We just finished two days of slaughtering chickens. It was a big job because our “fingers” for the Whizbang Chicken Plucker were out of stock. If you have ever plucked a chicken you know this is the most tedious job in processing chickens. Commercial chicken pluckers cost in the thousands of dollars. I decided to look for a used model online but found Herrick Kimball’s book Anyone Can Build a Tub-Style Mechanical Chicken Plucker. I bought the book but the rubber picker fingers, which his son Robert sells, were out of stock. If you would like to see a video on the process, please watch Whizbang Chicken Plucker. You’ve got to love these guys!
The day before yesterday, Shaen set up the assembly line:
1. The first area is for killing cones. He uses inexpensive roadside cones that are cut down to accommodate the chicken’s head.
2. The second step is located outside. The scalding area uses a turkey deep-fryer attached to a 20 pound propane tank. This is a big pot full of water which is heated to 150 degrees. The chickens are dunked for about one minute to loosen the feathers.
3. The third area is the plucking seat. There is a big bin for feathers and a seat for the plucker. An upside-down pail acts as a table to rest the chicken being plucked.
4. The fourth area is a washing area for cleaning and removal of pin-feathers.
5. The fifth area was for cutting off the feet, gutting and final cleaning. The “dressed” chickens then go into a cooler full of ice and water.
6. The sixth area is for wrapping the chickens and packing up the organs. We saved the feet, liver, heart and gizzards. The chickens were then put into our massive old-style freezer. This freezer has a special setting for maximum cool down which isn’t normally available on new freezers. People are just not freezing large amounts of meat at one time anymore.
We started processing the chickens yesterday morning. Shaen caught the chickens and worked at the killing cones. He did double time dunking the chickens in the scalder which loosens the feathers before plucking. I was the main chicken plucker. Christine washed, checked over the birds, and removed any pin feathers. Chris Harder, our welcome volunteer, worked at the gutting table and wrapping area.
It took the four of us about 10 hours to process about 50 chickens. If we called in a professional team to do this job it would have cost about $4.00 per chicken. It will take far less time when we have the Whizbang Chicken Plucker finished.
Update September 13, 2009: I have been asked if I can sell the chickens we are producing. Unfortunately, if I sold even one chicken, I become a criminal. The government wants to keep you safe from people like me. They know their “government inspected meat” is far safer than my chickens washed in the kitchen sink. If you are wondering about the governments record of safety regarding inspected meats, please read: Slaughtering in BC: Information You Need to Know.