As we get better and better
at processing chickens, it becomes more and more apparent that plucking
takes more time than all of the other stages in the butchering process
put together. Last year, Mark built me the very simple, washboard-style
plucker shown here,
and the contraption sped us up so much that I was able to squeeze two
or three more birds into each three hour butchering episode. But
was there an even better (but still low tech and cheap) solution?
While brainstorming with
Mark’s mom over the winter, we came up with the idea of repurposing a
cat grooming glove to expedite plucking even more. The
washboard-style plucker did an awesome job when the bird came in
contact with the plucker, but birds have all kinds of nooks and
crannies that the plucking fingers seldom reached. Could human
fingers, aided by a bit of technology, do it better?
The first couple of grooming
gloves we tried weren’t very helpful, but the one shown here did indeed
speed matters up. By the end of the experimental butchering
session, Mark and I had settled on pulling out the big wing and tail
feathers by hand (they’re easy and fast, and our technological plucking
assistants couldn’t get them), running the chicken through the
washboard (since the device is fastest at removing feathers), then
going back over the bird with the plucking glove, before finally
pulling out the last few ornery feathers by hand.
The plucking glove
worked much better when we turned the hose on the bird to wash away
loosened feathers. I also quickly learned to run my hand over the
feathers in the reverse direction (roughing them up rather than laying
them flat), and to pull wings and legs this way and that to reach into
We still have seven more
broilers to process in this round, so we’ll use those birds to figure
out how long it takes me to pluck a bird by hand vs. with our two
contraptions. Stay tuned for more details.
for keeping healthy chickens of all ages.