An Excellent Pictoral Essay on Slaughtering Turkeys

I came across this blog some years back and enjoyed what I read. Unfortunately, there haven’t been any new posts in quite a while – hopefully Kristeva is busy promoting her book or doing something worthwhile.

I’m glad for her writing remaining online, because back in 2008 she put together one of the best little photo essays on slaughtering turkeys that I’ve seen. It helped me when I started dealing with my own meat birds, though I raised chickens, not turkeys. We’ve covered slaughtering before, but for those of you who haven’t done it yet and want just one more nice gruesome walk through, I highly recommend Kristeva’s piece on it.

“I have, up until today, learned most of what I know about farming, animal husbandry, animal veterinary care, and butchering from a book. When you have been raised in the city, don’t have a farming background nor access to someone knowledgeable to teach you, this becomes the only way to learn.

My friend Clarence was butchering his turkeys today, and upon hearing his technique, my ears perked up and I asked him if I could help. Not only was it a chance for me to learn by doing, but also it was a chance for me to get behind the camera and document the process!

We had discussed the various ways of killing a turkey and when he asked me how I did it, I told him we cut the heads off. ‘That’s how we did it on the farm’ he told me. ‘I don’t do it that way anymore’. A long time ago, an old Jewish Rabbi taught Clarence how to butcher turkeys the kosher way. Since learning from the Rabbi, Clarence has never looked back. ‘You sever the jugular’ he said, gesturing to his neck  with a slicing motion, then telling me how this technique keeps the bird from flapping around, risking hurting itself and/or you in the merry dance. ‘They only flap a bit at the very end of their life this way’ he told me.

Until today, I had only read about this technique…” (Click here to keep reading. Warning, vegans – this is graphic!)

I haven’t attempted raising turkeys yet since they apparently don’t mix all that well with chickens in a flock.

Perhaps one day.

As it is, my chickens taste so good we’ve eaten them for Thanksgiving the last few years. There’s nothing like a home-raised free-range bird.

About David Goodman

David Goodman is a naturalist and hard-core gardener who has grown his own food since 1984. At age five, he sprouted a bean in a Dixie cup of soil and caught the gardening bug. Soon after, his dad built an 8’ by 8’ plot for him and David hasn’t stopped growing since. David writes a regular column for Natural Awakenings magazine in North Central Florida, posts on the Mother Earth News blog, owns a nursery of hard-to-find tropical edibles and grows roughly 1.5 zillion plants on his one-acre homestead. In mid-2012, he launched as a place to share his ongoing experiments with tropical and temperate crops. He currently has over 20 intensive beds, multiple field plots, over 100 fruit trees, two food forest projects in different climates and a series of ongoing experiments in-progress - all of which bring him closer each day to complete food security. David is a Christian, an artist, a husband, a father of seven, a cigar-smoker and an unrepentant economics junkie. Visit his daily blog here: The Survival Gardener Follow him on Twitter here:

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5 Responses to “An Excellent Pictoral Essay on Slaughtering Turkeys”

  1. Nikki Says:

    Not a fan of cutting the jugular. I don’t care what anyone things, it’s still cruel to let an animal bleed out. We chop the head off and it’s over. With turkeys, the size and wings can be a danger, but if you put the bird in a feed sack with only the head out and chop them the can’t get you with the wings and the neck usually pulls bag into the bag and there is no blood spray either. Just FYI.


    • David Goodman Says:

      I’ve heard people argue both ways. Some say it’s crueler to decapitate them since it hurts, they maintain consciousness for a few seconds afterwards, etc.

      But, that said, I’m a decapitator.

      The feed sack idea is a good one – thank you for sharing.


  2. americuh Says:

    We shoot our turkeys from the back of the head forward with a 22 short. They are instantly dead, but do beat around a bit.
    Our turkeys mix with chickens just fine, however they do have a lot of room to roam.


  3. Elise Says:

    Wow, amazing link that I don’t think I ever may have stumbled upon on my own. Thanks so much!


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