Plucking chickens

I haven’t raised chickens for over 20 years but my grown kids convinced me to do it again so they could learn. We just finished butchering our first batch of 16 meat chickens. Is there an easy way to get out all those pin feathers? We don’t have a electric plucker & have to do it by hand. The birds are only 7 weeks old & still half naked but covered in pin feathers. We still have 33 more to do so we would appreciate any advice you could send our way.

Adell Struble
Aledo, Illinois

Be sure you scald your chickens long enough, and that the water remains hot enough. You want to scald long enough to loosen the feathers but not cause the skin to peel, too. The feathers should pull out very easily, leaving very few pin feathers. I don’t have a plucker, either, but I can pluck a chicken in about 10 minutes, pin feathers and all. I get the few pin feathers by pinching them between my knife blade and fingernail, then just pulling them on out. Then I pass the carcass over the flame on my gas stove or a small wood fire to singe off the hairs. — Jackie

Canning potatoes

Congratulations on your wedding! Is it OK to can white potatoes unpeeled? I typically can diced potatoes — not whole potatoes. There are nutrients lost when peels are discarded.

Lois Harper
Huntsville, Alabama

Thank you for your congratulations. Yes, you can home can white, unpeeled potatoes but the peels on larger potatoes are tougher, canned. I can up small russets, whole, then squeeze the potato out of the tough skins, like a grape. Of course, you can also eat them, too. — Jackie


  1. Unless you plan on cooking the chicken with skin on, you might consider skining the bird. I use a plucker for my birds, but my friend skins all his and prefers it.

  2. Hi Cindy, My husband uses his needle nose pliers to get those stubborn last quills. At first, I thought it was silly but I have to admit it really does work pretty good. It’s great that your kids want to know how and learn from you. You go girl!

  3. We have a burner from a turkey fryer. We put an old canner full of water on there and let it boil. It’s hooked up to propane. We always have hot water that way for dipping chickens. When I dunk the chickens I dunk them about 15 times up and down so the water gets under the feathers. Pull out the chicken and see how easy the tail feathers or wing feathers come out. If the feather pulls easily you are ready to pluck.

    We use pliers to pull any harder feathers. Also if you really have that many pin feathers let the birds grow another week or so to let those feathers become mature. You can pick up a live bird and run your hands backwards against the feathers to see how many pin feathers you are dealing with.

    And have fun while butchering! We have shared some of the funniest stories while plucking!!!

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