Whizbang Chicken Plucker Makes Processing Chickens Much Easier

Learn how to build a chicken plucker, the Whizbang Chicken Plucker, and take the tedium out of processing meat chickens.

| 2011 Guide to Backyard Chickens

The Whizbang Chicken Plucker

The Whizbang Plucker is easy to build and plucks scalded chickens clean in seconds.

Illustration by Nate Skow

When deciding to raise chickens for meat, a number of considerations need to be made. “How many do we need?” “Where will they live?” “What will we feed them?” Perhaps the most difficult question in an aspiring poultry farmer’s future, though, is, “How will we process them?” When processing a chicken (or any other form of poultry, for that matter), the most difficult part, and often the most time consuming, involves feather removal. That's where the Whizbang Chicken Plucker comes in. Anyone who has plucked a bird or two knows just how much work this is – and it’s tedious work at that. Some time ago, I had a mind to fill my freezer with fresh poultry, but the prospect of plucking all those birds by hand struck me as daunting, if not impossible.

Fortunately, the mechanized feather plucker was invented decades ago. Several types are available, but the Cadillac of pluckers is the tub variety. These machines hold dozens of rubber plucking fingers. Some of these fingers are in the rotating “featherplate” at the bottom of the machine, and the rest are stationary in the tub surrounding it. After turning the machine on, all the operator needs to do is drop in a scalded bird carcass or two, wait about 15 seconds, and the birds will be clean. Having read about the plucking efficiency of these machines, I knew they were the answer I was looking for, but when I looked for machines, I was dismayed. The cheapest one was priced at more than $700.

Lucky find

Then I came across the Whizbang Chicken Plucker. This machine is a tub-style plucker, but with major advantages – you can build it yourself, and many of the parts are cheap or easily salvaged. Internet videos of the Whizbang in action were impressive, and reviews were entirely positive. After reading as many details about the machine as I could to see if it was feasible for me, I found no reason why I could not build it, so I ordered the instruction book.

When the book arrived, I was immediately impressed by its quality. Not only were the building instructions clear, they were also accompanied by helpful illustrations. Sections on safety, the author’s personal experiences, and poultry processing in general were included as well. Additionally, the book highlights information on alternate methods for building the plucker and where to find some of its vital parts. And to top it off, the book came autographed by author, illustrator and publisher Herrick Kimball.

Armed with the book, I set out to find the materials needed to build my machine. I needed an electric motor to power the plucker. Fortunately, I was able to scavenge a farm-duty motor from a long-abandoned grain auger. Since this had the potential to be my biggest individual expense, I was happy to eliminate that purchase entirely. The tub of the plucker is made from a section of a plastic barrel, and I was able to find a used barrel through an online classified website. The barrel came from a company that could use them only once before they had to dispose of them, so rather than throw the barrels away, they cleaned them and sold them cheaply.

The “featherplate” was the next hurdle. This disc had to be waterproof and sturdy enough to hold a pair of bouncing broilers. The book recommends a sheet of ¼-inch aluminum, and Kimball now sells high-density polyethylene prefabricated plates complete with a driveshaft. In the interest of economy, though, I decided to use a piece of ⅛-inch galvanized steel from a grain bin lid. Who knew bins could be the source of so many parts for a chicken plucker?

7/29/2016 3:23:16 AM

Can I ask if you can tell me how you made your chicken plucker machine so I can make one yourself I live in Sweden

2/28/2014 8:12:28 AM

We built one a couple of years ago. I wouldn't try processing my chickens without it ever again. Works great. We had an old motor from a junk piece of equipment, and we got the barrel from a local car wash. (They get their soap in them, and may give them away) We gave $5 for ours. We use a turkey fryer for a scalder, and with the thermometer that came with it, we can keep it at the perfect scalding temp. Someone we knew remodeled their kitchen, so we took the sink and part of the counter, built an under carrage on wheels for it, an adapter for a waterhose, and some pvc pipe for the drain. Set up the easy up canopy, and a couple of camp tables, and we have a complete outdoor butcher shop.

1/27/2011 7:16:39 AM

I built my plucker last spring and I have run over 100 chickens, ducks, and turkeys through it without any major problems. I find it invalueable in processing my chickens, ducks, and the occassional 30 pound turkey, it couldn't handle my 50 pound turkey though I guess I found its limit. This spring I am going to work on building the Whizbang Scalder. I have also made some money from my plucker with renting it out.

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