Anyone who has plucked a chicken by hand knows just how tiresome the process can be.
Enter the chicken plucker – a machine that transforms the painstakingly dull and messy task of plucking a chicken into a much simpler, quicker process.
In this article we take a look at the 5 best chicken pluckers.
All the following models can be counted on for their reliability and clean defeathering. The difference lies with some being better suited for different budgets, speed, processing volume, and ease of cleaning.
5 Best Chicken Pluckers
Yardbird 21833 – Best Overall
The Yardbird 21833 transforms the painstakingly dull and messy task of plucking a chicken into a much simpler, quicker process.
It can often be difficult for machine pluckers to get the defeathering process just right. A plucker needs to strike just the right balance between plucking without missing any feathers and being soft enough to not tear the skin.
Yardbird managed to find this balance with its 1.5 HP motor and 100 rubber fingers – that at 300 RPM is able to cleanly defeather in as little as 15 seconds. This includes defeathering a single large bird or multiple smaller birds at a time thanks to the drum measuring a generous 20 inches in diameter.
Because plucking sure can be messy Yardbird were smart enough to include an integrated irrigation ring that connects to a standard garden hose connector for hands-free flushing. This is a terrific feature that isn’t necessarily found on more expensive models., so to see it on th Yardbird at its price point is a big selling point. There is also a feather chute that deposits feathers into a bucket beneath.
There’s very little to complain about but if we had it all our own way, we would put the power switch in a more visible location.
One other thing worth mentioning is that the Yardbird 21833 is a good choice if you need a plucker that can easily be moved around thanks to the wheels that smoothly roll across rough terrain.
KITCHENER FP100 Stainless Steel Chicken Plucker – Also Great
The Kitchener FP100 is another good option to consider. Its similar to the Yardbird in several aspects but is priced slightly cheaper.
With 92 fingers and a 1.2 HP motor operating at 280 RPM it takes 15-30 seconds to completely pluck a bird. Its tub also measures 20 inches in diameter, allowing you to process more than 1 bird at a time.
Wheels can also be found on the bottom of the plucker for easy transportation, and its easy disassembly allows for simple cleaning.
While the Kitchener FP100 is certainly a great plucker that you can’t go wrong with, we would still recommend picking the Yardbird 21833 over it due to its faster plucking time and built-in irrigation system.
Having said that, if you’re looking to spend a little less, want a plucker that is quieter and perhaps a bit sturdier, the Kitchener may be the better choice.
VEVOR Stainless Steel Chicken Plucker – Most Powerful/Fastest
With a 2 HP motor the Vevor Plucker is the most powerful model in its price range, and contains more fingers that any other – 56 on the barrel, 50 on the chassis. It is therefore able to pluck a chicken at a remarkably fast rate – just 10 seconds.
It features a 20-inch tub, so you can pluck more than one chicken at a time too.
This plucker is easier to transport than any other thanks to its 4 wheels that can handle all kinds of terrain. It is also easy to clean as the machine connects directly with your hose and water supply.
If you want an even larger and more powerful plucker that can accommodate more birds, Vevor also manufacture a more powerful option. It has a 23.5-inch tub to accommodate 4-6 chickens at a time, and a 3 HP motor.
Josas Chicken Plucker – Budget Pick
If you’re happy to use your own drill and do a bit of handywork the Josas Chicken Plucker is your best option.
There is a bit of a learning curve, and you will need to use a drill and a solid platform, but the cost in savings compared to fully fledged, self-contained chicken pluckers will be worth it to some.
The downside, of course, is that it takes longer to defeather a chicken (30-60 seconds), and it does not do it quite as well as other units. You can only do one at a time, and things can also get messy fast.
Still, if you’re not willing to spend a few hundred dollars on other options and want an alternative to hand plucking, the Josas 24 finger plucker is your best bet.
EZPLUCKER EZ-151 – Largest/Best for Commercial Use
The EZPLUCKER EZ-151 is a bit of a beast, weighing 145 pounds. If you need a plucker with a large tub (23 inches), and want to defeather a bird clean very quickly, look no further.
With more fingers than any other (129), and a 1 HP motor that operates at a whopping 1,700 RPM for very fast plucking (10-30 seconds), the EZ-151 is a firm favorite when processing volume and speed matters.
The machine is sure to last a lifetime thanks to its very rugged construction, contains 4 wheels to make it easy to move, and is also easy to clean.
A great option in particular for commercial operations.
Who Should Buy a Chicken Plucker?
If you need to pluck many chickens a year or at a time, and especially if you’re running a commercial operation, however small, then buying a top chicken plucker is a no-brainer.
Even if you’re not on that scale and raise chickens as more of a hobby, when you consider plucking a chicken can be very labor intensive, tiring, and take up to 30 minutes to pluck just one chicken, buying a plucker can still be a smart choice. In fact, it’s hobbyists that are the largest consumers of chicken pluckers.
Important Features to Consider
The size of a chicken plucker should be relative to the number of chickens or birds you plan to process.
A 20-inch tub tends to be standard. It will allow you to pluck a couple of chickens at a time, or one very large bird. 23-inch and beyond tubs enable you to pluck several at a time but start at higher prices. For most people, especially hobbyists, a 20-inch tub will suffice.
As a rough guideline, if you process:
More than 100 birds at a time, select a 35” plucker
Fewer than 100 birds at a time or 75-100 a year, select a 27” plucker
50 birds at a time, go for a 23” plucker
Fewer than 50 birds, select a 20” plucker
Plucker to Scaler Size
It’s a good idea to match a plucker to the size of the scalder. If there is a mismatch it’s best for the plucker to be smaller than the scalder.
Stainless steel is generally the best, especially if it is heavy gauge. However, plastic is also fine as long as it is heavy, food grade plastic. You can’t go wrong with a plucker from a reputable brand and a model listed on this page.
If you make money from your chickens be willing to pay a little more. Think of it as a capital investment that will give you a better return. A more expensive plucker will generally last a very, very long time if not a lifetime, maximize efficiency, quality and ultimately profit.
If you raise chickens as more of a hobby or are plucking only a few birds a year, you can get away with lowering your budget.
Before buying a plucker be sure that you know its power requirements. A plucker designed for the American market should come as 110v as standard. However, if importing the plucker may only work on 220v. Other manufacturers allow you to switch and use either.
The horsepower of the motor and RPMs is another aspect to consider. The higher these numbers, especially the latter, the faster a chicken will be plucked.
There’s more than just the number of fingers to consider. While the number of fingers is important because it will reduce plucking time, the fingers also need to be stiff enough to do a good enough job of plucking without missing any feathers. They also need to be soft enough to not tear the skin.
Plucking chickens can be messy business. The best chicken pluckers allow for quick and simple flushing of plucked feathers, and easy to remove parts to make cleaning easier.
Chicken pluckers are much faster than trying to pluck a chicken by hand. There are differences in how long one machine may take to pluck a chicken compared to another, though.
If you’re running a commercial operation or pluck a large number of chickens at a time, the speed of plucking is likely to be very important to you. If not, you probably won’t mind the additional 20-30 seconds it may take.
Some pluckers come with wheels and can be easily moved around. Others don’t which makes them much more difficult to move once set up. These things can weigh 150 lbs after all!
Think about if you will only pluck at a specific workstation or will be moving around.
Some chicken pluckers also allow you to scald your birds too; these are called combo units. Some people like to use one machine for both while others like to separate the process. Either way be prepared to pay more, sometimes significantly so, if you want a combo unit.
Can you pluck a chicken without scalding?
While you can pluck without scalding (or “dry pluck”) it’s easier to do so after scalding. It can take much longer and the result won’t be as good.
You’re likely to come across some stubborn feathers that will be very hard to remove without scalding too. This can result in inadvertent tearing of the skin.
In short, it’s not worth the hassle.
How hot does the water have to be to pluck a chicken?
Getting the scalding temperature right is key to a good pluck.
It’s recommended to set the scalder between 130-170 F. Many find that a temperature of around 145 F works best, though it’s a good idea to experiment until you find the temperature that works best for you.
It’s important to get the temperature right because overscalding starts to cook the skin, which then tears when you pluck. Underscalding makes it difficult to pluck as the feathers won’t be loose enough.
Chickens need to be scalded between 30 seconds and 2 minutes. You can tell when the chicken will be ready to pluck by pulling wing weathers. When they come out easily you’re ready to start plucking.
Why should I choose a machine over a hand plucker?
Plucking a chicken or two by hand is fine, but any more and you will need a machine powered plucker. With a machine, plucking a chicken can take as little as 10-30 seconds. Compare this to the labor intensive process of plucking by hand that can take anywhere between 5-30 minutes depending on experience. There aren’t any downsides either, considering that a chicken will be plucked clean.
Anyone who has used both will opt for a machine plucker every single time.