The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

DIY low budget automatic chicken plucker

DIY low budget automatic chicken plucker instructions and plans

This automatic chicken plucker is a clever and low budget alternative to the more expensive 800 dollar whiz bang option.

Kate over at living the frugal has a nice post on her experience building one for under 20 dollars.

I'm not sure if it's much of a time saver, but I love the ingenuity and spirit of this poultry project. It would be nice to see a side by side comparison of someone trained on this method next to someone plucking by hand.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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I've seen this plucker, but I'm not sure it would be any quicker than hand plucking.

I built a plucker years ago that worked very well.

A guy down the road from me raises Pastured poultry and he said he built Herrick Kimbal's wiz bang plucker. I have not seen it yet, but he said it works great. I did see one online a couple years ago and if I ever built another one I would try it.

Comment by Justin Sun Oct 9 18:50:11 2011

Justin-We would love to see some pictures of your home built plucker. Maybe we could recyle them into a post for everybody to share?

I've seen the Whiz Bang plucker in action and it seems to require some skill to do it right but seems like a good option for medium to large volume poultry processing. I've been thinking a lower end version needs to be invented and I agree with you that this hand drill version might just barely be better than hand plucking but I don't know because we have not tried it yet.

Comment by mark Sun Oct 9 20:36:13 2011
We've used a Whiz Bang Chicken plucker, and they are indeed awesome. However, since it's going to cost close to a grand to build one, I will be plucking by hand.... I'm very curious to see if there's a DIY plucker that's more in the homestead price range that will cut back on plucking time a bit. I've found that plucking is by far the most time-consuming part of processing a chicken, and even if you cut just a few minutes off that time, a $20 gadget would be worth it.
Comment by anna Sun Oct 9 20:39:32 2011
I haven't tried to build one, but does it really cost $1000 to make one??? I thought you could buy a production model for that price.
Comment by Jeremy Sun Oct 9 21:42:40 2011
I don't know the exact price tag, but it definitely adds up to multiple hundreds of dollars. If I recall correctly, the motor is the really expensive part, so if you can find one at a junkyard, you're in luck.
Comment by anna Mon Oct 10 08:30:37 2011
I'm guessing you could make money selling a device like this to S&M clubs. Call it the "autowhip". ;-)
Comment by Roland_Smith Mon Oct 10 13:42:39 2011
Don't you know this is a (mostly) family-friendly blog? :-)
Comment by anna Mon Oct 10 15:08:56 2011

The drill plucker doesn't look any faster than hand plucking to me. If you scald properly, plucking doesn't take long. Besides, they said it didn't remove the wing feathers anyway so you still have some hand-work to do.

One tip I've found for hand plucking is to wear rubberised gloves. It gives you a lot more grip on the feathers (a bit like the fingers on the drill plucker) and makes the job quicker and less fiddly. I've got a pair of "Ninja" brand gloves that work well:

The Kimball plucker is supposed to cost around $600 or so, if you buy all the parts retail. A bit of scrounging and repurposing would bring the price down considerably though.

I'm wondering whether it would be possible to hook a bicycle up to the plucker instead of an electric motor - both to reduce the build cost, and to provide an electricity-free alternative.

Comment by Darren (Green Change) Wed Oct 12 02:33:15 2011

I'll have to try the rubber gloves idea! The wing and tail feathers tend to take seconds to pull, but I do often get bogged down in plucking off all those damp feathers that stick to my fingers and the bird so that I can't tell which ones I've pulled. (Spraying the bird off helps, of course.) I think I might have Mark build me one of these to try it out on our last batch of broilers of the year --- you could be right that it'll be worthless, but I'm not so sure....

Great idea with the bike replacing the motor! Mark and I were pondering something like this, but smaller, maybe with a five gallon bucket. If we get around to playing with the idea, I'm sure you'll see it all on the blog. :-)

Comment by anna Wed Oct 12 11:10:47 2011

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