Does a chicken immediately die??

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by Flying Chicken in the sky, Mar 18, 2012.

  1. Flying Chicken in the sky

    Flying Chicken in the sky Out Of The Brooder

    Aug 14, 2011
    Will a chicken immediately die after the head is cut off? Sorry about the gory question. I need to know cause I don't want any suffering when I process chickens.
  2. EweSheep

    EweSheep Flock Mistress

    Jan 12, 2007
    Land of Lincoln
    Yes they will die. We have several threads regarding to this matter. Once the major artery is severed, they would lose conciousness immediately and be dead afterwards. No suffering. You do it quickly and make sure your knife is very sharp, it will be easier for you and the bird.
  3. Flying Chicken in the sky

    Flying Chicken in the sky Out Of The Brooder

    Aug 14, 2011
    Thank you! That's good to hear. I would hate to have any suffering.
  4. jdywntr

    jdywntr Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 31, 2009
    Somerville, AL
    FYI they will still move/flap/thrash even after the head is removed. I think that is the hardest part for most people learning to process. The "run around like a chicken with it's head cut off" saying is accurate. [​IMG] Sorry but I think that is the easiest way to put it.

    I don't use an axe, I slit the throat, hold the head at an angle to help with bleeding out ( makes me feel better ) and try my best to hold the wings so that flapping is at a minimum ( that is the worst part for me ) at least until I buy/make a cone. Good luck and try not to think about it too much. It is easy to psyche yourself out, I did the first time.
  5. CarolJ

    CarolJ Dogwood Trace Farm

    Jun 3, 2011
    Middle Tennessee
    Yes, the "running around like a chicken with its head cut off" is accurate. I remember as a child watching my mother chop off a chicken's head - and it would flap around the yard for a few moments. I haven't processed any chickens yet, but I imagine if I ever do, I will use a cone. Good luck!
  6. booker81

    booker81 Redneck Tech Girl

    Apr 18, 2010
    A lot of muscle movement happens after the chicken is unconscious and bordering dead, it's just how chemistry/nerves work.

    I slit the throat and hold on to them as they pass - shortly after the "light" goes out of their eyes, they start the movement. Up until that point, when they are still alive and conscious, they are calm. I like it that way - a calm for a few moments, they go unconscious, and then some flapping. A good cut usually means about 30 seconds or so for me from beginning to end.

    I've cut myself with the scalpel, and I know for me, there is no pain for minutes at least.
  7. xC0000005

    xC0000005 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 1, 2009
    Kirkland, WA
    Yes, the chicken is dead. There are several chemical reactions that trigger the muscular system,but the chicken is dead at that point.
  8. Ibicella

    Ibicella Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 13, 2009
    Everett, WA
    Yeah, as the others have said, they die pretty much immediately and the body will spaz out, which can be really freaky to have to witness because it certainly LOOKS alive. But without the head, there can be no pain signals to reach the brain, and without oxygen, the brain dies in probably around 10-15 seconds. In that very brief time, the head is simply stunned and it's unlikely to be able to feel at all. If you've ever been through a major mental or physical accident, more than likely you won't feel any pain even if you are seriously hurt because of shock.

    The same thing happens when you slit the throat. The head dies very quickly because there is no oxygen getting to the brain and very little chance of suffering to even have time to occur.
  9. triplepurpose

    triplepurpose Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 13, 2008
    What is dead? What is alive? Suffering is an but inevitable part of material existence, says the Master...


    Seriously though, cutting the head off a chicken is about as quick and humane a death as it is possible to choose, and it's easy to do it right, in the sense that no matter how you do it, you can be assured that the chicken is dead once you've severed the head (reflexive trashing notwithstanding), which can't be said for pithing and throat slitting and such, which requires more precision of technique and a more precise knowledge of what you're seeing. Hence it is often recommended for beginners to use the simple "hatchet method."

    Interestingly, in the Middle Ages, and even somewhat later, beheading was the execution method of choice for respectable nobles, because it was considered quickest and most humane. The guillotine of the French Revolution was actually invented to be an improved, more precise, humane and civilized execution method. Common folk, by contrast, were hanged, which sometimes was quick if the victim's neck snapped in the drop but often took minutes to kill, while the victim thrashed and kicked while dangling in the air and slowly suffocating. But truly heinous criminals, such as traitors, were often sentenced to be hung until "half dead," taken down, disemboweled and have their innards burnt in front of them, then have their bodies pulled or cut apart into four pieces. Which is what is actually meant by "hung, drawn, and quartered." Can you say, "ouch?!"

    Sorry, I generally don't like to make creepy slaughter vs. execution comparisons since the two don't really have anything to do with each other but couldn't resist sharing this tidbit of history.... [​IMG]
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2012
  10. galanie

    galanie Treat Dispenser No More

    Aug 20, 2010
    Dead is when you cut the jugular or when the head is cut off. Other than that, further discussion only discomforts someone that is going to have to dispatch culls.

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