How to Use a Chicken Plucker. The Ultimate Guide

The tub-style pluckers offer major advantages over hand plucking or any other method of de-feathering a chicken or other birds. 

If not used well, automated drum-style chicken pluckers will bruise your chicken meat, making it not have that great look of a clean plucked chicken.  In addition to ruining your meat, using an automated chicken plucker can cause injuries if the laid-out instructions are not followed well. 

In this article, we take a close look at how to use a chicken plucker. 

Getting ready (things you need).

Processing chickens, ducks, turkeys, and other poultry involves a series of activities. These are stunning/slaughtering, scalding, feather plucking evisceration, washing, and chilling. 

The chicken plucker comes in at the de-feathering stage and works closely with the scalder. A chicken that is not scalded properly cannot be plucked properly. This means for the chicken plucker to do its job well, the scalder has to do a good job. 

For you to use a chicken plucker you will need the following in place. 

  1. Power source.
  2. Water and water hose.
  3. Scalder.

Power Source.

You will need some form of electric power source for your chicken plucker. There is a lot of water splashing around when irrigating the plucker. Therefore the power socket should be in a position where water will not get in. This is to avoid injuries due to electric shock. 

Water and Water Hose.

Plucking depends on the water getting into the tub of the plucker as plucking goes on. The water washes down the feathers from the chicken and the plucker into the feather chute. 

Some pluckers come with a hose connector, where you can connect a water hose. Other pluckers do not come with a hose connector. 

You will have to hold the hose while the plucker is running. Some poultry keepers prefer not to connect the hose to the plucker so that they can move the hose around to other processing stations where water is needed. 

Scalder.

While scalders are not part of the chicken plucking activity, they are imperative to plucking. You cannot put a chicken that has not been scalded into the chicken plucker. 

The scalder is placed at a safe distance, between the killing station and the scalder. This was once the chicken is taken from the killing cone, it is placed into the scalder, then onwards to the plucker. 

The scalder should be placed in a location where you will not trip into the wires as you move around. This is because the scalder has hot water that can cause accidents. 

Placing the chicken plucker in the right location.

The location of the plucker is important for safe and stress-free processing. It should be on flat ground that drains well. 

While the plucker is operating, there is a lot of shaking as the motor is moving. A ground that is not stable might result in the plucker tipping over.  

There is also a lot of water used in the plucker and needs to drain so as not to make the ground soggy. 

The location is the plucker should be midway the evisceration station and the scalder.  Placing the plucker is way is convenient because you might need to use the same water hose at the evisceration table. 

Powering on the chicken plucker.

After placing the plucker on a level ground that drains well, it is time to get it working. Connect the water hose before you turn on the plucker. Getting water to the plucker is known as irrigation; The water helps wash feathers from the chicken and the plucker fingers during the plucking process. 

Some pluckers, such as the yardbird plucker come with a ground fault circuit interrupter. This is a safety feature that ensures that all power is used by the plucker’s motor and is not released to the wet ground around the plucker. 

Before you turn on the plucker, you have to press the reset switch on the ground fault circuit interrupter switch. Without doing this the plucker will not turn on. Once you do a pre-operation safety check, it is time to power the plucker. Flip on the switch to the on position. 

The motor will come on and the feather plate will start rotating. Please note that at this time there is no chicken in the plucker. Placing chickens in the plucker, while the plucker is off will increase the amount of power being drawn from the motor. This will eventually decrease the lifetime of the electrical components of the plucker.  

Irrigating the chicken plucker.

The next step is irrigating the plucker. This means turning on the irrigation ring. This is a ring around the inside top of the plucker that allows water to get evenly get into the plucker. 

Once the feather plate is rotating and water is running into the plucker, it is time to get the chicken plucked. 

Moving chickens from the scalder to the chicken plucker.

With the plucker running, It is time to get the chicken in. Move a chicken that has been scalded at a temperature of 130 degrees Fahrenheit and 170 degrees Fahrenheit for between 30 seconds and 2 minutes into the plucker. Remember scalding is not boiling the chicken, but exposing the skin to the right temperatures in order to loosen feathers. 

Move the chicken immediately from the scalder to the plucker. If you delay the chicken will become stiff and shield some of the feathers from the plucker fingers. The chicken should be placed in a plucker that is turned on. Do not place live chickens in the plucker. Gently lower and drop the chicken into the plucker. Do not let your hands come into contact with the moving parts. Do not throw the chicken into the plucker. 

As the plucker is working. Observe to see that the feathers are fully removed. If properly scalded, the plucker will pluck all feathers including the stubborn tail feathers. The plucking operation should take between 15 seconds and one minute. 

Please note that before every subsequent operation, you will need to let the plucker run for about 2 minutes before placing the chicken. This is to allow the feathers to be washed off the fingers, and feather plate into the feather chute. 

Getting the chicken out of the chicken plucker. 

Once the chicken is fully de-feathered, it is time to stop the plucker and remove the bird. 

Flip the power switch of the plucker off. Weight until the feather plate stops rotating before you take the chicken out. You can wait until most of the feathers are washed off the chicken before taking the chicken out. 

Once you move the chicken out of the plucker, take it to the evisceration table. To pluck more chickens, repeat the steps, starting from powering on the plucker. 

Frequently asked questions on using a chicken plucker

Can you use a chicken plucker on a duck?

Ducks and other waterfowl are hard to pluck. This is because they have more oil under their skin, that holds their feathers tightly. You can use a chicken plucker on a duck, provided you scald well and the duck can fit into the plucker. You will need more soap in the scalding water. To check if the duck has been well scalded, manually pluck some fathers from the areas that are usually hard to pluck,  such as the pelvis and breast. If the feathers are coming out easily, then it is time to move the duck into the plucker. 

Can you use a chicken plucker for quail?

Quail are much smaller than chickens. The chicken fingers are spaced out well for plucking larger birds such as chickens. Plucking quail with a chicken plucker might end up with quails that are not well plucked, as the bird will just toss around the plucker, without coming into good contact with the plucker fingers. It is recommended you purchase a smaller plucker that is well designed to work with quails. 

Can you pluck a turkey in a chicken plucker? 

Turkeys are bigger in size as compared to chickens and ducks. It is recommended to buy a big size chicken plucker If you plan to use a chicken plucker to pluck both turkeys and chickens. Some poultry keepers have had success plucking turkeys with a chicken plucker. They do cut off the legs before placing the turkey into the plucker. This allows for the turkey to fit into the plucker. 

Do you have any ideas you would like to share on using chicken pluckers? Please used the comment form below to share. 

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About James

I grew up on a small farm. My parents used to grow food and keep animals for our sustenance. They would sell the surplus to make an extra coin to supplement the income from their jobs. I am taking the same path. I have over 40 chickens for eggs and meat. I also grow vegetables in my backyard. follow me on Twitter

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