So we have tried plucking and we have tried skinning and overall we have just fallen in love with skinning. It is so much faster and really the only thing we miss out on is the skin itself (and I have been considering doing a hybrid pluck/skin to have skin for the leg quarters. But there is the rub, it isn't that we don't know what to do with it (makes good compost apparently) but we would like to figure out if there is a way to render the skin to separate the grease for cooking, soap making, ect. It isn't as important for the chicken skins but if we decide to go this way with ducks and geese their grease is too valuable to waste.
So my question is this: will rendering the whole skin (feathers and all) taint the grease and make it taste bad? I need to research the method of doing so more but before I committed to experimentation I wanted to know if anyone had any experience. Only text I could find on the subject was a 1918 book on rendering penguin skin .
This doesn't answer your question at all, but I'd suggest buckling down and plucking the darn things. Dry plucking isn't terrible once you've got the hang of it, and a small-scale scalding setup is easy (and much quicker).
That said, hot wet feathers are anything but pleasantly aromatic, so I'd expect them to completely taint everything if you rendered the fat with them in the pan.
Dry plucking isn't that bad - on a chicken. For ducks and probably other waterfowl you simply can't get off all of their feathers without wax in a reasonable amount of time without skinning. Even with chickens if you do not use a small torch to singe off the "hairs" that male chickens can get you get an unappetizing looking bird. Add to that that we do not treat our birds with any chemicals which causes them to have the occasional mite on them (which we treat with DE but it isn't 100% effective) it is just so much easier to skin them.
I rather compost the skin than to spend 5 times as long to get a less appetizing looking bird just to be stubborn. Rather than composting it I am going to experiment with boiling it feathers and all (after it is well rinsed) to see what happens. Just have to wait until it is time for another culling.