We have used a variety of homemade equipment for several years. Today we remembered why we were upgrading away from it.
We use transport boxes and kill cones we got from this APPPA article. The transport boxes are great. I cut them out and my then 10 year old son assembled them. I probably need more than 10 but where do you store empty boxes when they are not in use? When we were much smaller we used a wagon to tote the boxes around.
The cones listed in the link above could be better. I won’t say they were awful but they aren’t great. They served their purpose for two years but needed a lot of attention along the way. $35 seemed like a lot of money for a cone but I now believe it is worth the it.
We have been using a turkey fryer or the side burner on our old hand-me-down grill to keep our scald water hot. This could be better. Normally we also keep several pots of boiling water on the stove so we can replenish the water when it cools down. Cool water leads to an incomplete scald and and unhappy Steward pulling wing and tail feathers with a pliers.
Then we move to the Whizbang plucker. Really, this isn’t a bad little unit and can be used to amaze your friends but it’s not good for more than 20 birds at a time. After about 20 birds you need to move it away from the pile of feathers or the mass of feathers will knock the belt off the drive pulley. This gets old when you are trying to process 150 birds. A belt tensioner would be a good addition.
We got a stainless steel table from some friends. It is awesome and will continue to be a part of our process. However, Mrs. Steward’s back gets sore eviscerating chickens at this table all morning. She wants to move to hanging shackles. Hanging shackles it is.
We needed to find an upgrade solution that was a good value and met our current and near-term production needs. I am not processing 400 chickens/hour. I just need equipment appropriate to keep three adults and a child or two busy for a couple of hours in the morning. Something that will get about 80% of our capacity so we don’t kill ourselves. We are going with a package from Featherman Equipment. After today’s fiasco I can’t wait for it to get here. It should arrive Tuesday. We don’t plan to process until Saturday…if we can wait that long.
I would like to add that we weren’t even considering Featherman Equipment until we met with David (the owner) at a recent conference. His price, quality and proximity all favored his product. Plus, the videos he put on Youtube years ago showed us everything that the books couldn’t quite describe. The videos alone make him a hero in our book. His prices put him over the top.