Keeping chickens means that you will have a fresh supply of eggs and meat. And after you have spent so long caring for your hens, it’s nice to sit down and eat the fruits of your labor. But if you are new to chickens, you might have a lot of questions about defeathering. You might even feel overwhelmed with the thought. With our defeathering tips when plucking a chicken, you will see how easy it is.
The Scalding Method
Are you wondering how to pluck feathers from a dead bird efficiently? The best and most well-known defeathering method is by scalding a chicken. When you scald a chicken before plucking, the feather cuticles open and make the removal process like butter. But to get started, you need a few tools.
- A 5-gallon bucket or another large metal container
- A fire pit, bucket heater, or other outdoor heat sources
- Digital Thermometer
- Dish soap
- Ice water bucket (optional)
First Step: Before you can do anything else, you need to find a heating source for your bucket of water. An outdoor fire pit works well, but the bucket might get too hot for scalding. If you choose to use a bucket warmer, we recommend the Gesail 1000w Electric Immersion Heater. Using your preferred heating source, heat the bucket of water to 140 degrees.
Second Step: Once your water is heated through, add a teaspoon of dish soap to the water. Soap in the water will break the surface tension, allowing for the water to permeate the feathers. It also helps reduce the scalding time and reduce the risk of overcooking the chicken. Not to mention that the more soaked the carcass is, the easier the feathers come off.
Third Step: Now it’s time for the scalding. Holding your chickens by the feet, dunk them headfirst into the water. You will need to do this for about 30-45 seconds while shaking and swishing them in the water. Swishing ensures that the entire chicken gets wet. You might even find the majority of feathers coming out at this point. Just remember only to do it in short bursts keeps your chickens from starting to cook and tenderize.
Forth Stepr: After 30-45 seconds, take your hen out to check the process. Pull a few feathers to see if they come loose quickly. If they do, you can move on to step five. But if the feathers tug at the skin too much, the chicken needs another dunking. The reason you don’t want the feathers to tug is that it prevents the skin from breaking. Your hen will be processed beautifully when properly scalded.
Fifth Step: With your chickens scalded, the next step is optional. Some people prefer to soak their hens in an ice bath for another 15 seconds or so. The ice bath stops your hens from cooking and prevents bacteria from settling into the skin.
Sixth Step: Now, you are ready to pluck your chickens. There are a few different ways to do this that we have outlined below.
Plucking Chicken Feathers By Hand
The traditional way of plucking chicken feathers is by hand. If you have scalded your chicken, this process is quick and straightforward. All you need to do is hang our chicken upside down and start from the wings. Gently pull a few feathers out at a time. Never pull fist fulls of feathers if you want to keep the skin intact.
The best defeathering tips when plucking a chicken is to pull in a methodic direction. You will always want to pluck the feathers by pulling in the opposite direction of the bones. This method keeps the skin from tears and pulling away from the meat.
Chicken Feather Removal Machine
Another way to defeathering chickens is to use a chicken feather removal machine. These machines are electric-powered and have silicone or natural rubber “fingers” to pull the feathers away gently. After scalding a chicken or two, you can put them in these machines to defeather within a few minutes.
These machines are not necessary but useful if you have a large number of chickens to process. If you put two chickens in the device, you could get them done in two minutes flat. And if your time is money, this is worth the price.
How To Pluck A Chicken Without Scalding
The last way to defeathering chickens is by dry plucking. For some, it’s almost impossible to get a large tub of hot water without wasting time. These people are better off dry plucking chickens rather than scalding.
But don’t be fooled into thinking this method is easier. It will take a lot of time and effort to remove all of the feathers. But the good news is that you won’t need any tools to get this job done.
To begin this process, you need to start with a freshly butchered chicken. The longer you wait before plucking a chicken, the harder the feathers get. So it is best to move straight from killing the chicken to defeathering. Hang your chicken upside down and start with the wings.
When dry plucking a chicken, the wings will be the most challenging part. Starting with the wings allows for the skin to be more pliable and makes feather removal easier. Working in the same motions, you should pull the feathers away from the bone, going with the cuticle’s grains.
How To Remove Pin Feathers
Now we are going to talk about defeathering tips when plucking a chicken with lots of pin feathers. Pin feathers are new growth coming in that are thicker and often very hard to pull. Besides the wings, pin feathers can be the most difficult to remove. So how do you overcome these pesky feathers?
If you have scalded your chicken already, go ahead and give them another dip in the hot water bath. You won’t need long, only an extra 10-20 seconds to loosen the feathers, and don’t dip it in the cold water afterward. Then using one hand to hold the skin, use your other to pull the feather firmly. You will also want to pull in the opposite direction of the cuticle. This should make plucking a chicken with pin feathers easier.
But if you didn’t scald your chickens first, this will make it a little more complicated. The best way of pulling these pin feathers is to scald them to some degree. If you dry plucked your hen, you might want to warm a pot of water on the stove to about 180 degrees. Pouring this hot water over the pin feathers gives you the same effects.
How To Remove Chicken Hair Before Cooking
What’s worse than pin feathers? Chicken hair that seems impossible to remove by hand. If you have ever seen these hairs, you might have tried painstakingly to remove them one by one. And you also know that this isn’t the easiest way to do this. So what should you do instead?
The best way to remove chicken hair is to sear it off. You can do this in a few ways. Some people like to use a Creme Brulee torch to remove any hair left on the chicken. Or, if you have a gas stove, you could use the open flame to burn off any hair.
After you have singed the hair off, there might be a few scorch marks. That’s ok, and it’s not permanent. All you need to do is take a paper towel with a bit of olive oil and rub off any marks. Any burnt marks will come right off, and you can continue to cook them.
But you don’t necessarily have to remove the hair if you don’t want to. Most people don’t notice any hair once the chicken is cooked through. If you plan to BBQ or broil your chicken at all, it will naturally scorch off the hair without any added work.
How Long Does It Take To Pluck A Chicken?
When learning how to pluck feathers from a dead bird, you might wonder what’s the fastest way. The fastest chicken plucker in the world is Ernest G. Hausen, who could pluck a chicken in 4.4 seconds. You will probably never be that fast. But some methods are obviously faster than others.
You can make your job a little easier with scalding, and it could take as little as 2 minutes. If you use a feather removal machine, you could finish in as little as 30 seconds. However, this doesn’t take into account the time to warm water and scald your chickens first. But it’s still a lot faster than dry plucking, which can take hours for one bird.
Which Method Do You Prefer?
We hope that you feel more comfortable with these defeathering tips when plucking a chicken! Plucking a chicken isn’t as tasking as it might sound at first. And after you have processed a few, you will get the hang of it. You might even find that one method works best for you that isn’t as popular with other chicken owners. Which method do you use?
Below is a Pinterest friendly photo…. so you can pin it to your Backyard Chicken Board!!