Got chickens ready to be processed but not sure how to remove the feathers? You’re not alone. Thankfully, there are a number of ways to make this happen. We’ll discuss many of them and you can decide which method will work best for you! The best way to pluck chickens really just comes down to your personal preference.
We’ll take a look at plucking chickens by hand, using a machine like the Whizbang plucker, a drill plucker, or similar. We’ll also briefly cover skinning the chicken, which eliminates the need to pluck feathers altogether!
To learn about which meat chickens are the best to raise, read this article.
There are a variety of Pluckers out there, some of them better than others. They come in many shapes and sizes (and price ranges). And one method is nearly free, which is simply dunking it in hot water and plucking the feathers by hand.
We’ll discuss a few of the most commonly used ways of plucking chickens below.
PREPARING THE WATER FOR PLUCKING CHICKENS
Regardless of what type of plucking method you prefer, the process requires using hot water. Without hot water, the feathers will not come off properly and you’ll simply be beating or tearing the carcass, no thanks!
Below is a brief rundown of the process:
1) The chicken must be humanely dispatched.
2) Heat a bucket or barrel of water to between 130 Fahrenheit (about 55 C) and 170 F (about 77 C). If you’re processing a large flock, you’ll want to have a heat source under the water container, occasionally turning it back on to get the water back to the correct temperature as it begins to cool down during the dunking process. A handy thermometer is helpful as well. Growing up, my mom was able to guage the temperature without all of these gadgets, but that’s simply because she had a lot of experience!
3) Dunk the chicken into the hot water and swish around for about 30 seconds to one minute. You’ll be able to tell if you’re ready to pluck by pulling on the wing feathers. If they come out fairly easily, you are then ready to pluck the rest of the bird.
4) Pluck away! Begin plucking the chicken, removing all the visible feathers on the entire carcass. Check between the legs and near the rump area too. Remove pin feathers as well.
Once done, it’s ready for processing.
Now onto the various plucking options:
If you’re looking for an easy way to pluck chickens, the Whizbang plucker is the best way to go. This plucking machine is designed to make plucking chicken feathers a breeze.
Simply put your chicken in the plucking machine and let it do its job. The Whizbang will quickly and easily remove all the feathers from your chicken, leaving you with a clean and plucked chicken, ready for final processing. Below is an example of a homemade Whizbang Plucker.
They are easy to buy online, sometimes at feed stores, and other times on sites like Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace. They may look a bit pricey, but if you’re planning to process chickens on a regular basis, it can be worth the added expense upfront as it will save a lot of time, and allow you to pluck a lot of chickens quickly.
Another option is to rent a Plucker. We found one to rent on Craigslist, but you can do a google search for your area and likely locate someone who rents one out. That way, you can try it out first to make sure it’s the right solution for you.
You can also check in with fellow poultry farmers in your area to see if they have a Plucker you can borrow or rent. It’s not only a way to network, it’s a great way to learn more tips and tricks about raising chickens!
The Whizbang Plucker can remove feathers from many chickens at one time in a matter of seconds.
The drill Plucker is one of the most popular methods for plucking chickens because it’s fast and relatively easy to use. You can also Jerry-rig something out of PVC, attaching a few rubber nipples to it, and you’re ready to go.
However, it does require some experience to get the hang of it, and it’s not always gentle on the chicken. If you’re not careful, you can end up tearing the skin or damaging the meat. It’s also a bit slower than using the larger Whizbang.
However, if used correctly, the drill plucker can be a fast and efficient way to pluck your chickens. Not only that, it’s great for the small homesteader who just processes a few chickens per year.
Plucking Chickens By Hand Using Hot Water
This is the most popular way of plucking chickens, and is also the cheapest! It simply requires a pot of hot water.
Once the chickens have been dispatched, they can be placed in hot water. As stated above, the temperature should be betwee 130 F and 170 F, and held in the water for 30 seconds to one minute.
This is another method used by small farmers and homesteaders. While it’s very labor-intensive, it doesn’t require any special equipment.
To dry pluck a chicken by hand, you’ll need to start by removing the wing feathers. Once the wings are plucked, move onto the body feathers. Be sure to pluck all the feathers, even the small downy feathers.
*The trick to making this method work is to pluck the feathers while the bird is still warm, or else it will tear at the skin and will be nearly ineffective. That’s why this method is not widely used.
Because the wing feathers are tougher to pluck out, some farmers simply remove the wings since there is little meat on them.
Although dry plucking is not as common, we wanted to mention it in case you’re wanting to give it a try. Who knows, if one practices this method many times, they could get quite skilled at it!
An advantage to this method is it’s simplicity. No hot water or machines needed.
If you don’t want to pluck your chickens, you can always skin them. This is a fairly easy process, and very quick. But it does result in less meat on the carcass. Not only that, the skin of the chicken keeps in the moisture when cooking it and many people like the flavor better.
However, an advantage of skinning is that you’re eating less fat and cholesterol, which is something to consider.
To skin a chicken, start by removing the wings. Next, make a small cut at the base of the neck. You’ll then need to peel the skin away from the body, being careful not to tear it.
Once the skin is removed, you can pluck any remaining feathers around the legs.
Below is a video showing the process.
Create Your Own Plucking Machine
Another option is to build your own plucking machine. This can be a little more time-consuming, but it’s also less expensive than buying a commercial plucker.
Plus, it gives you the opportunity to customize the design to better suit your needs. There are plenty of guides available online that will walk you through the process step-by-step. A Bing, Google, or YouTube search will pull up a large number of DIY Pluckers! As it turns out, there are a lot of creative folks out there.
PVC CHICKEN PLUCKER
The above home made Plucker is a rockin’ example of some serious creativity! It’s a Plucker made from PVC piping. Found at Backyard Chickens Forum, it also includes a materials list and directions on how to build it. What a beauty!
If you are up to the task of building your own sweet Plucker, there are a few essential items needed.
- Rubber Fingers – The fingers are a little under 4 inches long (3.8 inches) and can be purchased at farm stores or online.
*To install the fingers, drill a .75 inch hole or per specifications as provided by the manufacturer
- Large Pot for boiling water and dunking chickens.
- Camp Stove or similar for heating water.
- Barrel – the large plastic blue or white drums work great
- Drill – Just use what you have. It doesn’t need to be high end or super powerful since it’s just attached to the lightweight PVC pipe with the fingers attached.
- 3/4 Horsepower Motor – If building a Whizbang Plucker.
Size of Plucker to Purchase or Make – It’s important to consider how large of a plucker you’ll need. After all, if you’re simply planning to butcher a few chickens for the family, you may not need to purchase a large Whizbang plucker. A simple drill plucker or plucking by hand will work nicely in that case.
But if you’re planning to process chickens on a larger scale, researching the larger Whizbang or commercial Pluckers may be a viable idea.
We hope you’ve gleaned a few useful nuggets from our article. Plucking chickens seems like an irritating, time consuming task. But with the right tools, it’s really not that hard!
There really is no “best way,” when it comes to plucking chickens – it all boils down to what you prefer. All the methods listed above have merit.
For information on raising meat chickens for profit, see this article.
By now you may have already decided which method is best for you. Please leave a comment to let us know which method you use and why.
Thanks for stopping by and Happy Chickening!