Monday, July 07, 2008

eight down fourty seven to go

we just butchered eight chickens--screaming kids the whole way. tristan complained, toly cried and kassi was surprisingly calm and content. tristan and kassi helped catch chickens. they asked a million questions regarding body parts and uses. what was edible? what we saved for the dogs? mostly, why did we do every little thing. my usual strategy is to overwhelm their question with long and detailed information until their eyes glaze over. somehow kassi is immune and stays alert and queued for the next why.

we killed eight in about two and a half hours. that works out to roughly twenty minutes a bird. not bad for a couple of amateur homesteaders. we wanted to kill twelve but heat, biting insects and crazy kids shortened our time available. through the years i have been entertaining the idea of a whizbang chicken plucker. i just can't imagine that it saves so much time as to justify $250. that is the minimum possible amount the thing could cost even with my resourcefulness on collecting necessary stuff for little or no money.

has anyone seen one of these tub style pluckers work? i need an unbiased opinion.

tabitha is going to process some of the peaches today. i'll hopefully get to work on the solar dehydrator.

25 comments:

R. Sherman said...

Having plucked precisely two chickens in my life, I would probably do anything to come up with 250 bucks to build a mechanical device. However, if you prorate the cost over the number of years you'll have it, the time savings and ability to have more chickens, the surplus you could perhaps sell, the cost may be pretty darn affordable.

I always enjoy my visits here and wish you, yours and your garden well.

Cheers.

karl said...

freezer defrost drain clogged. i had to empty and disassemble the freezer and compressor area. ooohh the mess was incredible. dust, goo and grainy wet sticky coatings. solar dehydrator queued for thursday.

Madeline said...

Karl, your luck's so due to change now. Freezer defrost clog! Damn. But it is good to know that the bees thing was a joke. Wish the rest was too. I wanted to tell you that we borrow a plucker and will buy one if we have to. It makes a huge difference. I don't think it is that brand though. I'll ask them how much they paid for their's. We are way overdue to send our roosters to the plucker.

uncle matt said...

You've used the word "queue" a lot lately. Word of the day toilet paper again? Are you going to barbe"queue" those chickens? :)

Kristianna said...

Karl~ the chicken processor that we use says that he puts two chickens in at a time and turns the plucker on for about 20 - 30 seconds. That's it, then they're done being plucked.

I have plucked chickens before and my husband is planning to build a plucker, that is the only way we can process them ourselves and we really do need to process them ourselves as our first and only batch of having someone else process cost us 4.50 per bird. :(

We decided to try the processor because the last time we tried to process chickens on our own my husband and I both got sick to our stomachs. Not sure if it was the heat + dead chickens or what. It was awful, though.

I hope things look up for you and yours soon.

K

nt moore said...

Karl,

I bought a plucker last summer for a few ducks and found it to be completely worthless. It was designed to work off of a 12v marine battery, but came with a transformer/inverter to run off of a household circuit. Problem was, duck feathers are too hard to remove and the fuse on the plucker continually tripped. 1 duck took about 20 minutes!!!

I fillet out breasts and legs on roosters - I don't bother with the breasts. With this procedure a bird takes about 3-5 minutes. They're actually quite easy to skin after the first 10 or so.

Then again, you might like chicken skin...

NT

mamabug said...

awesome drawings!

Wendy said...

Our butcher uses a plucker. He processes a lot of birds, though. I mean, that's kind of what he does all summer, and then in the fall, it's larger animals.

I'd say, if you can afford it, you should consider it. It might be that you'd be able to pick-up a few dollars plucking your neighbors' chickens. Maybe they don't have any chickens now, or maybe they pluck their own, but if they knew you had that fancy-smancy machine, they might offer to pay you to use it and/or pay you to process their meat. My butcher charges $4 per bird. If we had one of those machines, we'd have to process 63 birds for it to be worth our while. With the way things are going, though, it might just be ... :).

Ed Abbey said...

My parents used to raise 100 chickens at a time. Processing them was a two day entire family affair. I'm guessing $250 even back then would have seemed cheap at the end of two days.

I would buy the book anyway so you have the plans and aren't out a lot of money. Then if you happen across used parts that would work, you can store them until you have enough to build one maybe several years down the road. You might do better than $250 that way.

We toss away slightly used motors left and right here where I work because they can't be sold. I wonder what kind of motor you need?

Rurality said...

I don't have any personal experience but have heard some people say that they bruise the bird. Others swear by them... Are you on the Homestead-Work email list? Those folks have lots of answers to questions like this.

Margaret said...

Karl,

We own a plucker with several other families. It's a great thing to share if you have people within a reasonable distance that are interested. New people keep buying in, so we now have a little fund growing to buy a replacement or do repairs when needed. Made the cost very reasonable. It is a tabletop drum plucker, you have to hold the bird, we think it's great. Cost about $400 or $450.

Margaret

Nita said...

We take our chickens to a friends farm who owns all the equipment. It is a breeze. The plucker is wonderful. The post about our day butchering is titled NOT FOR THE SQUEAMISH, mostly pictures, so you can see the plucker. Around here some people take the chickens home after the plucking and do the gutting at home, he charges a nominal fee per chicken so that makes the whole process affordable if you don't want to invest in the equipment. For us, to get the weather right for our cornish, we are raising them when we are the busiest - not spending days doing the chicken processing keeps us from getting off of our other tasks and keeps us smiling.

Maya said...

I swear I just recently saw plans somewhere on a build it yourself plucker (not that you need any more projects). I will try and figure out where I saw them. From what I recall it seemed relatively inexpensive materials wise...

Ron said...

I'm hoping to avoid the plucking and we don't usually eat the skin anyway... so I think we are going to try skinning our chickens when the time comes.

Our daughter is just like Kassi when given lots of information. :)

Ron

karl said...

madeline, thanks things were looking pretty bleak.

matt, word of the day email...

kristianna, yeah it seems that a plucker is in my future.

nt moore, we gave our ducks away.

donna, thanks the kids really have wonderful imaginations.

wendy, thanks. i know it won't happen this year.

ed abbey, yeah the fingers are a set cost $99 plus shipping the rest is obtainable but some things will always cost a little.

rurality, it is so risky to invest into a machine that we are not sure works.

margaret, we are an oddity in these parts. shareing wouldn't be an option.

nita, thanks i'll check out your link. i am really curious.

maya, yeah if you can find them...

ron, we love the skin here. skinning isn't an option for us.

Ed Abbey said...

Curiosity bit me so I spent some time looking for plucker plans. They are hard to come by. I found two for table top versions that might be a good temporary solution until the materials for a Whizbang model could be found. The last link has some good pictues on a tub one similar to the Whizbang.

http://www.countrysidemag.com/issues/90/90-1/Ray_Kreuziger.html
http://www.homesteadingtoday.com/showthread.php?t=130787
http://home.rica.net/phelbert/tub.html

Ed Abbey said...

In link form:

Table Top Model
Drill Attachment Plucker
Tub Plucker Closeup Pictures

sugarcreekstuff said...

I haven't read the article yet but the latest Backyard Poultry magazine has a man who built a plucker. The magazine is 4.95 around here.

sugarcreekstuff said...

I just typed in Backyard Poultry and if you hit current issue, scroll down, they have the article and photos. Free! Hope this helps.

Mysticapex said...

Hi I hope all is well and you've moved on to more than eight chickens. We lost one of our layers in the night, no clue as to the cause, just dead in the chicken house. If you lived closer I think that I have a friend with a plucker he no longer uses.

I now have a worn farm and am looking forward to the Vermicompost (Gold for the Garden) but the little buggers were climbing out trying to escape I think it was too dry (didn't want to drown them) but its been all day with the wetter conditions and now all is well. Dads Birthday is the 21st.
I Love you all, give hugs and kisses

Laura

Ang. said...

We start butchering this Saturday. Our plan is to get 20 of them done. We have great neighbors who help us but I have wondered about a plucker, too. That is the worst job out of the whole process in my opinion!

Kevin and Beth said...

Karl,
We bought the Whizbang plans and the plucker fingers. We need to get a few more things and then we have to get ours done. Our meat birds came Monday so we have about two months. Our processor retired so we have to get busy and do it ourselves. Not really looking too foward to it but in the end it will be for the best. I hope you hurry and build yours first and document everything!
Kevin and Beth

Anonymous said...

wondering how Tabitha is doing

connie

Sasha said...

Quick question--do you have some trick to getting the gizzard out without busting it. Anthony butchered two chickens this evening and had problems with that.

~Sasha

Anonymous said...

I've seen the whizbang chicken plucker in action at a local farmers house. In 30 seconds the chickens were completely clean with only a couple of wing feathers left. They are amazing. No bruising or torn skin, just a chicken ready to eviscerate. Worth every penny if you have a bunch of chickens to process. I plan on going in shares with my sister and buying the parts to build one for next season. Done enough hand plucking in my life time.

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