If you earn your livelihood by running a poultry farm, then one of the tools you’ll find indispensable is a chicken plucker. If you’re raising broilers for personal consumption, then butchering and dressing a few birds once in a while is not much of a bother. However, pulling out the feathers of multiple chickens regularly for the market can indeed be challenging.
Of course, you can avoid the tedious task of plucking or feathering off the birds by skinning them. However, you’d want to retain the skin not only because the membrane tastes excellent also because it abounds in collagen. So plucking out the feathers is the only option you have for dressing a fowl to keep its skin intact.
A chicken plucker comes in perfectly handy, relieving you from the tedious and time-consuming chore of plucking hundreds of roosters.
What exactly is a chicken plucker?
A chicken plucker, as the name indicates, is a tool or machine you use for the mechanical dressing of chickens. Also known as a poultry plucker, a chicken plucker offers you relief from the humdrum chore of manually feathering off the pullets and talking about chicken pluckers; you can buy one from the market or make one yourself if you wish to save.
A chicken plucker machine can be quite expensive, so you can purchase it by pooling money with other homesteaders. Alternatively, you can buy one and allow other poultry farmers to use it on a rental basis for recouping investments. Nevertheless, the best and the most effective solution would be to construct a chicken plucker on your own from scratch.
There are some easy as well as complicated ways when it comes to making a chicken plucker the DIY route. We walk you through some of the most simple and straightforward methods of building poultry pluckers without spending too much.
Different ways of building a chicken plucker DIY
Jack McGee Style Chicken Plucker
Jack McGee, a homesteader, based in Michigan, found commercial poultry pluckers a tad expensive for his small backyard poultry farm. He went on to create his chicken plucker from dismantled squirrel cage blower pieces, 12-inch PVC pipe, and processed plywood. Jack used his homemade chicken plucker for five years at a stretch, thereby enabling him to save enough to buy a commercial model.
The Jack McGee poultry plucker’s design is an exact blueprint or replica of a commercial-grade chicken plucker. You’ll find creating this chicken plucker machine quite easy provided you know how to salvage, recycle unused spare materials. Disassembled parts of cage blowers, a few plyboard pieces, leftover PVC pipes are all you’ll need for creating a Jack McGee poultry.
Part of the machine’s top is made from a heated and flattened 12-inch food grade PVC pipe. You place the roosters or fowls on the the PVC top in a manner that the birds never come in contact with the treated wood. The rotary drum is also shaped out from 12-inch PVC pipes, and both the sides are made out of dismantled squirrel cage blowers.
The drum turns around a 1.5-inch thick shaft chiseled out of industrial-grade steel. The shaft is tethered to the exterior of the wooden structure with the help of metallic parts and bushings recycled from cage blowers. You’ll need to drill ¾-inch holes into the rotary drum where the plucker fingers will go in.
You can order the plucking fingers online from sites retailing farm and homesteaders’ tools. Make sure the size of your plucking fingers is commensurate with the dimensions of the holes in the poultry plucker drum. Your setup will sit inside a watertight electric box enclosure that needs to be wired up for supplying electrical power.
Making a Poultry Plucker from a Washing Machine
If you have a defunct washing machine that you have packed away in the storeroom, you can recycle it for making a chicken plucker. You’ll be able to make good savings as most of the components you need for the project are already available. You could experience difficulty or have it easy while constructing the machine, depending on your engineering skills and craftsmanship.
Nevertheless, you’ll be able to hone your skills to a great extent while attempting to transform your idle washing machine into a chicken plucker. Once you’re through with building the computer, you can use it not only for plucking pullets but also for defeathering ducks, geese, and turkeys.
Owing to the large size of this chicken plucker, you’ll be able to dress and process chickens in bulk and quickly as well.
Washboard Chicken Plucker
For fabricating the washboard type chicken plucker, you’ll need to implant plucker fingers on the underneath and ends of U-shaped plywood. However, you’ll have to remove the feathers from wings, tail, and the area in between the legs manually before placing the broilers on the machine for plucking. On the other hand, you can pluck feathers from the domains above of pullets after putting them through the machine.
For plucking, you’ll need to pull on the roosters placed on the plucker, several times which can be laborious. Plucking in this fashion can be somewhat time-consuming, but you’ll be able to save upfront on utility expenses! You’ll be able to speed up the plucking process if you turn the birds while you pull them.
Yardbird-Style 1.5HP Chicken Plucker
The Yardbird-Style 1.5HP Chicken Plucker can help you to defeat her a rooster or pullet entirely in 15 seconds flat or less. The commercial Yardbird Chicken Plucker serving as a model for creating your DIY poultry plucker relieves you from the humdrum chore of manual plucking, which takes about thirty minutes per bird. You’ll need a food-grade drum or tub, robust rubber casters with ball bearings for portability, and irrigation rings for plucking.
At the same time, you’ll also need 1-1.5HP maintenance-free gear motor that’ll offer more than 35lbs of plucking power or force. Additionally, you’ll have to attach or affix a slideway that’ll function as a feather chute, channeling feathers into a bucket. The integrated irrigation rings come in perfectly handy for automatic feather plucking, thereby enabling you to complete other related tasks.
Make sure that the food-grade tub has a quick-release system or mechanism that allows you to detach it for cleaning. This Yardbird-style poultry plucker can offer you great convenience in dressing pullets, depending on how efficiently you design the machine. Your Yardbird-type chicken plucker can defeather chickens in a jiffy and can be transported and cleaned with remarkable ease.
Whizbang Type Homespun Poultry Plucker
Any poultry farmer will substantiate that when it comes to dressing chickens for the market, defeathering the birds is the most challenging part of the job. Almost all homesteaders and poultry farmers will agree that plucking pullet feathers by hand is a very time-consuming and arduous task.
So as a homesteader, if you find the chore of manually plucking roosters daunting, then you can buy the Whizbang Chicken Plucker. The Whizbang Chicken Plucker is a tub-style poultry plucking machine with multiple plucking fingers made out of high-quality rubber. While the majority of the rubberized plucking fingers are implanted into the rotary drum or “feather plate” in the machine bed, the remaining ones embedded in the tub are fixed.
All you’ve to do once you turn the machine on is to place a couple of overheated butchered chickens over the feather plate, and they’ll be plucked in no time. However, the steep price of a Whizbang Chicken Plucker could discourage you from purchasing the machine for your poultry farm. Even the cheapest model of this automatic poultry plucker could set you back by nothing less than $700.
Therefore the next best thing you can do is to construct your chicken plucker that’ll be a replica of the Whizbang model. You can order the paperback edition of “The Whizbang Plucker Plan Book” online for $20 for building a chicken plucker.
Alternatively, you can download a PDF version of the above plan book that costs $16.00. Everything about the book will impress you, including its quality and the simple and straightforward poultry plucking machine-building instructions. You’ll find the instructions easy to follow as the guidelines come with illustrations, and you’ll find the chapters on poultry processing and safety helpful as well.
At the same time, information and instructions on other chicken plucker construction modes come in quite handy. The plan book lists the components and accessories you’ll need for creating a DIY Whizbang type chicken plucking machine. Nevertheless, finding the exact parts and components, as mentioned in the book, could be somewhat challenging.
For a start, you’ll need an electric motor for powering up the setup which you can salvage from an old farm machine lying idle in your homestead. You’ll be able to save a lot of money if you can recycle and reuse an old electric motor. After that, you have to create a tub or drum out of disposable barrels made out of plastic or wood.
Next up is the featherplate shaped like a disc that needs to be sufficiently robust to hold onto a couple of bobbing roosters. On the other hand, the featherplate has to be fully waterproof. You can carve out a featherplate from a 1/4th-inch thick aluminum sheet as per the book’s instructions, or you can create one from 1/8th inch thick galvanized steel sheet.
120 Plucker Fingers Chicken Plucker
The specialty of this Achorn Farm-Style Chicken Plucker is its plucking fingers numbering 120 in total.
Most of the components he needed for making the machine were already with him except the lumber, coupling, screws, and plucking fingers. The plucking fingers which he ordered from Kent Company, Florida, were amongst the costliest items he used for building the poultry plucker. Maine Man was pleasantly surprised at the efficiency of the machine once he had finished creating it.
You, too, can build an efficient and heavy-duty chicken plucker for your poultry business if you just follow the steps Maine Man did. For designing your own Achorn Farm poultry plucker, you’ll need quality rubber plucker fingers, scrap wood planks, an old or idle snowblower gearbox, and a large food-grade plastic barrel.
Chicken plucker FAQs
How does a chicken plucker work?
Chicken pluckers comprise a circular drum or tub, which in turn houses a plate known as the featherplate. An electrically powered motor drives this feather plate implanted with multiple plucking fingers made of rubber. When you switch on the machine, the engine makes the feather plate rotate following which you throw in a couple of culled and scalded hens into the vat.
The birds spin along with the featherplate as the plucker fingers beat the plumes off. It takes about 15-20 seconds to pluck and remove the feathers from the roosters thoroughly.
Do you need to cull the chickens before putting them through the plucker?
You butcher the birds, bleed, and scald them thoroughly before you start plucking off their feathers manually. Therefore you should follow the same process when defeathering the birds using a chicken plucker. Scalding (dunking the birds in boiling water) loosens up the skin making it easier for the machine to pluck off the feathers.
Is there a chance of the birds getting pounded during the plucking process?
Bruising and pounding occurs only when the birds have not been bled thoroughly. Culling the pullets and draining out the blood properly ensures that there is no bruising when the plucker fingers flail the feathers off.
Does the pullet ever bob out of the drum while it is being plucked?
No. Instead of bobbing out of the tub, the roosters or hens keep stumbling from one side to the other.
After going to this article, you’ll have a fair idea of how to make a poultry plucker DIY on your own. You can construct a chicken plucker by recycling and reprocessing parts and components from different farm tools and implements lying idle. One crucial aspect you need to keep in mind is that the materials and ingredients you reuse must be food-grade.
There’s a good possibility that the components could contaminate the birds during the plucking process if they are not food-grade. There are many other ways or methods of creating a poultry plucker apart from the techniques explained in this article. Once you achieve a high level of proficiency in building chicken pluckers, you can earn the right amount by exploiting your skills.