Killing a Chicken By ‘Muntjac’
If you keep chickens for meat or if you need to cull a chicken you obviously want to do it in the most humane way possible. There are sites offering advice that I think are, quite frankly, rubbish so this is how I handle killing a chicken.
I was ten years old when I killed my first bird and this is how I do mine. To do this task properly you have to be settled in your mind that you are able to carry it out, safe in the knowledge that how you apply the task is the proper and quickest way
Keep the Bird Calm and You Keep Calm
First take the bird quietly in the dark with a red lamp so as not to alarm the rest. Tuck the bird quietly under your arm as you are talking to the rest and close the door quietly. This calmness must be continued all the way through the process of killing a chicken so it’s best that you do this with no audience at all . Go into the coop quietly whistling softly or even talking this way the birds know its you and don’t all scream about flapping and upsetting everything.
Take the bird by the legs from the perch and pull it into your side by placing a hand around its body and cup its head in your hand. Walk out quietly and away from the coop up to the house so as not to cause any more disturbance to the rest of the birds and the household.
Killing a Chicken
Take your right hand and slide it under the birds butt and grasp its legs with the hand closed take the legs with the thumb pointing away from the body as this is a stronger grip
Placing the fingers and thumb of the left had over the chickens neck just above the head. The first 2 fingers ie index and second fingers, close over the head with the neck in between like a V. The thumb then comes over the head closing it into the palm taking a half twist as it closes
Now bring the bird into your chest holding its legs tight into the body and taking a firm but gentle grip on its neck extend and put the weight of the top part of the body onto the neck forcing the head down in one clean movement
The head will part from the body as the neck is broken and your hand will follow on down and away from the bird. As the pressure you applied is released the bird will start to flap uncontrollably. At this point the chicken is dead.
This action is only nervous reaction and it will stop in about 30 seconds. Allow the bird to flap as much as it wants as this action forces any blood to go down to the neck and coagulate there. Now if you feel the neck between the head and the body you will find a large void where the neck joined the head. Closing the two fingers over it will show it’s dead.
You can hang it for a day or two if you so wish, or you can carry straight onto the plucking.
Hanging the Chicken
Take your bird and hang it by the feet in a cool place for a day. The blood will pool in the neck end so draining is unnecessary.
Plucking the Chicken
Get a bucket of hot water (too hot for your hand) dip the bird in and count to sixty, then take it out start taking the wing feathers out. Next pluck the legs and then the breast. These feathers will all come out easily as the hot water melts the fat that is around the pen of the feather so it nearly falls out. I can pluck a chicken in 5 minutes or so, but I have been doing this for a lot of years.
Once the bird has been plucked you’ll find there are a few fine hairs left on the bird, just ignore them.
Editorial Note on Killing a Chicken
f you feel unable to do the job by hand then you can get a humane dispatcher from your seed and feed stockist. This should come with an instructional pamphlet showing you how to use it.
It’s a good idea to practice first on some celery sticks, which will give you an idea of how much force is required and what it feels like. Always go for full closure with dispatchers.
If you have not killed a chicken before, it is a good idea to go to an experienced poultry keeper and learn rather than jump in. The idea is to cause as little distress to the bird and the rest of the flock as possible.
Alternative Explanation of How to Kill a Chicken
Sometimes it clarifies things to have them explained in a different way – this explanation of the same method of killing a chicken taken is from Wrights Book of Poultry circa 1912.
The methods of killing vary considerably and some of them are very objectionable. The plan usually followed in this country is dislocation of the neck. When swiftly and properly carried out, there can be no more humane method.
The operator holds the bird by the two legs and gathers the ends of the wings in the same hand ; thus the bird is unable to struggle. When so held the back should be upwards.
He now takes the head between the first and second fingers of the right hand, the comb lying in the palm and the fingers closing upon the neck immediately behind the head.
The neck is drawn by the right hand to its full length, the head thrown slightly back, and by a sharp but not too vigorous pull the vertebral column is broken, the neck thrown fully out immediately behind the head, the veins and nerves torn right across.
Such a system ensures but momentary pain in killing, because, as the brain is the centre of all feeling, separation from the rest of the body means immediate cessation of feeling.
When properly done it will be found that there is a break in the column of the neck of about an inch to an inch and a half, the head being connected with the neck only by the outer skin, which should not, of course, be torn in any way.