How I botched my first attempt at killing a chicken~~hoping that others will learn from my mistakes

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by goldnchocolate, Mar 17, 2012.

  1. goldnchocolate

    goldnchocolate Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 9, 2008
    I mentioned in another thread that I had botched my first chicken killing[​IMG]. Someone asked if I would describe what happened and I'm hoping that others, who haven't killed their first chicken yet, will be able to learn from my mistakes and have a better experience.

    A couple of years ago I hatched 4 incubators full of eggs, and ended up with 35 cockerels!! I knew that eventually I would have to deal with the issue of what to do with all of them so I studied everything I could find on the internet. Since I didn't have a killing cone, yet, I tried a method that I had read about using a grocery bag (with a hole for the head to hang out of) tied to a tree. I also didn't have a slicing knife to cut the jugular vein so used a box cutter (with new blade)--a method which I also had seen on the internet.

    Well, I had put things off for so long that I had 35+ roosters crowing all day and night so I had to finally pick my first guinea pig. The poor fella just happened to be unfortunate enough to be the one standing next to me that day. I picked him up, somehow got him in the bag, wrapped a piece of twine around his feet and hung it from the nail in the tree. He was very uncooperative during this whole process. (The other piece of poor advice that I found on the internet was that you could kill a chicken right in front of the other chickens because they aren't smart enough to know what is happening [​IMG] ).

    Well, the bag kept slipping off so that wasn't working. By this time the cockerel was squawking up a storm...frightening all of the other chickens so now they were squawking, too.

    I had read that somewhere on the side of their neck was a vein that needed to be sliced. I sliced with the box cutter but didn't realize just how tough chicken skin is...[​IMG] all it did was to cut the poor thing just a little bit but no big pouring of blood like it's supposed to be. I cut a few more times but obviously was not getting the right spot. It was taking longer than I had wanted so I decided to hurry and try another method that I had read about--the broomstick method.

    I didn't have a broomstick with me so I just used my foot (also read this on the internet) placing it on his neck close to the head and gave a sharp yank on the feet. All that happened was the neck got skinned but the neck was not dislocated. By now I was in a panic (I have never, EVER killed an animal before) so I grabbed him up, brought him into the barn (away from all the other panicked chickens), stepped on his neck again but pressing a bit harder to prevent the head from slipping under my foot. I must have been stepping hard enough but my yank was too hard, this time, because his head came right off!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Oh My Gosh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! [​IMG]

    The rest of the day I was just sort of sick to my stomach over the whole thing. Needless to say, it took me awhile before I was ready to try it again but by then I had gotten the proper equipment. I bought a couple of killing cones (from someone on this forum), prepared a sharp knife, investigated on the location of the jugular vein, and set up a "killing station" AWAY from the other chickens.

    It took me awhile to do them all but 1-1/2 yrs later I have a very calm and efficient method of killing a chicken. It only takes a matter of minutes from picking it up to it's actual demise. I really love my chickens [​IMG]and the one thing I didn't want was to cause one of them unnecessary fear and pain.

    I hope others will share their learning experiences, also.
    2 people like this.
  2. DraigAthar

    DraigAthar Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 1, 2011
    Plainfield, NH
    Wow, that sounds like a stressful first attempt, I'm sorry it went that way for you. But I feel for ya! We just killed our first chicken this morning, a roo whose time had come. Hubby used to hunt ducks when he was younger, so he knows how to clean birds, but the killing back then happened when you shot them out of the sky. So we were both new to the killing cone and knife method. He was braver, so he did the actual deed, but I insisted I be a part of it because I need to learn, too. Our knife was not as sharp as it should have been, because he had to saw back and forth a little bit on the poor fellow. But on the third slice or so the blood started flowing like it's supposed to and he stopped moving very quickly. So I very much hope he wasn't in pain for too long as we fumbled with the knife. We'll get better in time, I guess.
  3. Life is Good!

    Life is Good! Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 14, 2011
    suburbia Chicagoland
    Thank you for these timely reminders. While we are all respectful of our flocks - it's good advice to know what one is getting into!
    Just like knowing where chicken wire works best (on my garden, never my flocks!), we all need to learn these skills as best as possible. Hopefully, you've spared someone some angst....
  4. 4-H chicken mom

    4-H chicken mom Overrun With Chickens

    Aug 3, 2007
    Oberlin, OH
    So sorry your first experience didn't go well. I am not good with a knife either, so a 22 bullet in the head works for us. :thumbsup
  5. Darin115

    Darin115 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 28, 2008
    Asheboro, NC
    I prefer to chop the head off with a hatchet. Works every time.

  6. Erica

    Erica Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 5, 2010
    Never mind; you learned something from it. Hopefully the bird's stress hormones tended to dull the pain a little. Perhaps you can look at it as a necessary sacrifice so you could become an amazingly skilled and humane dispatcher!

    Fortunately for every first time botched attempt there are plenty that go smoothly.

    best wishes
  7. bj taylor

    bj taylor Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 28, 2011
    North Central Texas
    when "very sharp knife" is mentioned, are there any specifics to the knife other than sharp? how long a blade does it need to be? do you sharpen the knife several times while processing one chicken? is chicken skin difficult to slice through?
    if you're using a cone, do you hold the head & pull down a little to better expose the neck? thanks for the details.
  8. mohillbilly

    mohillbilly Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 15, 2012
    Poplar Bluff , MO
    I use an 6 inch Old hickory butcher knife...If your knife is sharp to start with you should be able to do all the chickens you want without having to sharpen it, as long as it is made from good steel and not a cheap knife.
    yes when using a cone you hold the chickens head and pull down lightly to better expose the jugular.
  9. DraigAthar

    DraigAthar Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 1, 2011
    Plainfield, NH
    So far I've only been part of killing the one rooster, so I don't have a lot experience yet! But we are developing a breeding plan that will inevitably involve having extra roos around, so I hope to get better in time. Anyway, next time we need to dispatch one, I'm going to have some scalpels to use. The kind with disposable blades, so you can get a new sharp one anytime you need. We'll see how that goes.

  10. Ibicella

    Ibicella Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 13, 2009
    Everett, WA
    The two most important factors of a knife is it's comfort in your hands, and it's ability to withstand repeated sharpenings. I have to sharpen mine every two to three birds because their skin and feathers dull it down fast.

    I use Wusthof knives, and I love them. I use their pairing knife for throat slitting.

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