Circle of Life

too freerangeIt starts with some eggs and chicks hatching in May, continues with a bunch of naughty adolescent turkeys and ends with dead turkeys in December.

Our turkeys live a natural, free-range life as you can see from the photo above – they are the ones responsible for demolishing my chard!

by the pond

More importantly they aren’t bred to be so huge that they can’t reproduce naturally – our turkeys lay eggs and incubate them, more or less successfully unlike many commercial breeds according to the knackerman.

But we don’t want to be overrun with turkeys and the males fight at the beginning of the breeding season in very early spring which isn’t very nice. So on Sunday we killed quite a few of our turkeys for some friends for their Christmas dinners.


It is very important to us that our animals live and die well so we make their last moments as stress-free as possible. This is why we kill them here.

We catch the turkey and give them a cuddle – this isn’t too hard as they have been hand reared for the first 2 months of their lives (our turkeys are not the best mothers – the abandon or squash the chicks by accident – so we keep the chicks in a brooder and the front garden for 8 weeks or so) so they are not wary of us – not too wary should I say

James and turkeyWe put them upside down in a cone – I hold their legs. James stuns them unconscious with this and then I cut their throat and they bleed out – quick and quiet.

cone and turkeyOnce they are dead I chop off the feet, wings and head

dead turkey

before dry plucking and gutting them. We do the birds one at a time so it takes a while.

plucking4plucking3No-one ever wants the heads and feet so Kainaat has a big box of treats to eat over the next week or so – nothing goes to waste.

turkeyheads and legsN.B. We don’t really celebrate Christmas ourselves and anyway we prefer to eat home-made pizza on Christmas day – because we can.

12 responses to “Circle of Life

  1. I’m not sure if I could kill the turkey or not, it’s the same with hens. I’ve nothing against it being done – it’s part of life as food for the table.
    I’ve skinned cows, horses and pigs (many years ago now) and it didn’t bother me in the slightest.
    We’re having chicken for our Christmas lunch purely and simply because it’s cheaper. I keep thinking about making a nut roast only because I’ve never had one before and fancy trying something different. Homemade pizza’s are fabulous so enjoy it. 😉

    • Nut roasts are fabulous. I was vegetarian for decades (in fact now I only eat our meat) and often made nut roast. In fact I prefer a nut roast to roast turkey. I also prefer chicken to turkey as a meat – but I like turkeys as birds. Pizza is James’ favourite food which is why we have it for Christmas with home-made mozzarella and home-cured prosciutto.

      It gets slightly easier to kill the birds, but it is never an easy job. Having seen two male turkeys fight though it is much better for us to kill the spare males – it is awful.

      • Yes I can understand about the turkeys fighting (yikes and they’re so large?!) we’ve had Cockerells fighting before now when we were younger. I’ll never forget mum going for one with her handbag! Funniest thing ever… Myself I’ve only had one Cockerell at a time or got rid of several when still quite little.

        Yes I can see it becomes more bearable with the slaughtering as times goes on.

        Must dash as son has just arrived, don’t see him often. . 😉

        • Loved the story about your mum – very funny. Once we had a turkey put the head of another turkey in its mouth – all of its head – I wish I had had a handbag then! Hope you had a good time with your son and had a good Christmas

          • Christmas was great this year. My son and his girlfriend stayed for a while that day then went back to their home.
            My daughter and I had great day walking neighbors dogs and laughing.
            Never heard of a turkey doing that before but then I’ve never kept them. Ha yeah mums old handbag would have done the job. 😉
            Hope you both had a great day too.

  2. Thank you for giving those weird creatures a lovely life and easy death. Glad you have friends, and Kainaat, who can enjoy them and all their parts. Love being witness to the cycle of life through your life on the smallholding and your stories of this. Thank you, Claire and James. Happy Christmas! Love you both.

    • Hi Chris – lovely to hear from you – hope you have a good Christmas. Kainaat is certainly enjoying all the feet and heads – nom nom nom… love to you too xx

    • I love keeping the poultry – means I get to eat meat. I can’t wait until I can eat the pekins. We are keeping the five girls and the drake to breed and then as soon as those ducklings are 8-9 weeks old they are so becoming roast duck … my mouth is watering just thinking about it.

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