Euthanizing a chicken - Please learn from my mistake

Hyunsoo Moon

In the Brooder
Jul 23, 2017
7
5
12
Los Angeles, CA
Our chicken Coco, began to show signs of Marek's disease. Imbalance, falling asleep constantly, and random comatose like state. We euthanized another chicken, Berry, a couple weeks ago through a vet, so this was somewhat dreadfully expected.

Our family was going through some other tough emotional times and my wife and I were pretty distraught. We wanted to put her down but no vets were gonna be available until after the weekend. I sort of hastily researched easier ways to euthanize a chicken. There were 2 choices for doing it at home; A: Do it physically by decapitation or breaking the neck, or B: chemically through CO2 or ether.

I thought about A, but it sounded violent and I wasn't confident in my ability to do it right. So I looked up B. I read somewhere that creating CO2 with baking soda and peroxide is easier for smaller birds, and I was really afraid of the possibility of something working only halfway. And then I saw that someone did it with the exhaust out of their car. They said it was quick and effective. I saw a good amount of negative feedback on this but for some reason I ignored it.

We said our goodbyes to her, wrapped her tightly in a blanket, put her into a styrofoam box I had made that connected to a hose running from the car exhaust pipe.

We put her in the box, my wife stepped away, and I began to hear her. She struggled with way more energy than I thought she had left. I felt like was gonna jump out of the box so I pushed down on the lid. She began to squawk softer and then she went. It felt like it took about a minute, maybe more. The event was numbing and surreal.

Euthanasia means "good death" from Greek. This was NOT a good death. She struggled and she sounded like she was clearly in pain, or at least complete panic. I did this earlier today and have not been able to sleep, thinking about the sounds she was making and the struggle she put up. My wife and I have been completely traumatized by the event and I am largely responsible.

As her owner/caretaker, I have the responsibility to be as compassionate as possible to these vulnerable animals, especially those who are sick. I could have done a little more thorough research about how to euthanize a chicken or just simply waited until a vet was available to take her. Instead, I chose a way that was easy for me but not easy for the Coco.

For those who thought about doing it this way, please reconsider. It's something I deeply regret doing and I will remember it forever. Coco was a great chicken to us and she did not deserve the death that she received.

I highly recommend using a vet, as they will tranquilize your chicken before they are put down. It's peaceful, truly painless, and feels dignified.

Here is a helpful site I should have found/listened to that explains in detail about dislocation/decapitation:
http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2017/02/how-to-humanely-euthanize-chicken-by-dr.html
 

sourland

Broody Magician
Premium Feather Member
12 Years
May 3, 2009
129,086
416,915
2,027
New Jersey
To the OP. Well said. Cervical dislocation may seem 'violent, but in my experience is the quickest and least stressful method of euthanasia available to the layman. I cringe when I hear folks recommending suffocation (gassing) or even worse drowning of any animal.

Sorry that you had to deal with this.
 

TattooedChicks

Songster
Jan 21, 2017
1,013
1,274
242
Kansas City
Thank you for sharing this and I will keep it in mind for when the day comes with my own birds. I've only ever helped put down newborn kittens without a vets help before, like those born severely deformed or with their organs on the outside. Years ago we would wrap them in a towel and place them in the freezer where they went quietly and calmly, not that it would work on an adult chicken.
 

tuesdaze

Chirping
Jun 1, 2016
65
43
55
Hyunsoo Moon, how very sad and difficult for you and your wife. My heart goes out to both of you. You had good intentions - you didn't want CoCo to suffer even a minute longer than she had. It is unfortunate that information such as you found is out there. It is possible to euthanize our beloved with CO2 humanely, without causing undue distress, even with baking soda and vinegar. Personally, I have found that CO2 canisters are readily available and much more consistent and reliable. I do not advocate this method for everyone's use, and there is a specific procedure that, if not followed carefully, could have an undesirable outcome. I just have not been able to bring myself to use cervical dislocation or decapitation, and CO2 is equally humane while being (albeit less importantly) much less traumatic for me. Thank you for sharing your incredibly harrowing experience so that others may be spared. :hugs I wish for you to have only happy memories of CoCo.
 

BantyChooks

Wrangler
Premium Feather Member
6 Years
Aug 1, 2015
59,666
215,981
1,737
I do not advocate this method for everyone's use, and there is a specific procedure that, if not followed carefully, could have an undesirable outcome. I just have not been able to bring myself to use cervical dislocation or decapitation, and CO2 is equally humane while being (albeit less importantly) much less traumatic for me. Thank you for sharing your incredibly harrowing experience so that others may be spared. :hugs I wish for you to have only happy memories of CoCo.
Hear, hear.
 

OG Anomaly

Songster
Jul 23, 2017
292
350
177
WNY
I'm so sorry you all went through that :(
Thank you for sharing though. I might have to choose euthanasia as well and that's why I read your post...it sounds like you made an honest mistake and it's obvious you learned from it, try not to be too hard on yourself...
 

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