Ways to Euthanize a Chicken

By cluckcluckgirl · Aug 15, 2015 · Updated Jun 11, 2016 · ·
  1. cluckcluckgirl
    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)

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Recent User Reviews

  1. Anonymous
    2/5, 2 out of 5, reviewed Sep 24, 2018
    Not in detail enough to provide clear instruction on the various methods, and some of the methods described are less than ideal ways of killing the bird.
  2. tjo804
    "Good information"
    4/5, 4 out of 5, reviewed Aug 1, 2018
    Thank you for sharing
    I had no idea there were methods that would be less traumatic for both of us.

    Great job


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  1. cluckcluckgirl
  2. Lady of McCamley
    I find the best way to perform the CO2 method is with dry ice because it produces a large cloud which immediately brings unconsciousness. Use a 5 gallon bucket (orange Home Depot kind works well). Purchase about 1/4 lb of dry ice from your local grocer for a few dollars. (Be very careful in handling dry ice. Use gloves as it can cause freezer burn.) Place the dry ice in the bottom of the bucket. Pour about a cup of warm water. Place a styrofoam or cardboard insert over the ice (to protect the bird from touching the ice). Let cloud build by placing lid on bucket but slightly ajar to allow gas to escape (otherwise you risk blowing off the lid). After a minute, lower bird into the heavy thick cloud of CO2 and put lid on again with a little vent allowed. It is the same technique used in CO2 fire extinguishing systems in computer rooms and factories. (Workers are warned to get out immediately as unconsciousness occurs within seconds, suffocation within minutes). This amount of CO2 immediately renders the bird unconscious. Body fluttering ends within 30 to 40 seconds. Bird is fully dead within a minute. It is the fastest, kindest way I have found.
  3. cluckcluckgirl
    @susan6sw That would be at least 500mg acetaminophen and 200mg Valerian root.
  4. susan6sw
    Regarding the drug method, I'm confused by the commas: is it 500mg acetaminophen and 100 Valerian? Or 500mg acetaminophen and 200 Valerian?
  5. bruceha2000
    @orpington13 - re CO from your car's exhaust. Maybe that worked in days gone by (certainly in enough movies) but some cars, Prius specifically, do not put out enough CO to kill. Let's go back to the more quick and humane methods mentioned in the article and posts.
  6. DuginMT
    I feel chopping their heads off is quicker and more humane than cutting their necks and letting them bleed out.
  7. ChickenGrass
    I do not agree with suffocation or freezing alive
    The hen obviously goes through a lot of stress
    When not being able to breed or is in temperatures of about -18
    I find the most humain way is breaking the neck
    The chicken dies straight away no pain and no mess
  8. veganurbanfarm
    I recently had to euthanize one of my girls. It was a very sad day and a difficult thing to do, but ultimately it was for the best. One shot through the head and a second one to make sure she was gone made it quick and painless for her and much easier for me than any other potentially drawn out (or costly) method. Not everyone has the ability to do this, but ultimately I think the faster the death, the better, whatever method that may be.
  9. Garjzla
    I do not agree with suffocation, because suffocation is not peaceful and when humans suffocate they struggle in an attempt to breath, and I'm guessing an animal would do the same because that's instinct. But the rest I agree with and this is a useful article.
    I would probably just go to the vet, because I wouldn't be able to bring myself to kill a beloved chicken. I can kill a mean rooster or something, but a chicken that I'm attached to would be very hard to kill.

    Also, I've heard about freezing chickens, which I don't recommend! Because that is a painful and very slow way to die, and may pass as animal abuse. Better safe than extremely sorry!
  10. silverlaced44
  11. jrjoplin
    For reptiles the freezer works but I've heard it's a slow process for warm blooded animals. I think it would be similar to the suffocation death.
  12. silverlaced44
    Could you put the bird in a freezer? I would just go to sleep right?
  13. harveyhorses
    I think I would have to opt for the drug overdose, shooting would be fine but you still get the flailing around which I personally find kind of disturbing.
  14. CuriousChicken
    Well I know which one I'm using when the old man finally calls it, 500mg of ground up acetaminophen (Tylenol) with 200mg, of Valerian root.
  15. Teaspoon100
    After my four ducks were attacked by a bobcat, two died and two were still alive. One was fine but the other had a broken neck, and we ended up having to shoot him to put him out of the misery. Shooting is a quick and painless way of euthanasia, if you have the means to do it. However, it is a bit traumatizing to see them flailing their limbs after they die.
  16. dragonlady12
    Would the medication one work on a turkey? I wish I had found this when searching this site for this exact type of info about two months ago. My poor PTSD hubby and our poor turkey. My hubby is still not ok after breaking the neck of our beloved pet. Thank you for the info. It seems the best solution for wimps like us that love our dear ones so much.
  17. Stegs
    I guess im wondering why shooting the chicken wasnt brought up? Its quick, dies instantly. I couldnt bring myself to snap a neck or suffocate. In my mind, shooting a chicken is quick, effective and no wondering if the bird is in pain. Not to sound morbid...but some of these seem cruel
      shannon84 likes this.
  18. orpington13
    For a real Carbon Monoxide method, put the chicken in a big enough bag, and then take it to your car. Put the bag on the exhaust, so that the gas goes into the bag, and then turn on the car. It puts the chicken to rest within a minute or two.
  19. boskelli1571
    Good article. I chose to shoot my hen through the head. She had been failing for some time. The day when she laid at my feet and could not get up I knew I had to do one last thing for her...
  20. TroyerGal
    good article!
  21. Betsy57
    I put the chicken in the killing cone I use for my meat bird processing. I cut the vein in the neck. It is quick and the chicken and humane. The chicken doesn't flop around on the ground further traumatizing the person doing the deed.
  22. Yrat
    Vinegar and baking soda produce carbon dioxide, not carbon monoxide. Carbon dioxide will not make the chicken fall asleep. The production of CO2 simply displaces the air in the container, including the oxygen. The bird will essentially suffocate/asphyxiate.
  23. cluckcluckgirl
  24. birdbrain1948
    Timely information. Unfortunately I may be needing it soon if I can't help my beautiful BCM by any other means.
  25. jimbob86
    When using an axe to decapitate a chicken, a pair of large nails driven 3/4" apart into a sturdy stump, and bent apart a bit ....will prevent the bird from reflexively ducking the fatal blow......

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