A butchering question


May 2, 2016
Huntingdon County, PA
We are getting close to butchering a few cockerels. Our first flock is getting close to laying age and of our 11 chickens we have 5 cockerels (which is 3-4 too many considering the number of hens we have).

I was wondering if shooting the chicken in the head is a possible butchering method. Maybe this sounds silly to everyone who is in the know, but we are newbies to chickens. Still, we are a hunting family so I asked my husband and he said 'why not'. Now I am trying to figure out if there is a why not.

Thanks for all responses.


Jun 17, 2016
East Orlando, FL
I would suggest against using a gun, unless you're definitely a good enough shot to make the kill with the first bullet. My favorite method is the broomstick method - it's quick, painless, and bloodless (unless the head pops off from a hard pull). You lay the bird down on his stomach, place a broomstick lengthwise over the back of the head, step on the broomstick at the same time as you pull the back feet up. It pops the head right off the spine and instant death. Much more guaranteed than a bullet, and WAY more than a pellet.

If you do try it, let us know how it worked out, I'm always open to new methods that are humane.


Crossing the Road
13 Years
Feb 2, 2009
Southeast Louisiana
To me the best way to kill a chicken for butchering is how you can. What you want is a method that is sure and swift. I grew up using a hammer, axe, and other similar tools so I’m extremely confident I can hit the target with a hatchet. I drive two large nails to form a Vee in a stump to hold the head in place, gently stretch out the neck and use a hatchet. If you are not comfortable using a hatchet it’s probably not the way to go for you. You do not want a method where you are going to close your eyes or flinch at the wrong time. You can get hurt and you may just injure the chicken.

There are certain safety precautions when using guns, of course. Know what is down range, be very aware of the risk from ricochets, things like that. I’m not anti-gun, I’m anti people doing things that reflect badly on the ones of us that are careful. If you are confident you can do it safely, not injure any people or other animals, and not cause property damage, and if you are sure you can hit the target with a killing shot, it will work. To me the potential downside is the normal risk every time you use a gun, but with adequate safety precautions, those risks are acceptable.

Fat Daddy

11 Years
Dec 11, 2010
Like Ridgerunner said above, however is comfortable for you... Bottom line, the first step is end the bird... I have also done it most ways. But the last ten years or so it's been with a .22 and hollow points. As said above safety has to be a priority at all times. Along with consideration for the bird. Also I try to just let one at a time out or isolate it.... Below is a pic of this weekends butcher. If you notice the cart in the back ground. It has a old Remington 22 in the front, and 2 cockerels that are next to be done in the back.... I'm getting close to having 70 birds butchered this year alone. I shoot them all...

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Hopelessly Addicted
Premium Feather Member
9 Years
Jun 18, 2010
Southern Oregon
There are folks here who do that. My Honey used to, with a pellet gun. You have to be a very, very good shot. The target's pretty darn small and unpredictable.


May 14, 2015
North Carolina
If you miss that first shot...well....they aren't completely stupid. It's very hard to get in the second one. I would also be ready with your "back up method" in case you miss and hit them in the body instead of the head...it's not too nice to leave them half alive & wounded while your scrounge around for the good knife, go ahead and have it and a solid surface ready. We use knives, hang them upside down, which calms them, pull the neck feathers back and slit into both veins on either side of the neck. We do more than 100 a year and rarely have a complainer (chicken unhappy about being upside down or whatever.)


Feb 26, 2015
I just bought a restraining cone (sold by most hatcherys that sell equipment, and Amazon). I watched a demo of its use on utube, and it seemed to be the easiest, most humane way to go. Put the bird in, head comes out of the other end. Thery are unable to struggle, and so remain calm. You just hold the head and cut the throat. Let it bleed out, and it's done. Average price of the cone is around $19.00. They come in different sizes, from small to large (for turkeys).


May 2, 2016
Huntingdon County, PA
Thank you everyone for the info.

I will probably leave it up to my husband. He is a good shot, a hunter, and we live in a rural area so we don't need to worry too much about the safeness of a gun. Still, if he wants to use the cone or something else, we will do that.

At this point we only have the few birds to butcher and I was just trying to explore all our choices, especially one like the gun, which wouldn't require a lot of new equipment purchased.

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