Next weekend is hen culling day; we have some older spent hens and some hens who don’t lay enough to justify dealing with their aggressive barnyard attitude. So on Sunday the flock will go from 29 to 15. This time we will have the use of a homemade chicken plucker.
My very clever husband, Kip, after doing research and then taking a tally of the parts stored/stacked/saved in his tool shop, gathered parts and then bought some others to construct a mechanical chicken plucker. You might ask why a person needs a mechanical chicken plucker. Ask away! The answer is that on butchering day, when faced with scalding, plucking, and gutting sometimes up to 50 chickens the choke point is the plucking part.
Industrial slaughter houses use huge machines for this step but only recently have small farm tinkerers come up with several variations that suit a home based operation.
However when we read the reviews of tub designs, never mind their high cost to build (anywhere from $250-$650 dollars), one big problem seems to be the way in which the bird tends to get beaten up by the rotary action against the side of the tub – often with broken bones and bruises on the carcass. Hardly what one want for birds one has carefully raised for a family’s consumption!
On the other end of the spectrum is the small portable table mounted drill driven plucker tube with the flexible plucker ‘fingers’ attached.
Check out https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rvX1zDHWG_U to see a drill driven unit at work.
What Kip and Kierk envisioned was somewhere in the middle of these two versions, including more control of where the feathers fly by including a shield and no bruising of the carcass.
Here are pictures of our first trial before the addition of the feather catcher; followed by the more finished machine that we will be using next week: