Right before Easter, I ran across a great deal on Cornish Rock chicks. They were on sale for $.99 each, which is a deep discount from what the hatchery usually charges. This breed is known for giving great meat in a relatively short time. As the time drew near for harvesting time, my husband began researching plucking machines.
Since I have known Lane, his motto is “work smarter, not harder.” He was not excited by the thought of hand plucking so many chickens in one day, and he did not want to string out the work over more days. When you process chickens, you have a few options. You can skin the chicken instead of plucking. You can pluck by hand or you can pluck with a machine.
We specifically wanted the skin on our chickens. We prefer to grill or stew a chicken with its skin; it is just a personal preference. And, skinning a chicken is not super simple either. Believe me, I have done it several times.
You can find plucking machines that look like washing machines with rubber pegs. The movement of the machine and the pegs quickly remove all the feathers. Unless you have more money than sense or run a huge chicken processing plant, the cost is too high for a family. It will run you around $1500.00.
Inspired by movement and rubber pegs, my husband came up with an idea that cost him about $20.00 to build. I went to the local hardware store and watched as he selected a couple of PVC caps, washers, short rubber bungee cords, and some all-thread. I have to be honest, I still did not understand where Lane was going with all these things, but I was fully confident in his abilities.
In about forty-five minutes, he called me out to his shop. I couldn’t help but chuckle when I saw his contraption. Lane continues to amaze me. I saw a metal saw horse as the stand. An electric drill provided the movement for the device. He had cut the short rubber tie downs in half and drilled snug holes in the PVC caps to hold the now rubber pegs. Now all we had to find out was–Will it work?
It did! It surpassed our expectations. You have to soak the chicken in hot water for 30 to 35 seconds first. Then hold it near the plucker while it is running. The rubber pegs quickly remove the feathers from the skin without tearing it. We found that hand plucking at the knee and on the wing tips finished the process better. Then we used a hand-held torch to singe the hairs.
Considering we had almost twenty chickens to process, we were happy to have this time-saver. Once or twice my hand got in the way and was struck by the rubber pegs. It stung for a second, but did not leave a bruise or cut my skin.
The plucker did its job and will be ready the next time we raise a flock of meat chickens. If you are interested in how Lane built this electric chicken plucker, look forward to an article devoted to divulging step-by-step how-to instructions.