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 Post subject: Plucking or skinning?
PostPosted: Wed Aug 13, 2008 12:29 pm 
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Champion Bird
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Joined: Sun Mar 23, 2008 9:39 pm
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Location: Yarra Junction, Vic
In a previous thread in July, skinning rather than plucking was mentioned. I shall soon need to process some of my own birds, and am a little apprehensive because my arthritic fingers are not as efficient as they were. I'm also not enamoured of the wet feather smell when the body is dropped into hot water. Skinning sounds a possible solution.
Could someone tell me their methods/experience with skinning pls? (I don't have any experience with rabbits :lol: )
Second question: are silkie feathers easier or harder to pluck?

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 13, 2008 2:34 pm 
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Discerning Duck
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I generally find skinning easier - coming from a lifetime of being raised by a hunter of upland and waterfowl in the US.

If you want to keep the skin but avoid the harder parts of plucking then start plucking as soon as it's dead from the breast outward, lop off the wings at the joint and (outdoors!) singe off pinfeathers too hard to pull out. That or find a Helpful Male, hand him some pliars and let him do so on the theory he will be enjoying the dinner as well. This only works if you haven't married a squeemish city boy unfortunately... :rolls: When hunting birds, obviously we didn't carry around buckets to douse them in to aid in plucking, so you simply plucked and field-dressed them straight after the dog fetched them up.

To skin here is how I was shown: Remove head. Remove feet at knee joint trying to take tendons with you - you make a shallow cut around the area you feel the joint, rock the joint back and forth to work them loose and then take it away whole with the knife cutting the joint. Lay bird on it's back, pull out the wings firmly and cut at the elbow joints. (Upland game birds generally don't save the wings and with many chook breeds may not have enough meat to make them worth the trouble. Like feet the dogs enjoy them though and they're good 'toothbrushes' for them.) Taking ahold of the legs, flex them to dislocate the hip joints (listen for pop) till they flop. Pluck feathers from breastbone to bum in a line, then feel for the breastplate, where it dips into a V using a sharp small knife cut through the skin to open the bird up being careful not to push too hard and puncture organs. Use sharp pair of snips (easier than knife ime) to cut around the anus and pull out the guts starting with the intestines and pulling firmly but slowly out. I usually never got the lungs out with that so had to be sure to go back and get them, tey are pinkish-silvery-white along the ribs. From the neck, pull out windpipe etc. All guts are now out. From here, take ahold of the edge of the skin where you cut from the V to the bum and peel off skin and feathers with a slow but steady pressure - too much and thinner skinned birds can tear with surprising ease. From gut cavity peel up toward the backbone, then down over the thigh and once that's all loose upward over the neck cavity. If you're only doing one, now you can dress the carcass as you please - usually we pull off the breasts and clean up the leg/thigh, then use the carcass for soups, giving the dogs giblets/heart/liver/feet/necks/wings and burying guts and feathers/skin. If you've got more to do (or are in the field) then you just dip in cold water to get rid of any feathers or such, wipe dry with clean cloth and prop open the carcass cavity to cool while doing the rest or until you've got them home to butcher.

Oh, and I have no idea if silkie feathers would be easier to pluck than any other bantam size bird. I would GUESS that they'd probably be easier than a large bird by virtue of smaller pinfeathers but since the feathershaft itself is similar to other bantams and it's just the feather 'zips' that are silkie, I'd guess it akin to other similar size birds?

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 14, 2008 5:24 pm 
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Gallant Game
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I have always plucked ours, but then the (crispy roasted) skin is one of the best bits IMHO!

Silkies are a bit easier than other chooks - give them a good dunk in hot water and the down-like feathers almost rub off. Very little effort required.

Did a goose on the weekend. Now that was a LOT of plucking...

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 14, 2008 5:48 pm 
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Champion Bird
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Location: Yarra Junction, Vic
Thanks, Amanda - good helpful detail.
And Ben - a goose. Wow! The biggest thing I've ever plucked is a Muscovy drake. Thanks for the tip on silkies. I love the skin, too, but husband won't eat skin (or anything that isn't muscle meat. Sigh.)

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 19, 2008 6:20 pm 
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Gallant Game
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Location: Perth
lizzie4 wrote:
Thanks, Amanda - good helpful detail.
And Ben - a goose. Wow! The biggest thing I've ever plucked is a Muscovy drake. Thanks for the tip on silkies. I love the skin, too, but husband won't eat skin (or anything that isn't muscle meat. Sigh.)


More for you then!

The wing feathers are the hardest to pluck by far, so you could remove the last wing joint as there isn't much/anything edible there. We did that on the goose and muscovy (cross) drake we despatched the other week.

A goose is a lot of work, but sincve you get 4-5kg (dressed weight) from one bird...

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