Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Posted by Kate at 7:25 AM
I know my track record is not great when it comes to delivering promised posts on certain topics. I'm trying to make amends this week. So today it's a post on the homemade chicken plucker that I used to help process my three layers last week.
The idea came from someone named RedneckPete, who posted about this invention, calling it the $6 chicken plucker. You can see a video of this plucker in action here. (Don't click either link if you're squeamish about such things.) I came across this last year, when I first anticipated slaughtering my older laying hens in late fall. I can't remember exactly what the materials cost me when I went shopping for this project, but it was more than $6. I'm sure it was less than $20 however. I bought a PVC endcap, a short length of small diameter all-thread, a package of six rubber bungee cords, and a few bolts and washers. I already had the Makita drill.
The way it works is that the S-hooks are removed from the bungee cords and the cords trimmed to leave about 3" of material attached to each end. Then holes are made evenly around the PVC endcap to take the rubber "fingers" from the bungee cords. The wide ends where the S-hooks attached anchor the rubber inside the endcap. The all-thread passes through a hole drilled at the top of the endcap and offers purchase and a good grip for the electric drill. The business ends of the fingers whirl around and strip the feathers from a scalded carcass before evisceration.
I found that this worked reasonably well during my first processing experience. I still had to pluck some feathers by hand. If I'd had another pair of hands to help, it might have been better. As it was, I had to duct tape the drill to a sawhorse and depress the trigger with one hand while I manipulated the chicken carcass with the other. The largest feathers on the wings easily resisted the homemade chicken plucker, as did the finest pin feathers. Most of the others came right out.
For the very small amount of slaughtering I'm likely to do from year to year, this simple plucker will suffice. If I had ambitions for raising my own broilers in larger numbers, I might consider the Whizbang plucker, which is far more complicated and expensive to build, but can handle three chickens at a time. Harvey Ussery wrote about building one of these, and he seemed quite pleased with the performance. The drill chicken plucker is obviously a quick and dirty contraption compared to the Whizbang. But since the low end estimates for building a Whizbang come in at $600 or so, I'll stick with the <$20 model for now.