getting better at plucking (3 cheers for correct scald temperature!)


Flock Mistress
12 Years
Apr 20, 2007
Ontario, Canada
I processed 10 'red broilers' (meat-type NHRs, I believe?) this morning all by myself. It took 5 hrs including extensive setup and cleanup time, which is a lot better time than I was making last fall so clearly I am learning
I think that's about the most birds I'd want to have to do solo in one day, though.

I think I may be finally getting the hang of scalding to pluck. I still don't have a thermometer
but experimentation today has shown that if I get the water hot enough that I can *almost* not stand to put my hands in briefly to swish the fluff around so water penetrates to the bird's skin, and then leave the bird in there for a minute or so until the feathers rub fairly easily off the drumstick, then that is about right.

I had a couple that plucked really easily and thoroughly that way. I also had some scalded too cool that are sitting in the fridge with significant amounts of pinfeathers and small actual feathers on them
; and I had two apparently scalded too hot or too long or both, one of which started to peel a yellowish layer off all its skin and the other the skin ripped very badly and I ended up just skinning the carcass.

If anyone's curious, I believe the economics have worked out almost exactly equal to the CornishX I did last fall -- these birds ended up smaller (I would have liked to let them get bigger but we're leaving town next week) but ate correspondingly less food. So the cost per lb dressed weight worked out almost identical. (e.t.a. - and with the cost of supermarket chickens in Canada, it is still a bit cheaper than I would pay even on sale)

I had really wanted to let these grow out to an older age and see if they'd taste better than the CornishX, though. Oh well, next time.

Pat, with pretty much no free space left in the fridge right now
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Glad you posted this -- I've been wondering what the "red broiler" was. From Ideal? How old were they? Are you brining?
No, these are from a Canadian hatchery (Elmira, I think?) and I have no clue whether they correspond in any way to things sold as 'red broilers' anywhere else.

I am guessing meat-bred NHR because their coloring was exactly right for that, various shades of light to chestnut red with some black in the tail and primaries and some had black in the neck feathers too. It is concievable they have some CornishX blood in them somehow -- they are wider and breastier than any regular ol' chicken would be -- but it may also be that they are just bred for that shape. They look reasonably supermarket-chicken-esque when dressed, although not *super* well endowed in the white meat area.

These were 8 wks old and averaged 3.2 lbs dressed weight (that's with skin but without necks or giblets). Yah, I know, I should have let them get a lot bigger, but, our schedule changed and this was what worked out best, so I have some nice little fryers and BBQ type chickens instead. The 10 of them went through a little over 2 bags of feed (I believe these are 50lb bags - it's Purina, if that helps - but can't swear to it, as some things up here are sold in odd metric amounts)

I figure they're young enough I'm not brining them. I don't have the energy right now anyhow

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Oops, didn't think about your being in Canada, sorry.

We did some extra roos (RIR, BR) at 12 weeks and they were about the same size, so sounds like you got a pretty good amount of meat. They sure were tasty!

We did have a thermometer, and still had about the same skin problems you had. Thermometers don't help to estimate dunking times, unfortunately. Guess it will come with experience.
That's a lot of chickens to do by yourself....

I know...Once you start...your committed to finish....

I's all in correlating the heat of the water with how long you keep swishing.

I keep shaving off more time every time I process a few....At first I was adding time and then I asked someone on BYC if they had any advice and they said " It's all in the scalding temp"....They were right!!!....

Congrats on processing 10 at one time.... You certainly have to feel like you accomplished a lot today!!!!....
Congratulations on a job well done!

I find it helps to keep as many of the butchering tools & equipment together in one box between sessions, then it's not such a scavenger hunt to get everything set up. I also keep a master list taped inside a cupboard, so I remember everything I'll need to have before I start.

I use a meat thermometer to gauge the scalding water temp, you could use a candy thermometer too. Even the cheap ones do a pretty good job.

Please send us a link to the place where you got these birds, they sound nice. That's great that they got so big so quickly without eating too much. Besides their shape, how do they differ from the Cornish Xs, are they similar to the Freedom Rangers?
Enjoy all your well-deserved meals from your birds!
To the best of my knowledge they come from: Bonnie's Chick Hatchery Ltd - 18 Arthur Street North, Elmira, ON - 519-669-2561. which does not have a website. Our feedstore sells them as "Bonnie's Red Broilers". That's all I know, sorry!

I don't know how they compare to Freedom/Colored Rangers since, being in Canada, I've never been able to get any of those. Tho I'd sure like to try them. They have partially barred coloring, yes? These were plain NHR-colored. They had the very wide-set legs of a CornishX but not quite as heavy "bunchy" muscles as CornishX. They were not the most active critters in the world, they did jump around and play and flap and bicker some but largely they just sat there, not "sitting at the hog trough" like a CornishX would but more "sitting at the pen's mesh walls watching the world as if it were a tv". I wish I could have tried tractoring them, but, maybe next time.


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