Sunday, November 29, 2009

Chicken Plucking

This long weekend finally gave us some time to finish off the last of the meat chickens.

We've brainstormed a few different ideas on how to pluck the birds... and came up with a simplified experiment.

Basically, our idea is to put rubber 'fingers' in a bucket and pull the chicken through it to pluck the feathers.

We put a bunch of holes in an old bucket.

The 7/8" drillbit was just the right diameter of hole to use.

We got a bunch of these rubber 'fingers' off ebay. These are the same fingers used for the "Wizbang Chicken Pluckers" that are all over YouTube.

Do a search on YouTube - the Pluckers are fun to watch!

Here is the bucket full of fingers.

After the fingers are in, simply cut the bottom of the bucket off with a sawzall.

We decided to take a few of the fingers out so that it wouldn't be so hard to pull the chicken through. It is easy to add or remove them.

The cold and rain have been tough on the meat chickens - they are not a very hardy animal. The laying hens are all doing well, but we've had 4 of the meat chickens die over the last 2 weeks from the cold, soaking rain.
Its pretty nasty in their pen, too. Most of the birds are about 8-10 lbs in size, so it is time to finish them.

Another trick we tired this time is to use an old feed sack to hold them in while we 'dispatched' them. Our trip to Wyoming didn't give us time to get some 'killing cones', so we thought the sack would be better and quicker than wrapping them in a towel and bungee-cord.
It worked really well. The sack was alittle too big, but the birds seemed comfortable and it held them well.

The chicken plucker worked really well! As you can see, 30 seconds of pulling the chicken through it didn't work as well as the motorized Wiz-bang Pluckers... but it worked very well as it was.
The key is a good scalding - not too long or too hot, so the feathers come out easy but the skin doesn't tear.
Feathers were flying everywhere!

While we were scalding chickens, it was also a good time to boil the deer antlers from our hunt in Wyoming.
The meat and skin is much easier after boiling for 20 minutes or so.

The work went pretty well. All the boys helped pluck and gut the birds, and the weather was very nice on the day we did it. Nice to have all those big birds in the fridge, and great to be done with dealing with them.