Early mechanized devices tackled mess of plucking feathers
In this 1625 painting ("The Cook" by Italian artist Bernardo Strozzi), a young woman has her work cut out for her as she dry-plucks a number of dead birds.
This gadget, patented in 1911, was titled by the inventor a "Machine for Picking Feathers from Fowls." As the hand-held machine was passed over the fowl's body, the toothed comb (7) raised the feathers that were then caught between two rollers (11 and 12) and pulled from the skin.
We rarely ate chicken ourselves, although I remember occasionally killing, scalding, plucking and cleaning a bird. By far, the worst part of the operation was plucking feathers. After many years, the odor of those wet feathers lingers in my memory.
This 1906 machine featured two metal fingers (Q and K) that worked on eccentrics and moved in such a way as to grasp the feathers in front of the funnel (R) into which they were sucked by a fan inside the housing. The arms of the toothed wheel (I) at lower right were tipped with rubber flaps against which the plucked bird could be manipulated to remove the down.
Invented in 1928, this machine consisted of two cylinders: a double-walled outside cylinder (A) and an inner one (G). Inside the cylinders is a large screw (L). A bird carcass was inserted at (D) and a vacuum was introduced into the outer cylinder. When the machine was started, the carcass moved along the turning screw and the feathers were lifted by the vacuum and protruded through holes in the inner cylinder. There they were caught between the saw-tooth edges (F) and (H) of the holes in the spinning inner cylinder and the inner wall of the stationary outer cylinder and yanked from the bird.