The Chicken World's Worst Chore, culling the injured and sick babies.

By duluthralphie · May 27, 2016 · ·
  1. duluthralphie
    I have just had to to the worst job of bird rearing. I was forced to cull a 4 day old turkey. We tried everything, it's feet and legs would not work.

    It happens to us all at some point. Our choices are not good, either let it die a slow miserable death or find some way to speed up the process. We have found what we think is a good way to preserve some dignity and comfort for the chick in a humane fashion.

    I will be treating this subject with a little humor, some of you will say very little and in bad taste, I am sure. I am doing this because it is so sad and hard for many of us to even talk about. But it should be talked about. It is a part of bird rearing and a part of everyday life for many of us.

    I needed to find a model to sit in for the injured or sick chick. Even I am not calloused enough to show the actual process with a life model. This is my paid model, as you can see he is excited for his first paid modeling gig.


    First we need to find a good plastic container, with a lid. I prefer the hinged lids, it seems to make it easier. The dishwasher soap containers are perfect.


    Next we need to remove all the unused contents of the container. Please dispose of them properly.




    Check to make sure the container is empty, we do not want anything to interfere with the process.
    Even after checking the container and making sure it was empty, my wife was upset with me over something. I am not sure what, I did not just dump the stuff on the table like normally do. Sometimes there is no pleasing that woman!

    Next place a soft comfortable layer of something on the bottom of the container. I use a soft paper towel knotted up loosely and laid on the floor of the container.


    Now you can place the bird that does not have a chance at a decent life in the container. Make sure it is comfortable. Spend a few seconds or minutes saying your goodbyes and comforting the poor bird.

    Then you need to put an absorbent layer over the bird. We use the blue paper shop towels for this. They hold more liquid without falling apart and prevent the subject bird from getting wet or a discomforting cold feeling.



    We are now at the point we need to put the bird to sleep. We use ether. The same stuff that was used in earlier surgeries on humans. It is readily available and relatively cheap. The common name for it is starting fluid. Any big box store or auto parts store will have it.


    Simply spray the ether into the blue shop rag, or whatever covering layer you decide to use. Make sure you put enough ether in the container. When you think you have enough double what you have put in and then spray more in.

    You do not want to do this in the house. MAKE SURE YOU ARE OUTSIDE IN A VENTED AREA! Use lots of ether, I cannot say this enough. These are two important parts. Let us review them:

    OUTSIDE~!!!! & LOTS OF ETHER!!!!

    There will not be a test, but you have to do this! Every time no exceptions.
    OUTSIDE~!!!! & LOTS OF ETHER!!!!

    Set the container aside and let it sit a good 30 minutes to an hour. The longer the better. You do not want to open it too soon and have the chick revive, that would be horrible for you and the chick.

    When you do open it, you will find the chick appears to have just went to sleep. They will appear all relaxed and peaceful. There will be no sign of a struggle. I cannot say you will have a good feeling about this, but you will know you have done all you could and saved the bird a long painful death.


    Remove the bird and dispose of it in any manner you deem proper. I am required to either bury or burn them as part of my NPIP hatchery Certification. I have homemade crematory for birds. But I will not get into that now.

    I actually hope as morbid of a subject as this is, some of you will use it and find a kind of peace from it. My wife and I do, knowing they simply went to sleep instead of a terrible painful maiming death. I, will tell you I have all I can do to spray and close the lid, but I know I could never do the other methods involving knifes, axes or hammers.

    I hope this helps someone.

    This disclaimer is most important : NO FROGS WERE INJURED IN THE MAKING OF THIS ARTICLE!

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Recent User Reviews

  1. Raenh
    "Thank you."
    5/5, 5 out of 5, reviewed Sep 5, 2018
    I hope I never need to use this, but I'm glad it's out there as an alternative. I could never do it the old fashion ways either.
  2. nicollee
    "Sad subject, worst chore"
    5/5, 5 out of 5, reviewed Sep 4, 2018
    Very sad subject matter, but one that is important to be able to carry out.
    We all love our feathered friends/children, and want no harm to come to them.
    It's nice to know there are less "violent" ways to cull.
    Raenh and Miss Lydia like this.
  3. Miss Lydia
    5/5, 5 out of 5, reviewed Jun 20, 2018
    Thank you.
    Raenh likes this.


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  1. Miss Lydia
    I appreciate your humor, this isn't something none of us want to have to do but for those of us who can't imagine the ax this looks like the best way.
  2. path.otto
    I'm late to the party (not that euthanasia is a party...), story of my life, but I love this article, both for it's humor and the delicate manner in which it is approached. Sometimes, things are so tough that all we can do is laugh! I also think this could be the way I will choose if it comes to that. Next to chickens I love frogs next best! I must find that frog in a bath tub! BTW, do you know how expensive that dishwasher soap is? No wonder your wife was miffed! :lau

    Good job!
  3. Phoebus
    Thank you for the very useful information presented in a very kind manner that's not so uncomfortable.....
      path.otto likes this.
  4. citykitty
    Thank you for this article, I finally found a method I think I'll be comfortable with. Can you do this with full sized hens, and of so, does anything change?
      CrazyChickenMama18 and path.otto like this.
  5. shawluvsbirds
    I have heard about this method but did not know exactly how it should be done. I won't be laughing when I have to do this for real but your frog model had me cracking up!:lau
      path.otto likes this.
  6. NancyNurseCxMama
    Unfortunately, I am facing this issue now. Marek's, with my sweetest little heartbreaker.
    Just a note---there are different concentrations of ether in different brands of starting fluid. Look for one with the highest ether concentration. You can check this by googling the product and looking at the MSDS info.
    It truly sucks....we so love our little birds.
      path.otto and BantyChooks like this.
    1. duluthralphie
      This is true, I have never paid much attention to concentration as I really use a lot to prevent any mishaps...Thanks
  7. bantiesrule
    You claim no frogs were injured in making this article but does that include the mental anguish of having a bath-time photo posted on the internet. I hope you will give him/her all the help and support he/she will need to get over this ordeal.

    Thanks Ralphie, great article.
  8. Bogtown Chick
    Ralphie this is fabulous. The humor in these times is well needed--a welcome relief. An outlet for the seriousness of the situation. We get it. Great job. Your caring hand is not amiss here.
  9. mjh2032
    Thank you for this information. I hope I will not ever have to do this but I appreciate knowing if it comes to this I have a way that is not as traumatic for me or the bird to handle the situation.
  10. Blooie
    Well done. I am saving this in case I ever need it. Thank you!
      path.otto and Wickedchicken6 like this.
  11. ForrestGump
    This is the method I use on chicks. They do not suffer (or suffocate), they just fall asleep. As someone who has worked in the veterinary field, I can say this is the most humane and least traumatizing way to cull a chick. Most of them are gone within 5 minutes, so you don't have to wait very long.
    Well written, and thank you.
  12. duluthralphie
    Ty both...It is always hard, but at times it is not only for the best, there just is no other option.
      path.otto and Wickedchicken6 like this.
  13. TwoCrows
    Thank you for sharing your experience with this. I do know this a very difficult decision to make and also to follow through with. I am facing a similar situation with a sick hen that I plan on euthanizing in this manner as soon as she is ready to let go. I am so sorry for your loss but a great article just the same! :)
      path.otto and Wickedchicken6 like this.
  14. BantyChooks
    VERY good article!
      path.otto and Wickedchicken6 like this.

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