Like my username implies, I'm a shochet (though I'm still in training), and I kill chickens.

One problem I have is getting the feathers off the chicken once they're dead. I know that I could buy or build a machine that would do that for me, but buying a machine is expensive, and building one myself would be exciting, but would take a lot of effort.

I've heard that some people dunk their chickens in hot water (which I'm told is called "scalding"), and the feathers just fall off by themselves; however, I can't do that because it creates issues with the kashrus (kosher-ness) of the chicken.

I could also skin them (which is what I've been doing up until now), but I'd rather not because it makes them harder to cook (easier to dry out etc).

What can I do to remove feathers from a deceased chicken?


  • Less effort than manual plucking
  • Free, or cheap
  • Does not involve the use of hot water
  • Leaves the skin on
  • This is a real question, but I'm not sure if anyone who's in the private beta will be able to answer :P ....I figured I'd give it a try, anyway.
    – Shokhet
    Dec 10, 2014 at 20:59
  • Do you need the feathers afterwards, or is it ok if they're damaged in the process? Dec 11, 2014 at 1:25
  • @AdamMiller I don't care if they're damaged in the process; I'm not keeping them ;-)
    – Shokhet
    Dec 11, 2014 at 1:31
  • 1
    This website recommends kitchen tweezers: koshereye.com/ask-the-kosher-carnivore/… Dec 11, 2014 at 3:01
  • Downvoter care to comment? ....I'm biased, but I think this is one of the highest quality questions I've seen so far on this site.
    – Shokhet
    Dec 11, 2014 at 17:09

5 Answers 5


This website recommends kitchen tweezers:

Upon getting it home, I carefully unwrap my bird and dry it off with paper towels. I then get out my tweezers and I pluck. It takes just a matter of minutes to go from unsightly feathers to clean–shaven.

  • I accepted the answer, even though I haven't tried it yet, because it sounds like it makes sense, and is probably a "hack." ;-) ....also, if that blog post was attempting to explain how to kosherize a chicken, they left out a lot of information. Thanks for the answer!
    – Shokhet
    Dec 14, 2014 at 4:20
  • I got the impression that it was more addressing the plucking while staying kosher. I'm not an expert on such things, though. Dec 14, 2014 at 14:34

I grew up on a chicken farm, so I know this. We had a boiler with wax. You melt lots of wax, dunk the chicken in it, then in cold water, repeat a few times till it's thick enough, then crack it open and voila! the feathers come off. Then you melt the feathery wax in another pot, sieve it and put it back in. Makes an immense mess, and is quite slow, but it does get all the feathers off in one go.

(We children loved it, we dared ourselves to make casts of our hands.)

  • I should add, we first had one of the plucking machines with rubber tubes, but after a few thousand chickens it broke. Also it made a huge mess, and didn't get all the feathers, so you had to finish by hand.
    – RedSonja
    Feb 26, 2015 at 9:01
  • 1
    Fastest of all was my mum plucking by hand. maybe you could get an industrious granny in to do it for you.
    – RedSonja
    Feb 26, 2015 at 9:03
  • +1, cuz that should work, but I can't apply heat before soaking and salting the chicken, so it won't work for me :(
    – Shokhet
    Feb 27, 2015 at 18:55

The automatic chicken pluckers you referenced are generally used in conjunction with scalding. I'm not sure how well they'll work without scalding, but I knew a friend who got by with the following set up:

  • Scald (maybe optional?)
  • Use a homemade plucker hacked together from a corded drill, a 4" PVC pipe, and 4 of the rubber fingers used in the automatic pluckers.

The homemade plucker was assembled by drilling 4 holes at 90° each around the circumference of a short length of 4" diameter PVC. The rubber fingers were inserted in these holes, to form an "x". Then it was attached a cap to one end with a bolt inserted through the center and chucked up the bolt in the drill. Then the drill can be zip tied to a table or bench, and the trigger can be zip-tied down to keep it running.

Be warned, it will send feathers flying EVERYWHERE!

You can see a souped up version of what he used in this picture:

enter image description here

(Image Source)

  • +1 I was planning, at one point or another, on building something similar, but putting the fingers on a cone that will rotate in the bottom of a plastic garbage can, to contain the feathers. I hadn't considered using a handheld drill, though; good to know that'll work.
    – Shokhet
    Feb 15, 2015 at 0:41

I also am a shochet. I have always taken off the skin in order to avoid the issue, but I was recently told a trick a hunter i know uses and that is to refrigerate the bird- get it down below 30F I understand the feathers come off very easily then- not as well as scalding but the skin doesn't tear...


There are papers from Israeli scientists who tested using cold water and found that good plucking (i.e. without the skin tearing) was attained at temperatures below 7 °C. You can read the paper here.

I don't know if kosher slaughter houses adopted this practice, but it would be interesting to find out.

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