How to Remove Pin Feathers on Ducks

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Pekin duck is the most popular recipe for preparing duck.
Pekin duck is the most popular recipe for preparing duck. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Ducks are among the most favorite food animals in the world with the United States consuming 3 million tons per year. Duck pinfeathers are feathers that have not grown all the way out. When ducks shed old feathers, pin feathers grow in to replace them and eventually grow into full feathers. This process continues every time old feathers are shed. Ducks are slaughtered when young as mature ducks tend to be tough and are used primarily in processed products. Once slaughtered, the pinfeathers need to be dealt with.

Things You'll Need

  • Sharp Knife
  • Latex gloves
  • Large pot of water
  • 1/2 to 3/4 lb. paraffin wax or cube of duck-picking wax
  • Dish soap
  • Butter knife
  • Tweezers
  • Blow torch

Skin the birds to remove all feathers and pinfeathers at once. Many commercial duck processors use this technique, but the process also removes the skin and duck fat just beneath the skin, depriving customers of those parts of the bird. To skin a duck, cut across the top part of the chest, grasp the skin and pull it downward. Skin the duck when it is warm, as it is more difficult to skin when cold.

Immerse ducks in boiling water to remove feathers and pinfeathers. Boil water in a large pot to about 145 degrees Fahrenheit or until it reaches the boiling point. Using latex gloves, dunk the bird in the boiling water a few times and allow it to cool to the touch. Start pulling feathers. Pull the feathers in the direction they grow to avoid tearing the skin.

Dry pluck the larger feathers from the duck without using water. Heat a large pot of water to approximately 160 degrees Fahrenheit. Melt a cube of duck-picking wax or 1/2 to 3/4 pound of canning paraffin wax in the water. (Some people add a squirt of dish soap to the water as well.) The melted wax floats on top of the water and adheres to the duck feathers as the duck is removed from the water. Leave the duck in the water for about 45 seconds, then lift the duck slowly from the scalding water so the wax has a chance to adhere to the feathers. Once removed from the water, allow the duck to cool for ten minutes on a flat surface outside the pot until the wax hardens. An alternative method is to dunk the waxed duck into a pot of cool water to harden the wax. Either method will work. Once the wax is completely hard, hold the cooled duck with latex gloves and pull the feathers off starting from the tail end to the neck. The wax peels off in big pieces taking the feathers with it.

Remove the more stubborn pinfeathers using a butter knife. When using a butter knife, grab a pinfeather between your thumb and the knife, and pull until the feather is removed.

Remove pinfeathers with tweezers. Grasp a pinfeather with a pair of tweezers and pull until the pinfeather comes free from the duck.

Singe pinfeathers off a duck with an available flame. A blow torch, propane torch, a branch from a campfire or a gas stove flame can be used to singe off pinfeathers.

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