Faced with this issue recently, I was struggling in my mind to think of the most humane way to put my suffering hen out of her misery. She was one of my sweetest hens, and I could not bring myself to do some methods of euthanization. So, I did some thorough research and found out there are many ways to let your chicken pass peacefully. But first off, let's discuss when to and when not to euthanize.

When it may be Best to Euthanize
The times when euthanasia may be best include (but are not limited solely to):
  • when the chicken has sustained a massive injury, such as head trauma, severely broken limbs, damaged organs, etc. Please research your chicken's injury before euthanizing. Chickens are very tough animals, but they cannot survive every injury. Some injuries may be treatable with due time, love, and care.
  • when the chicken refuses to eat, drink, and you force-feeding them is not working, even after a few days
  • you can see that the chicken is suffering a lot and the conditions are not improving no matter what you do

(Above: After suffering head trauma, my hen struggles to stand up)​

I made the decision it would be best to put my hen out of her suffering when she sustained head trauma from being pushed off a height by another chicken. Her appetite was gone nearly overnight, and my efforts were making no progress. The head injury affected her appetite, nerves, and awareness.

When it may be Best NOT to Euthanize

Euthanization is a very serious and permanent matter. Some cases of injuries/problems may not need euthanasia. For example:
  • the chicken is injured, but research and good judgment determine that the chicken should heal up fine when taken care of properly
  • some common easily-treatable problems, such as egg-binding, impacted crop, bumble foot, mites/lice, etc.

(Above: Although molting may look rough, chickens do this on purpose and survive)​

If your chicken is malnourished and weak, euthanasia is not always necessary. Taking them in, feeding them by hand, and doing physical therapy work wonders for this case, and many chickens can survive. With many injuries, the best first attempt is to heal them.

Okay, so now we have a basis on some chickens that may need euthanization and some that may not. If you have decided that your chicken has a possibility of healing, continue treatment and good luck! If your chicken is best suited for euthanizing, your options are many. Many ways are nearly painless, quick, and easy for you. Please note: This article is nto intended to give you a full view of every possible method and every aspect of each method. This article is intended to simply list some options and possibly help you decide which method you may prefer. I encourage further research of the method you have in mind before you euthanize.

Snapping the Neck

This method is much preferred. It causes nearly instant death that is virtually painless for your chicken. However, you may find it hard for you to do. You may find that you can't bring yourself to snap the neck.

To perform this: Lay the chicken down on a flat surface, grab their neck, and quickly twist your wrist. Your chicken will flop around for a little while then lay still.

Cutting off the Head

Much like the former method, it is painless and instant. The chicken has almost no clue. But also like the former method, you may find it to be easier said than done.

To perform this: Lay the chicken down on a flat surface. With an ax or hatchet in hand, cut off the head about mid-way down the neck.

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Note: if not performed properly, this method may also effect you. It is important to follow directions. Carbon Monoxide is a deadly gas.
This method is very relaxing. The chicken will find itself becoming sleepy, fall asleep, but not wake up.

To perform this: Gather a container capable of being sealed properly. Put peroxide or vinegar and baking soda mixed together in the container, and put the chicken inside. Close the lid, and in a few minutes the chicken will have passed.

Relaxing the Chicken by Means of Medication

I settled on this method for my hen. It relaxes the chicken so much that the heart becomes relaxed too. Basically, the chicken is given an overdose of sedative medication that gently puts them into a permanent sleep.

To perform this: I mixed together 500mg of ground up acetaminophen (Tylenol) with two tablets, each 100mg, of Valerian root and made a liquid. Both acetaminophen and Valerian root calm nerves and muscles and is deadly to a chicken in these quantities. I gave my chicken this mix through a dropper in her mouth, and within half an hour I could notice her becoming increasingly relaxed. However, this method may take a while for the effects.

Going to the Vet

This is also very common, especially since you, the owner, do almost nothing. It is also very humane. Not all vet offices may perform this and may be closed when it's best to say goodbye to your feathery friend, which can rule out this method.

To perform this: Make an appointment with a local vet that can do euthanizations for chickens. (Most vet offices will charge a small amount)