Chickens Watching Chicken Processing

I apologize for the noob question. I figured it had been asked a bunch of times, but I don't see it anywhere. I'm planning my layout for next year, and I'm trying to decide where my processing will take place.

Do I need to shield the processing from the other birds? I.e., after I process one bird, will the other birds see me as a predator and freak when I get close to them? Does it disturb them to see other birds processed?

I'm trying to decide if I (a) need to set up processing on a completely different part of the property, (b) could set up in the chicken yard, but shielded so birds can't get in there and can't see what is happening, or (c) if I can just ignore the other birds, because they won't care.

TIA
 

bobbi-j

Crossing the Road
10 Years
Mar 15, 2010
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We take them out of the coop and lop heads and gut them right there. The survivors don’t seem traumatized at all. As a matter of fact, if a piece of gut misses the bucket, the others are right there to clean it up. I think the biggest effect of processing day is the change in flock dynamics. They’re confused for a few days until they get the pecking order straightened back out.
 

Eggscaping

Enjoying Life!
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Dec 4, 2018
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I apologize for the noob question. I figured it had been asked a bunch of times, but I don't see it anywhere. I'm planning my layout for next year, and I'm trying to decide where my processing will take place.

Do I need to shield the processing from the other birds? I.e., after I process one bird, will the other birds see me as a predator and freak when I get close to them? Does it disturb them to see other birds processed?

I'm trying to decide if I (a) need to set up processing on a completely different part of the property, (b) could set up in the chicken yard, but shielded so birds can't get in there and can't see what is happening, or (c) if I can just ignore the other birds, because they won't care.

TIA
I agree with the previous two that you don't let the chickens see their fellows being killed...but if I remember correctly there was someone who said they killed out of sight but processed where the flock was and the other chickens fought over the 'tasty bits'. (little cannibals!)
 

wyoDreamer

Crowing
9 Years
Nov 10, 2010
4,822
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My laying chickens can see the killing cone - it hangs on the fence post about 25 feet from the layer run. I put the chicken in the cone, do the job and walk away until it is done kicking. My chickens ignore the whole business. As soon as I let them out to free-range, they run right to the fence post to see if I missed cleaning up anything. Once I forgot to remove the blood bucket and they tipped it open and tried to clean it out.

I don't think they are fazed much by the processing. They do react when I first grab the chicken and it squawks, but I don't put the chicken into the cone until it has calmed. The feather plucker is usually set-up right next to the fenced in run and they ignore that once they get used to the noise it makes.

I keep them locke up while I process because I worry that they will be underfoot and make the process that much harder for me. It is not easy for me to end a life, but it needs to be done when you raise meat chickens, so I do it.
 

BantyChooks

Pullarius
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Aug 1, 2015
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My chickens free range, so quite frequently they're around when I process other birds. They don't seem disturbed. They try and steal bits of the liver and other extra fleshy parts. :rolleyes: I once had a young layer run off with the entire digestive system of a CX.

I would, however, keep the bird that's being processed from flopping around on the ground post-kill. I generally restrain them with my arms until the muscles stop spasming. My birds are quite hawk-wary and the sound of flapping wings is an instant cue to run for the woods and hide for the rest of the day. It's just good practice in general to keep the meat from being bruised.
 
What a fascinating collection of answers which are both helpful and contradictory!

Thank you all for your replies.

Let's see if I can summarize. The concerns I hear are that (1) live birds might be traumatized because they see what might happen to them someday, (2) live birds might be traumatized because they smell blood, (3) live birds might be traumatized or scattered by flapping wings that suggest an aerial predator, (4) live birds might see the process as an attack on the flock, engendering panic.

Yet three of the replies said they process right in front of the other birds, with no visible trauma, except the one concern about flapping wings possibly signaling the presence of a hawk.

While I agree with the human sentiments of not exposing the birds to the processing, that's about what I would feel, not necessarily what a chicken would feel. I find it hard to believe the chickens would be able to project into the future based on what they are experiencing now, but I don't find it hard to believe that they might decide someone they don't know is a predator. And I suspect the actual experience might trump.

Let me ask, does anyone have experiences of a chicken visibly being traumatized by seeing another chicken processed? I'm wondering how much of the concerns are reflections of our own feelings, as opposed to those of the birds.
 
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