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Building an automatic feather picker

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  • Building an automatic feather picker

    I need to build myself an automatic feather picker. I raise pastured chickens and turkeys for sale. New pickers are rather expensive ($1,725) and used ones are hard to find.

    I need a tub type picker because the tabletop models don't have the capacity I need.

    This link shows what I am trying to duplicate.

    I am considering using a taper bearing to support the shaft of the revolving floor of the tub with a second bearing at the bottom of the shaft in order to take the side load from the v-belt. The rpm should be about 250.

    I would like to use a gas lawn mower engine for the power source rather than using an electric motor. This is because the picker will be used occasionally on Amish farms where there is no access to electric power unless you run a generator.

    What rpm will a 3.5 HP Briggs & Stratton verticle shaft engine have to run in order to deliver at least 1/2 horse? What is the range of rpm at which this engine will operate ie idle to full throttle?

    Do you have any idea of the difference in price of 16 ga stainless and galvanized?

    Any input would be greatly appreciated.

  • #2

    When you select an engine you normally could look at engineering data that shows torque and horspower vs rpm. This would give you the an idea of actual hp produced at a particular rpm.

    I think for food products you may need to use stainless and of a minimum gauge. There is probably a spec/guide to support this.


    • #3
      You cannot use galvinized in contact with food.

      [This message has been edited by Thrud (edited 01-09-2003).]


      • #4
        What is the rational for not using galvanized steel in contact with food. I have seen it done before. I know that you aren't supposed to heat galvanized metal but if the process is cold what is the risk?


        • #5

          I've cleaned chickens before, and we used the table top feather plucker and it worked pretty cool. So, I know the birds are dead, but looking at your picture of the birds in the plucker I could swear they look like they are having a good time getting spun around.
          I would get a generator and try to keep it away from the chickens to keep the fumes away from the food. Besides you've probably been needing an excuse to buy a generator for years now you have one.
          Two jokes for you.
          How does a chicken add and subtract?
          With a cackelator.
          What goes clop clop bang, clop clop bang?
          Amish drive by shooting.

          I'm really glad you did this project the wife and I hope to farm someday and we'll need one of these.

          Good luck


          • #6
            Every component that touches or can touch a food product is required to be stainless for use with food products. Galvanized steel and regular steel are not considered sanitary, but stainless steel is. The galvanized coating can flake or wear off and contaminate the food. It also has to do with the level of cleanliness you can achieve with that material. You would need to meet the USDA/FDA requirements if you wanted to sell it for use on food, or sell any of the products that went thorugh it. Check their website for information on what is allowed.



            • #7
              I haven't built the feather picker yet. The link is to a website that I found yesterday. He used a design that is very similar to what I want to build.

              This past season I used a friend's feather picker but I don't want to continue borrowing his because of the hassles of scheduling and borrowing equipment. He runs his picker using a honda horizontal shaft engine. There aren't any problems with the fumes.

              I have a generator but I would prefer to not run it for powering the picker because I wish to run it only as needed in order to extend its working life.

              The other advantage of powering the feather picker with a gas motor is that the rpm can be fine tuned more easily.

              I while I wish to process in as sanitary manner as possible I am not concerned with FDA or USDA regulations regarding processing. As a poultry producer slaughtering the birds on the farm where they are grown the state of Indiana has a 2,000 bird exemption on inspection. Federal inspection is not required for processors who slaughter less than 20,000 birds. So as long as I don't process more than 2,000 birds I am free from regulation.

              Last year I butchered 175 chickens and 20 turkeys. This comming summer I will need to raise at least 500 chickens and 50 turkeys.


              • #8
                If you have concerns about stainless steel in contact with food products, check out where an egg comes from.
                Jim H.


                • #9

                  You definately have a point.

                  I am going to find out the price difference on galvanized and stainless before I make my decision.


                  • #10
                    Only chicken plucker I ever been around was the manual variety. We scalded them in a galvanized tub even.

                    Looking at that page I have a dumb question, how do they kill the chickens before scalding. They have the heads on them, what do they do just throw them in the scald and then in the picker live. They probably wrin the necks or cut them but I'm wondering.

                    Buddy of mine tells the story of his one armed aunt. He went to her house and she had heard that the sooner one can pluck a bird after it was killed the easier it was to do. So she just plucked this turkey alive, was an awful sight he said. What we wonder is how this one armed woman managed to do this with just one arm. When I say one arm that is all she has, no stub even on the other side, was yanked from it's socket when she was a young girl walking to school when it got caught by the suicide door handle of a 34 Ford.

                    Amazing how some people can overcome handicaps.

                    3hp Briggs should do fine, a long flex exaust should also work to get fumes away from operating area. ALA Maytag


                    • #11
                      Just a bit more.

                      Wouldn't need to run that briggs too fast to get needed power, but you are going to have to turn it decent RPM because it's air cooled and it needs the RPM to move the air.

                      I'd back it off a bit, but not much.

                      Problem with the galvanize is those holes for the fingers, everywhere the metal has been cut, rolled, welded, or bent the gavanize is going to be gone or disturbed. I don't see anything wrong with making out of plain steel and then hot dip galvinizing, but then stainless would be easier.

                      Plus, stainless is shiny, just ask Thrud.


                      • #12
                        How do you pluck chcken fast and with head on? Dad Raised chickens when I was in 8 th grade. Had a hook that looked like a W.
                        Feet went in hook, wings locked behind the back, head haning down. Had a tin can full of leadwith what looked like a fish hook- a big one and sharp with no barb. the hook wnet into mouth, into brain and cut some blood vessels. Blood ran into cup, grabbed feathers and striped the chicken, takes longer to write this than to do a chicken. Guts removed while hooked. I htink I have told every one more than they could possible want to know .

                        Despite all that blood and guts as a kid, One of the most sickening sight I ever saw was at a chicken dressing plant, chickens comming down an over head link belt, heads down, guts hanging out. Man standing wherethe belt took a 90 degree bend. his job was to flip the chicken and sling guts. Smell was bad, man was bloody to his feet, and that SOB was eating a sandwich as he flipped. made me sick to see a man working with justone hand and boss paying for both!!!!!


                        • #13
                          Doc Steve, you just described something I've been wondering about for a while. I looked at the ingredients list of some lunch meat once, and the first listing was "mechanically separated chicken" All I could think of was some pore ol' chicken going down a ramp with feet, legs, feathers and guts just flying everywhere with the chicken squawking like crazy. Can't eat lunch meat any more.

                          By the way, ain't this forum grand? We go from sharpening razor blades to milling abalone and chicken plucking without losing a step. What a place to learn things, Bobby


                          • #14
                            sorry to re-iterate Halfnut but he's right. Single cylinder air-cooled engines are designed to run at full rpm(3500-3600)only.This provides sufficient cooling air not to overheat and carbon the piston.Briggs and stratton made a 2 h.p. horiz.shaft engine for stationary pumps and small reel mowers.You should be able to find one used cheap.I would belt drive to reduce speed from engine to tub and use briggs "lo-tone" quiet muffler.And Mr. Hannum, you've got a valid point!Galvanize...Stainless...IT'S A CHICKEN!!


                            • #15
                              Seen the centrifuge (Mechanically de-boned) that Mcnuggets come out of - and I will still eat them as long as I have BBQ sauce. Have to have something to kill the taste of the grease. Same with "Mystery Meat" & "Tube Steaks" - as long as I don't get a beak, hoof, or finger in it - I am happy.

                              Stainless steel you can use two gauges lighter stock than regualr steel and get the same strength. If you will not go to stainless consider instead 1xxx series Aluminum (Pure) - this would be a better choice than the galvinized (which can have toxic metal in it).

                              You can purchase new VIRGIN Stainless steel drums 30 & 55 gallon size relatively cheap - this might be the way to go, then all you need to do is pop holes in it.

                              [This message has been edited by Thrud (edited 01-10-2003).]