The chicken plucker I built last winter has finally seen some action. Sunday afternoon, despite the 25* temp and winds, we were out harvesting ten laying hens that reached the end of their productive life.
The only other type of plucker I’ve used or even seen in action was a table top, drum style plucker, sort of like this one. Oh my what a difference this made. My friends commented that this machine took what used to be the hardest part of killing chickens and made it the easiest.
The only difficulty was when we had to wait a little while for the scalding water to come back up to temperature. The clumps of feathers froze together and seized the drive belt to the pulley. Running some water from the hose over the feather clumps thawed them out and operations continued.
In his instructional book on how to build the chicken plucker, Herrick Kimball recommended 145* water with a 30 second scald for optimum results. We weren’t using a thermometer, just the old fashioned finger test. The plucker pulled all but a few feathers on the heads (which would be discarded anyways) and a few of the larges ones on the wings. Easy to pull by hand after the plucker was shut off.
All in all, this was a monumental success, so we celebrated with a newly canned Black IPA from our favorite local microbrewery, hence the product placement above.