Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Chicken Butchering – Part 3 – Plucking

Once the chickens have been killed and bled out, the next step is plucking. Before the chickens are plucked they need to be dunked into hot water to loosen the feathers. We set up a large pot of water on a propane burner and heated it up to about 150 degrees. If you gather together five people who have plucked chickens, I suspect you will get 6 opinions as to the correct temperature and amount of time for this scalding step. If the scald is too hot or long then the skin may tear when you pluck. If the temperature of the scald is too low then the feathers will be very difficult to pluck. The person doing the scalding and plucking eventually gets the feel for the perfect scald temperature and time...

The first batch we butchered we hand plucked some and machine plucked some. By the time we did the second batch we had gotten the knack of the machine plucker and were doing them all by machine. The machine is ancient, but still does the job. It consists of a rotating drum with rubber finger like things that stick out. As the chicken is held against the rotating drum, the rubber fingers pull the feathers off. In addition to drum pluckers like we used, there are tub pluckers. These are even easier. You just put the scalded chickens inside and they are plucked clean with out even holding them.

Part 1 Prep
Part 2 Slaughter
Part 3 Plucking
Part 4 Evisceration and Chilling
Part 5 Eating & Freezing
Part 6 Final Thoughts
Checking the temperature of the scald while some geese look on. The knew it was chicken butchering day and they were safe :)

Plucking a chicken with the old automatic plucker.

Making sure the plucker did a good job.

Plucking by hand.


  1. Looks like that plucker does a grand job. We hand plucked a couple but couldn't get the water temp/duration right and since then have just skinned them all.

    I'm really looking forward to your evisceration post. I always have to cut mine open down the spine to get the guts out so I don't ever end up with a nice roasting bird. I might try plucking again if I could end up with a decent roaster.

  2. It was very interesting seeing these photos. You do chickens on a much larger scale than we do since we only produce for our own family. Recently we've been dry plucking and that has gone well. It is key to not do it around molt when new feathers are coming in though!

  3. Walter, The reason I do chicken on a larger scale is because, I don't have the land to pasture them myself and am always piggy-backing on someone elses chicken project. I usually only get one chance a season, so try to do 25 to freeze for the winter

  4. Anonymous5:00 PM

    hi we are resorching a machine hand pluker for the chicken hair but we have not knowledge this macine please can you send us this macine's propectüse can you information about this macine (for ex can you sell this macine ?) and now where this macine is use? please help us
    ( )
    good bye

  5. Anonymous12:02 PM

    hey, hang them by one leg :) easier to pluck the in-between bits.