With all the homesteading, hunting, fishing and animal-raising background I have, you’d think I’d be desensitized to putting an animal down.
I can do it, but I feel a twinge inside of me each time. Life. I’m going to take a life to nurture my own? Perhaps because of my love for nature and animals, this task is one I’d rather pass off to someone else. I look forward to the day when death will be no more! And if I have to butcher an animal, I want success in my first attempt. Accidents do happen, but planning ahead will make ’em few and far between events.
Four Basic Methods & Which You Should Choose
The Chopping Block
Heritage turkeys have large heads and thick, thick necks. While the chopping block works well for chickens, but unless you are incredibly accurate with an axe, it can be difficult to fully severe a turkey’s thick neck-bone. Remember, these birds are incredibly strong! On the block, a hit-gone-wrong may lead to a loss of control over the bird. No one wants an injured turkey running around their farm.
No one! Trust me. I know!
Wringing the Neck
Not commonly practiced today, some wring (aka break) the bird’s neck with their hands. I don’t recommend this method for turkeys due to their dense skeletal structure. A quick and clean process is the goal!
The easiest (and preferred method) is a killing cone or the upside down method. Regardless of your choice, it includes slicing through the bird’s windpipe & veins with a very sharp knife, all the way to the neck bone. Grody? Yes. But its the cleanest, most controlled and humane way to do these big fellas up. Plus, they will bleed out as an animal ought.
Its likely that you can buy or order these at your local feed-store. They ought to be secured to the side of a barn, post or tree. Shaped like a large metal funnel with a hole in the bottom, birds go in head-first. Heads ought to pop out the hole. Feet should extend past the top of cone. Let ’em wave in the air! The bird ought to be facing you. With a very sharp knife in one hand, take the bird’s head in the other. Gently extend directly downward until beak is pointed at the ground. With one deft movement, cut through the jugular just above (remember, the bird is upside down) the head. If you’ve done your job thoroughly, blood ought to stream out. Leave the bird to finish bleeding before processing.
Makeshift Cone: I’ve heard of folks cutting circular holes in the bottom of 5 gallon buckets instead of purchasing the cone. Apparently it works well…so long as your birds aren’t too large!
Upside Down Method
This requires 2 people and a rubbermaid bin or bucket. In theory, its the same as the above method. Securing the bird by its feet, have your partner flip it breast-side up, resting it on the edge of container. Extend the neck and slice the throat as close to the head as possible. Immediately have your partner drop the bird’s head down into the bin or bucket where it can bleed out (and so you avoid getting splattered). Make certain they keep hold on the feet! Once nerves have quieted down, hang up to continue bleeding out.