here at the front to accommodate, that extra stuffing it will retract, and cover. Up the need if you cut that skin back too far then, it pulls all the way up over matter and so there's a lot of blood here right now this on a warm day would not be happening the reason we're seeing so much blood is because of the cold temperature, coagulation.
Slow, Blood flow and so, in, the summertime if we were processing and these were chickens this process would be blood free at this point but, I don't want people to be alarmed, it's just it's a cold temperature thing and, so what we're gonna do is we're gonna come back with our ratchet here, even. Though you're pulling the neck off skin up here when we take the neck off we come down and line with the breast meat and so. We retract it. All. The way back and. There is some fashion, here you just pull through it just. Get. All the way back line, your chopper up. How. Necessary it, is to have one of these things, or. This process. Abrasive. And. So right here you just invert all the skin off the neck this, guy goes in, the gut bucket. From. Here, the crop is located, up here under. The skin of, the neck approximately. Right there you. Can loosen it here, in the front and then when you pull the guts out in the opposite direction the crop, will come through in most cases and, if it doesn't you can come back and you can check if, the crop is empty which this one is you can see that it's just totally squishy it's like an empty balloon leaving. It in is not a total, crisis it's not going to affect the quality of the bird it's more of an aesthetic thing and sometimes, it is difficult but what we're looking at here is the trachea attached to the lungs the, esophagus, attached to, the crop and the gizzard on the, so, we're gonna turn and go in the other direction here. So. What we do here is, we make a single cut and it's, kind of yeah go ahead we'll rinse up here a little bit. Oh I. Do that every single time my students have been sprayed silly fun so, what you do is you just make a couple of very shallow. Sort, of gingerly cuts, just. Until, you're inside the body cavity and you see error if you cut any more than that you're gonna Mick the intestines, and you've. Got a whole new problem on your hands because now you've got fluids. And things moving around inside the bird so, at this point what I like to do is come around the vent in. A, V. Trying. Not to if. At all possible, contact. The intestines, on the opposite side if. Those, of you who hunts, you know about tying off. The. Animal. Before you so see there that's what we're talking about with, cold your bird off feed that's just a little bit of liquid if. This book had had feed that would have been like a full-fledged. Bird. Poop on the table and that would be really bad so what this lets you do it lets you control that unless. You keep it from getting inside the body cavity of the bird you can hold it out of the way, brainy's. Gonna stabilize here anatomy so, far for me say you come up and under follow, the rib cage till your hands at the top you, scoop and you pull everything out onto, the table I know and, there is some fashion, and things in there full tight pretty. You. Want to make sure you're pulling the esophagus, through and the trachea through as well because, those will get left inside the bird occasionally. So there's your trachea there's your esophagus attached, to your gizzard okay, so this is what we end up with when, the birds are not held off feed they tend to defecate during processing, and you, end up having to break down stop, your line and rinse everything off the, table, and. That adds time to your processing, so what I've done here I've separated. Sort. Of the entrails packet, if you will from the bird we're gonna leave those entrails, here, we're gonna finish the turkey so. Inside, the next thing you do is you remove the lungs it's difficult, to see but on the bottom side of the bird on both sides you should be able to see the rib cage when you look inside if you cannot see the rib cage the lungs are still present and so you reach it and you scoop this way down. And under on this side. And. You know like I said make sure you cut your fingernails before doing no hand joinery so. There's one long and then you do the same thing on this side you scoop under the ribs. So. By removing that you can expose. This the entire way and there's the second long and so these are not keepers those go in the trash bucket so, right now I look, into my carcass I can see the ribs on both underside. So it's key click, key to know that you're inside of your bird is clean so, at this point the last thing we need to do before this guy can go in the chill tank is come. Here and cut this little preening, gland all chickens, and turkeys have, a preening, gland on their tail they extract, oil from the gland they use it to keep their feathers clean and shiny it, is not edible and so, we just pinch the gland you kind of scoop under it. And. You, cut it out and so you can see that it's kind of yellow and there's still some left there come. Under it again. And. Just clean, it all out of there you get all that yellow tissue off so, this bird is. A little, letting.
Again, We're. Gonna put him into the pink chill a lot of this is going to soak off and, so when it's time to get him in the bag for. Weight he'll, be very very clean. Now. And. So Franny just asked to be tucked legs before we put them in there we don't specifically. Because it hasn't been mandated by the farmer that we do that for presentation, purposes, some, farmers asked some farmers actually have a tie that goes around the legs it's like a clamp today. We're just bagging them we're not doing anything special but those are some options that you can offer to the farmer the, other thing that can save people's em, time and. We. Will usually cut a slit. In. This area, right there and emotionally. And force the legs through the, other thing that you'll see sometimes on youtube videos is where they will extract, and cut off the whole tail we. Really, advise against, that the consumer, is used to seeing a bird come to them with the tail intact, and when, you cut the tail off it makes the bird look like there's something wrong with it and it's just we have gotten really bad feedback, about that there's, no reason to remove the tail cut that little gland off the back you're good to go and it's what the consumer, expects. So. We're on our final, stages. Here, moving. It from the chill tank to bagging sure. And so from a current farmer, standpoint this is what we consider the pink chill and we call it the pink shell because the birds have come directly from the processing, table to, this chill tank the, water will eventually become tinged, pink because the blood in the fluid is leaching, out of the bird and, he were selling direct to the consumer off the farm he, would need an additional chill, tank after this one that was either retail, chill tank the water would be clear the water would be clean it's, much more unpleasant, experience for the consumer but, today we're going straight from the peach chill to the bag because we're bagging, for the farmer and so these, birds if it's chilling for about 15 minutes. The. Water is exceptionally. Cold combined. With 27, degree temperature in ice in the water so. At this point if you see any of. The. Rest of the process you can come through and. You can kind of rinse it off of. A lot of this stuff I will. Have leached out by this way so. You get to burn up let. It drain a little bit you, can see that's, why they come, out, of there. And. Then you move it from here to the bag so friend if you want to get your bag ready, you. Want to be careful about not letting it stay, in the water too, long. So. These bags came from, Belle farm and, Morganton. North Carolina, it's a food-grade bag very important, for mill this. Is an 18 by 36. Inch which, is appropriate. For these. Twenty to thirty pound burger. So. We put it in this. Bag just. Twist. It zip, it put, it right here on an, industrial scale. And, I'm. Going to make sure I have that to be right now. In. Pounds. Get. The weight. Use. A sharpie. Write. That on. The. Outside and this is where the farmers, label, will. Eventually. Go right. Over that, also. Important, to put the. Weight mark. These down, when. We're processing any of our birds we always do free weights and the weights at the very end so you've got a lot of an address weight for comparison. Also. When we plan, to freeze this is perfectly, fine as a final product for. Fresh. Herbs but. If you're planning to freeze your birds there's another step that you do which, involves. Submerging, it into a boiling pot of water for about three seconds, and, cutting a slit here to. Let all the air out and it will vacuum seal, it nice. And tight, super. Easy it's not one of those cumbersome. Very. Expensive. Industrial. Vacuum sealers, we just do it in the turkey fryer kind. Of split dip, it in there you can see those videos on, our, chicken, processing. And. So this particular farmer, is going to be selling directly from the coolers, to this consumers, what, we're doing the consult the coolers, are numbered we're, documenting, which birds are in which coolers, so that so we have cooler number one one three for the weight so that the farmer can say it you ordered a 15 pound bird go to cooler number one there's a 15 pounder and Buller number one it, makes it a lot easier instead, of having to sort through 40 50 60 birds digging. For that 18, pound turkey that somebody requested, and so this is a great system for that it's. All about efficiency.
Effectiveness. We've. Gone through all the stages of processing, right now and the, final, one is what we're all there for which is leading our customers, feeding, our customers, their families, creating, relationships for. Returning customers. So. There's. A lot to be said those customers, love, to know their farmers, we, love to know our customers it, is the, best way to build a sustainable food system, so Megan. And I both we, hatch. Incubate. Hatch raise we're breeding. Premium. Stock, helping. Other farmers, have great stock of. Birds to grow out we, both specialize, in heritage, poultry, which. Really. We encourage you to know about that what do you want to say about, heritage. Culturing so I think the most important thing about heritage, culture really is the sustainability, it empowers, the farmers with the ability to breed Hach raise, and process, their own birds on-farm. Processing, like we're doing today is another way that if farmers, are empowered, to ensure the quality of their product for, themselves and for their consumers, and I really. Do think that it's only a matter of time or when we're not going to be able to ship poultry through the u.s. mail and, when that happens, local farmers are going to be in crisis, because they're not gonna be able to get birds on the farm unless they're breeding themselves, and so, here at Western, Piedmont the foundation, of our poultry program is hatching. Your birds breeding your birds selecting, which birds get to be breeders and then processing, your birds for the consumer, teaching, them how to interact with the farmers interact, with the growers and in the end the consumers, as well to, ensure that the product is consistent, with what everyone, is expecting, through the process and I think that is truly sustainable when, you talk about poultry, farming it's, true and that's a shared philosophy for, us that are all in heritage poultry, and one. Of the most key things is that we are able, to have birds and graze birds that can naturally reproduce. In via turkey so. Or, chicken. Yeah. So. We invite you to learn more about heritage. Three through, what we are doing through what Megan is doing educating, people as, a sustainable, AG teacher at Western Piedmont what. We do on our farm, at Fraley farm we often lots of classes, and. We. Hatch birds for people so stay involved and be, in touch with this and you can find this that organic, growers PLC will be there will be in the poultry tract so, thank you so much Randy.