Thanksgiving Turkeys: Butchering Time

First off let me say sorry for the lack of posting this month, I started a new job and have been busy with the transition. So with that said , this weekend we needed to get started butchering the turkeys we started growing out in March.


I was concerned that the turkeys would be too big for the chicken plucker to work effectively, and at first there were some issues. My dad and I were able to rework the idler pulley to get some more tension on the belt and it seems to have solved any problems.  I also started trimming the wing feathers down a bit just for some extra room in the drum.   Here’s how we worked it!

The work areas were the first order of business, we set up 2 propane burners to heat the water and got a medium sized washtub to dunk the birds in , since they wouldn’t fit in the pot like the chickens did.

boilers Thanksgiving Turkeys: Butchering Time

The Dunk Station


And of course the star of the show, the whizbang chicken plucker, this thing has already paid for itself !  Im kidding actual but it does make short work of plucking… you just have to get you water temps right and not over heat the birds.

mightyplucker Thanksgiving Turkeys: Butchering Time

The Mighty Whizbang!


The butchering takes place on a white fold up table, nothing really special here , we put it up on blocks so its a little higher and a little easier on yer back!

cleaning Thanksgiving Turkeys: Butchering Time

The Cleaning Table


Lets get to it!

The actual process goes alot quicker now with the plucker, we didn’t time it but I think from bleeding to bagging probably takes about 30 minutes per bird.

We pick the turkey and bring them to the bleeding station, which is the tractor with the bale spear attachment, we hang the bird off that.

turkey Thanksgiving Turkeys: Butchering Time

The Chosen One


The turkey gets bled and hangs for a few minutes, the we take it to the hot water dunk!

bledout Thanksgiving Turkeys: Butchering Time

Bled and ready to dunk.


afterplucker Thanksgiving Turkeys: Butchering Time

After being plucked


After the plucking comes the gutting and bagging, we got some shrink bags that work great. Just put the bird in , tie it off and dunk in hot water, the bag does all the work.

cleaned Thanksgiving Turkeys: Butchering Time

Gutted and cleaned, ready for bagging.


shrinkbag Thanksgiving Turkeys: Butchering Time

Bagged and ready for the freezer.


Well there you have it, almost a step by step guide. Stay tuned for more!





The Chicken Plucker Chronicles:Down to Business!

After the chicken plucker was built and the broiler chickens grew to the correct size it was time for the inevitable, the day we all knew would come, Time for the Butchering.

We stared early getting hot water ready for the scalding, getting the ice buckets ready , sharpening knives.  The kids would be the catchers, they would go in the pen and get two or three broilers at a time and truss up the feet.  After they trussed up, we hung them upside down from the hay spear on the tractor, it was adjustable for height so it worked perfectly.  Jason supervised the kill/bleed station with the kids right there,helping out.

bleedcrew The Chicken Plucker Chronicles:Down to Business!

My bro-in-law Jason ,Gavin on the right, Brendan and Julie on the left.

All the kids were present during the kill phase, they know where their food comes from, and they are great helpers.

killarea1 The Chicken Plucker Chronicles:Down to Business!

They hang for a bit to assure good drainage

We don’t use the kill cones, mainly because we don’t have any,and this method worked out well.

So after hanging for a few minutes its over to the scald tanks, we use the propane cookers with the aluminum pots you can get anywhere.

On the first two we had the water too hot and we dunked for too long and here was the result. Don’t worry they didn’t go to waste, they were chopped up and fed to the dogs for dinner, they loved it!

dunktank The Chicken Plucker Chronicles:Down to Business!

into the scalder with the dunk stick

pluckaction The Chicken Plucker Chronicles:Down to Business!

Round and round she goes!

toohot The Chicken Plucker Chronicles:Down to Business!

This poor thing stay in the scalder too long.

After this we adjusted our times and thing started to work lots better.  The key was about three to four seconds in the water and then too the plucker.

rootest The Chicken Plucker Chronicles:Down to Business!

After shorter scald time, that's me and Julie is in the foreground.

roobest The Chicken Plucker Chronicles:Down to Business!

This was not a broiler btw it was an extra red rooster we had

After the plucking the chickens were sent to the gut and clean table run by Mom and Pops, they had the job of cleaning any feathers that were left, and gutting, then into the cold water bath and finally the bagging and into the cooler.

popsanem The Chicken Plucker Chronicles:Down to Business!

Here is pops with the gang.

mom and brendan The Chicken Plucker Chronicles:Down to Business!

Mom and Brendan

so there you have it , we got thru 25 broilers in a little over 3 hrs , the plucker makes all the difference, if we had to hand pluck we would still be there with ‘em.


Stay tuned , the turkeys are next!



The Chicken Plucker Chronicles: Final Chapter

Well it is complete, except for the paint, but that will happen soon, the mechanical operation is done!

Overall the plans were easy to follow and the build was easy enough, installing the fingers was a real booger though!  I took about a 6 weeks of off and on work, If  you were a determined plucker builder you could most likely do it much faster.

As the plans say , you can add custom touches if you want, I took some liberty with the idler pulley bracket and fabbed it up out of son angle iron. Otherwise I followed the plans pretty close. Oh I also used the whole bottom half of the tub instead of cutting off the bottom, I’ll see if the feather build up is a problem with this style bottom.

Anyway on to the pix!

cpfront The Chicken Plucker Chronicles: Final Chapter

Chicken Plucker Front View

I mounted the switch on the front , opposite side of the motor, I had a six foot cable so that’s where it ended up.  The switch box is sealed to stay dry and hopefully keep me from killin myself!

cpback The Chicken Plucker Chronicles: Final Chapter

Chicken Plucker Back View

cptop The Chicken Plucker Chronicles: Final Chapter

Chicken Plucker Top View

cpbottom The Chicken Plucker Chronicles: Final Chapter

Chicken Plucker Bottom View

I still need to clip the extra cable, also a view of the idler pulley bracket.

cpidler The Chicken Plucker Chronicles: Final Chapter

Close up of Idler Pulley

So there you have it , the whole shebang set up.  The meat chickens are almost done so they will be the first ones to test the new plucker, as always we will keep you updated.


P.S. Here is a video of the start up of the plucker.



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Our Poultry Fountain

Bear with me for a moment , The Chicken Plucker will return soon, It’s in the final stages and just needs the finishing touches, and the drive belt of course.    Until then I have another Poultry Project to show you, this one is an auto filling poultry fountain.

After filling the turkey water up twice a day for two weeks now we realized there has to be a better way, so a quick search on the interwebs brought these little gems to our front door.

fountain Our Poultry Fountain

Poultry Auto Waterer

The Idea I had was a stand alone model that could be mobile as opposed to fixed inside the chicken house, here is what I came up with.

First off the plan in my head was to have a PVC framework over the bowl and to have the drinking bowl a little higher off the ground than a normal waterer, to keep the water as clean as possible.  I dug through all of my PVC fittings , and came up with the following model.

partslist Our Poultry Fountain

The parts needed for the frame.

I did have to buy the 4 way cross PVC fitting, I’m using 3/4 inch pipe by the way and glued up a 3/4 to half inch threaded fitting to attach to the fountain parts.

dryfit Our Poultry Fountain

The four way cross with the 1/2 inch adapter.

Once I was sure the side pipes would clear the bowl I was ready to glue up the 90 degree elbows for the main frame down pipes.

1stglue Our Poultry Fountain

Starting to glue up the pieces.

Next I cut the side posts and prepped to attach the feet to keep the whole mess upright.

framecomplete1 Our Poultry Fountain

The side posts with the tee fittings attached

wfeet Our Poultry Fountain

The completed frame with the feet

I used 45 degree fittings to get the feet to turn out , just adds another level of stability to it, I hope it will stand up to 25 Turkeys.


alldone Our Poultry Fountain

Here it is , all done.

The black hose is a washing machine hose, I have about ten of these laying around, It connects to a brass fitting threaded for 3/4 MH x 1/2 MIP , the brass fitting threaded into a 3/4 down to 1/2 inch thread bushing glued into the top of the 4 way cross fitting.  Don’t forget to use plumbers tape or pipe dope on any threaded fittings, you save yourself a million headaches down the road.  Don’t ask me how I know!

I hooked it up and pressure tested it after the glue sat a while and it all looked good. Next test is to see if the turkeys can destroy it.  I’ll keep you posted!



The Chicken Plucker Chronicles Pt.3

Lemme tell ya , its been busy around this place for the last few weeks, please forgive the lack of posting on my part. The garden has about gone dry and i’m goin broke trying to water it, but that is for another blog!  On to the chicken plucker update!!!

Frame Complete!

I finally got the frame all done with the help of my dad Pops, that’s what the grand kids call him anyway. Pops was able to supply the needed extra hands and mechanical know-how to wrap up the frame and he’s probably gonna help finish it off the rest of the way too.

framecomplete The Chicken Plucker Chronicles Pt.3

Here is the completed frame, this thing should withstand a hurricane, it is built like the brick you know what!  In the background you can see the tube and feather plate waiting to be assembled and put in the frame.

The tub needs all the holes drilled and the fingers installed into that part, but the feather plate and shaft are connected and ready to put in.

bearingboards The Chicken Plucker Chronicles Pt.3

The cross members are installed and the pillow bearings mounted.

bearings1 The Chicken Plucker Chronicles Pt.3

Here are the bearings these jokers are heavy and built solid, they should last the life of the plucker or better, they have a grease fitting built in so easy maintenance is in order.

shaftin The Chicken Plucker Chronicles Pt.3

Here you can see the shaft where it comes out the bottom, the bearings are holding it above the bottom board.

The electric motor will be mounted on the center of the board its on, that was just for illustration purposes.  The manual you see in the upper right of the photo is invaluable, I have referenced it many time, don’t try this without it!tubcomplete The Chicken Plucker Chronicles Pt.3

Here is a better view of the tub finger pattern, we used a step drill bit to open the holes to the right size after a pilot hole was drilled, this step took a while but it turned out well.

I think the tough part of the build is over, the frame was time consuming due to the measurements and fitting,  Pulling the plucker fingers thru the holes is a nightmare, use the warm soapy water to give a little extra slide to em, and then just stay with it it won’t go on forever!  lol

So next on the agenda is to mount and wire the motor and set the drive pulleys and test it out, I’ll keep you posted!   Hope we get some rain soon!




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The Chicken Plucker Chronicles Pt.2

I started the chicken plucker last week and made some progress, its slow going, I have a million and one things going on around here.

The Tub

I had a plastic food grade drum around that we were going to use for a rainwater system, but it lost out to the chicken plucker operation.  After reading the how to manual about three times I got the nerve up to start carving on the plastic beast, It went way easier than I thought.

cptub The Chicken Plucker Chronicles Pt.2

Ok, I forgot to take the before picture, It's cut already

cptubtools The Chicken Plucker Chronicles Pt.2

Here are the tools I used for the cut.

I Built me a marking jig out of some pvc pipe and a permanent marker, I needed to scribe my cut line around the barrel in a smooth and even fashion!

markertool The Chicken Plucker Chronicles Pt.2

My nifty marker tool

I set this up right next to the barrel and turned slowly and evenly, I was rewarded with a fairly smooth line all the way around the circumference…I never thought I’d use that word again out of school, just goes to show ya!

Unfortunately, I didn’t get a pic of the line so take my word, it was smooth and relatively free of waves and wobbles, But here is how it looked after the cut!

demotool The Chicken Plucker Chronicles Pt.2

This is how it lined up.

Next using a hand saw, regular old crosscut saw , I made the cut and whammo, two haves of the drum.

cptubcut The Chicken Plucker Chronicles Pt.2

See Two Pieces

I still need to drill the hole in the bottom for the shaft opening and all the holes for the plucker fingers that go around the side of the tub, but that’s for another day.


The Frame

The frame is made of 2 x 4′s and 2x 6 lumber, most of which I had laying around the place, with the help of my trusty chop saw I got right down to cutting the lumber as prescribed in the manual, I used the same size drum as in the book so all the measurements were all laid out.

workspace1 The Chicken Plucker Chronicles Pt.2

Here is the cutting in progress!

You need four of each measured piece so there are alot of cuts, but after all that we are ready to assemble the frame!

First I set down two long side pieces and two cross members and they are secured with screws, the finish side looks like so.

completeside The Chicken Plucker Chronicles Pt.2

A Complete Side

Repeat this process and you have two of these , which will be connected by four other cross members and you have the whole frame, here I’ll summerise with some photos.

2completesides The Chicken Plucker Chronicles Pt.2

Two sides, ready to be joined

fullframe The Chicken Plucker Chronicles Pt.2

Two more cross members and three sides are down.

Now the final side and a complete, frame for the chicken plucker.

completeframe The Chicken Plucker Chronicles Pt.2

There you have, it all four sides

Next will be connecting the 2 x 6 around the bottom of the frame to mount the pillow bearings and the electric motor, but that is for another day!



The Chicken Plucker Chronicles Pt. 1

After butchering a few chickens in the past we have all just about given up on the idea of an easy way to pluck a chicken, but along comes the internet and the story of the “whizbang chicken plucker” . I read Mr. Kimball’s story and decided that is the contraption we needed!

A quick Youtube video later and the whole clan was all for the idea. Mom forked up the cash for the “whole Shebang” package and the adventure began!  last week the package came via the boys in brown and we were on the way to plucking paradise.

shebang The Chicken Plucker Chronicles Pt. 1

The Whole Shebang Package

Here was the package still in the wrapping, I was like a kid at Christmas. The kit also included the booklet “Anyone Can Build A Tub-Style Mechanical Chicken Plucker” written By Mr. Herrick Kimball himself.  The book is an instruction manual as well as a helpful hint guide.

Now for the parts breakdown.

plateshaft The Chicken Plucker Chronicles Pt. 1

Feather Plate and Shaft

The feather plate holds the rubber plucking fingers and is the main component of the plucker, this is where the rubber meets the chicken as it were. The feather plate is connected to the shaft by three bolts. The shaft is a monster at 1 inch in diameter. The workmanship on both of these parts is superb.

fingers The Chicken Plucker Chronicles Pt. 1

Rubber Plucking Fingers

The fingers are the worker bees of the machine, they grip the feathers and pluck away. There are 125 included in the kit, they go on the feather plate and around the tub to give the chicken something to rub against.

pillowbearings The Chicken Plucker Chronicles Pt. 1

Pillow Bearings

The pillow bearings hold the shaft and and allow it to rotate smoothly , they are well built and heavy with grease fittings built in for long life.

drivenshaft The Chicken Plucker Chronicles Pt. 1

Driven Pulley

The driven pulley is mounted on the shaft that connects to the feather plate, it is huge and heavy, it is around 16 inches , by adjusting the size of the pulleys you can adjust the rpm of the feather plate. It is driven with a v belt not included in the kit, you can pick these up at any auto parts store. The stickers are included in the kit.

idler The Chicken Plucker Chronicles Pt. 1

Idler Pulley Setup

The last part included in the kit is the idler pulley kit, this keeps tension on the belt so it doesn’t come out of the pulleys.

So that is the Shebang kit, i will supply the electric motor, the tub and the frame to hold it all together along with all the hardware and wiring for the plucker, but that will be in the chronicles part 2.

So until then, happy farming!!


pixel The Chicken Plucker Chronicles Pt. 1

Comments (4)