Grease everywhere!

Submitted by danny-o on 2/16/01. ( )

I need help with defatting my ducks. When I defat, I get grease/oil all over the feathers. Correct me if I am wrong, but I suspect that this is causing feathers to split. Is there an easy way to defat without getting grease on my feathers or do I just need to take more time on this step. I don't borax before I defat, as it seems to dry the fat and skin. Is there something I could put on the bird to keep the oil from penetrating the feathers. Maybe some spray or borax. Thanks for your help guys, it's priceless

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Greasy Feathers

This response submitted by George on 2/16/01. ( )

I get some mallards, blacks, and a few woodies off my wheel that look as if they've been Frenchfried. They're dripping in grease and theres enough residual goose butter on the deflector to gag a maggot. But I wash them, tumble them, and blow dry them. Haven't noticed any split feathers, split ends, nor dandruff. I don't have a clue as to what might be doing it to your birds. Could it be the tumbler?

Clean, clean, clean

This response submitted by Will on 2/17/01. ( )

I suspect it may be a cleanliness or residual grease problem. Wash in a good degreaser in tepid water, then rinse, rinse and rinse!

Hope that helps!


Either youare not getting the grease out

This response submitted by John C on 2/17/01. ( )

or you are leaving soap on the bird. Wash two or three times, then rinse until the water is clear and NOT CLOUDY. Then just for good measure, use fresh mineral spirits or gas. there could by crud in the m/s or gas thats fowling your bird.

I use fresh gas each time, it helps the bird by not regreasing it.

Comment to Dan-oh and Question for John C.

This response submitted by The Taxidermologist on 2/17/01. ( )

First I would question to detergent and concentration of detergent you are using as a possible cause of splitting the feathers. The feathers of the underwing on many birds are devoid of melanin (i.e. they are white), and structurally they are much weaker and the barbules do not hold the individual vanes of the feathers together as well. A high basic solution, while it is desirable for a thorough washing in a short amount of time, can dissolve the actual barbules on the weaker white feathers. If you use a clothes detergent like tide, it will over a longer period of time actually DISOLVE the entire feather. Only use as much dish detergent as is needed to work up a good suds, switch water if the suds disappear and re-soak in another batch, only using perhaps a teaspoon of ivory liquid (or dawn). And thorougly rince the bird.
Secondly, use a great deal of caution in wire wheeling the bird, especially around the edges. I keep a coffeecup of water containing a small amount of dish detergent and continuously water down the skin and feathers along the seam. The feathers should never get fat this way. Also change the newspaper below the wire wheel whenever any amount of fat begins to accumulate.
Thirdly, use an initial cut which will hide any slight leakage you may have until you get the hang of degreasing. I have used a side cut exclusively on almost all birds larger than a blackbird. The cut goes from under the wing close to the promimal end of the humerus through to the side to just in front of the tail. With some practice it is quite easy to wire the wings and legs this way and the filling of the breast is under greater control if you have not made a body of sufficient size, or like to modify the shape. The folded wings not only hides the seam, it hides slightly oily feathers if there is some.

To John C. and those that actually use an organic solvent for supposed degreasing - What do you do with the gas, mineral spirits, coleman fluid, etc., after it has been used once? About the only way to dispose of it legally is to either send it to a toxic waste dump, or burn it when starting a brush fire or bonfire (Greg Septon once told me he used the latter method)

The Taxidermologist


This response submitted by Tim Lynch on 2/18/01. ( )

As you are using the wheel to de-fat the bird, rub borax into the parts just wheeled. This will absorb some of that fat and keep it from running into the feathers. I then go over the skin a second time with the wheel and borax. Wash and rinse as above.

wash it later

This response submitted by Brent on 2/28/01. ( )

My birds look awful after I skin and flesh them. You'd think they'd been chewed up by rabid dogs and then left to rot for a few weeks. I don't really worry about getting them greasy at all. I flesh them down really good and rely on my washing to make up for it. I generally wash my birds first in a sink with dawn detergent for 30 minutes to an hour depending on the bird. Sometimes it takes 10-20 wash cycles to get them clean where the rinse water is crystal clear. I then soak them in coleman fuel for about 5-10 minutes while sloshing them around a few times.

After mounting over 500 birds I still haven't had one that was not 100 % clean and have never had one to "leak" grease later.


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