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Humane Techniques

Humane Techniques

Humane Techniques

If you are not interested in learning how to kill a chicken, please consider visiting other areas of our website.

In this section, we focus on humane techniques to end a chicken’s life quickly and in a manor that will facilitate the remainder of the butchering process. Your goals are to:

  • Ensure process is quick
  • Prevent involuntary nervous system reactions that make plucking more difficult
  • Avoid blood, fecal or other types of contamination for muscle tissue
  • Separate the act of killing from the rest of the flock to eliminate risk of stress

It is a good idea to remove feed access from your chickens at least 12 hours prior to killing them. The reason to prevent them from eating is so that they do not have partially digested sour food in their crop when you butcher them. It is not an essential step, but we do recommend it.

We cover three techniques for killing a chicken:

  • Using an axe
  • Dislocating the neck
  • Using a knife

Using an Axe

The most common technique in non-commercial operations is likely using a hand axe to decapitate the chicken. This process is as straightforward as:

  • Find an area where cleanup will be easy
  • Hold the chicken’s legs in one hand
  • Lay the head and neck on a flat cutting surface
  • With one solid swing, use a sharp axe to cut entirely through the chickens neck
  • Continue to hold or hang the chicken upside down until reflex twitching stops and blood is drained

There are three primary downsides to using an axe to kill a chicken:

  • Axe severs the spinal cord which can cause chicken to tense making plucking more difficult
  • Axe severs the jugular vein which may cause blood to contaminate the lungs and muscle tissue
  • Post mortem twitching with the expose jugular may result in significant blood splatter

Dislocating the neck

One of the oldest non-commercial techniques is dislocating a chickens neck, which paralyzes and kills instantly. This process is as straightforward as:

  • Hold the chicken’s legs in one hand
  • Grasp the neck with your other hand right below the head
  • Tilt the head slightly back
  • Pull the head away from the body until the neck dislocates
  • Continue to hold legs and neck until twitching stops
  • Hang the chicken from its feet
  • Sever both sides of the neck with a knife to allow it to bleed out

The primary downside to dislocating the neck is that it takes more strength than using an axe. The advantage versus using an axe is that you reduce the chicken’s likelihood of tensing around the features, and you reduce the risk of blood contamination.

Using a knife

If you need to kill a large number of meat birds, this technique may be more efficient that the others mentioned above. To kill a chicken using a knife, you should:

  • Hang the chicken by its feet using twine
  • Optionally use a killing cone to contain the wings and expose the head and neck
  • With one hand, pull down on the beak and head to stretch out the neck
  • With the other hand, hold a sharp knife
  • Make two 2” incisions, one on each side of the neck to sever the jugular
  • Do not cut through the spinal cord
  • Allow the heart to pump out and gravity to drain the blood

With experience, using a knife is likely the most efficient way to slaughter large

You may also be interested in reading:

Average Customer Rating: 5 based on 1 reviews. Write a review.

Positive Customer Review
Darren (Guest)
Great comparison of the different slaughter methods
I wanted to know the different methods of slaughter and the advantages and drawbacks of each. Perfect for what i was after, i'm just still not sure if it's something i can do however i'll have to learn at some point!
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