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!
I am adding a postscript here:
I saw a few people worried about the effects of any additives in the ether (starting fluid). It has never been a concern of mine. They will not live long enough to have lasting effects. There is nothing unpleasant about the smell or any burning in the lungs from starting fluid. It can actually be abused for a high, (before you die).
There were many times especially as a kid on the farm I was too close to too much starting fluid and would end up light headed.....back then we were not like it is today with lots of protective measures taken....Also I have used clear containers to see there is no apparent discomfort to the bird.
My black lab is 11 years old, I plan to make a comfy bed in a "box" for her when her time comes (we think she has cancer) if she dos not die on her own and needs to be put down. I would empty several cans into the small air tight box for her...It would save her the misery of a trip to the vet and me the $300 it costs to but a dog down. It will be hard on me, I will cry for days, but it will be the best for her to die here on the farm she loves..
I understand if some of you are leery of this method and want to use another, it is your choice, but please to not discourage this method for those of us that want a less disfiguring and hopefully less painful death for our animals. There is nothing inhumane about this.
The Chicken World's Worst Chore, culling the injured and sick babies.
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Thank you! This is informative and handled nicely (thanks for the humor!).
I too am wondering if it is an effective/humane method of helping a mature bird??? My guess is the amount of ether would be increased to the max???
We have not culled - yet - but there may come a time when there is an ill or injured bird. The Vets here do not treat or euthanize chickens. Unfortunately, in an earlier life, I was witness to one too many massacres (Knives, hatchets, improper preparation, terrified critters etc. NOT good.)
I cannot bear the idea of that again. This method, handled properly, seems humane.