It's getting harder, not easier...


Eye see you...
11 Years
May 17, 2008
Here, there, and everywhere...
:( I'm finding that as time goes on and I have now single-handedly slaughtered about a dozen chickens, it's getting harder for me to do and I'm getting mighty slow with the axe to the point where the last three I did really did not get a quick death like I wanted. One poor soul got his neck out of the two nails in a panic after my swing and went flapping around my driveway with a broken neck, and then broke his wing in the struggle. I was crying, I felt so awful and I haven't done another since.
It was just a nightmare.

I hate, HATE dispatching with the axe method. I want to try pithing them but I'm scared of that too, like I'm petrified I'm going to mess up and end up with a brutally injured, still living bird. How hard do I have to stick the knife in? How will I know I did it right?

I have 8 more extremely large Cornish X out in my coop. They are about 15 weeks old. None of them have any leg or health problems as of right, they seem to be shockingly healthy. But they are eating me out of house and home (I have around 26 birds total right now and just since I put the remaining 8 CC in my regular coop I'm going through more than double the grain I was prior) and I cannot winter them over.
If I can't do the deed myself (my husband really has a hard time, worse than me) then I'm going to have to sell them and admit defeat and never raise anymore meat birds.
The meat from the ones we have done has been amazing and with our financial problems right now the meat is really needed. I just need to get around this and find a better way to dispatch them.
Someone help me please?


11 Years
Aug 8, 2008
I can only imagine!

I get the feeling that pithing should not be that hard now that I have seen a pic of inside a chicken's mouth. The groove is really obvious.

You could try it and have someone else standing by to help with an alternate method if it does not work right.

Pull what?

In the Brooder
11 Years
Jun 10, 2008
Olympia, WA
Props to you for providing for your family, I know I would have issues doing my own dispatching too. We are just getting started with our egg laying flock but hope to do some meat birds in a year or two.

Here locally we have several small farms and they will process your chickens for $2.00-$3.00 per bird.

Have you checked at a Farmers Market near you? If that doesn't give you any leads, maybe talk to the local butcher.


Opa-wan Chickenobi
12 Years
May 11, 2008
Howell Michigan
I'm sorry that you have been having so much trouble with processing your birds. I've found that the best method for me is pithing. I first hold the bird inverted until it relaxes. Next place it in a traffic cone. Then insert narrow knife or icepick into the slot in the roof of the birds mouth. Aim towards the back of the head not straight in. Next I use a pair of scissors to cut the jugular veins on the sides of the neck. Bird will not feel anything, no thrashing or flopping around. It bleeds out quickly and the skin will be relaxed and then there is no need to scald. You can dry pluck. Doesn't smell as bad as wet feathers. Good luck


Chicken Beader
11 Years
Mar 20, 2008
NW Kentucky
I don't know what to tell you except that I am sorry you are having such a time of it. If you are having difficulty with the axe method I would not try pithing for a couple of reasons.

1. Pithing is a lot more difficult to do a first time, especially if you are having kill issues, so to speak.

2. Pithing it not a true method of killing it is method designed for use with a special tool to immobilize an animal for live examination.

3. I just do not think you will be able to hold the chicken, stick a knife it and twist in the manner needed to not cause the bird undue pain and stress if you cannot whack the head off with an axe which is much faster.

Just my 2 cents worth. Good luck to you and I hope you find the method that works best for you so you can continue to process birds for home consumption.
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12 Years
Mar 1, 2008
Gladstone MI
The Pet Taxi Lady down the street helped me with mine. She always used a cone and cut on each side of the throat. I told her about pithing and sent her the link to read. We did 2 on a Thursday and she tried the pithing she said she wasn't sure about it. They closed their eyes right away but she still wasn't sure.

We did 8 of them last Saturday and I thought she had decided not to do the pithing on the 3rd one she pithed it right as the feathers practically fell out by themselves. The gutting was easier and the carcass was like a limp noodle.

I can't imagine the amount of force it would take to chop a moving chicken head off both mental and physical. I can only commend you for even doing it once. I think you are stronger than you think.

My brothers hunt and kill their own food and they said that all death should bother you some. That if it didn't you have become a very hardened soul.

I think if you tried the pithing you would find it not so hard. If you can chop the heads off the pithing should be less stress for you and the birds.

If you feel that you can't do it then I would go on your local free cycle or craig's list and ask for help with this in exchange for a couple of the birds. Some farmers would help you out in exchange for some home grown birds. The lady who helped me took an alive blue orp roo.

Good luck, I sure hope you find a way because I had my first home grown bird today and could not believe the taste difference.

I won't have mine killed any other way.


11 Years
Feb 24, 2008
Carrollton, GA
I intend to use one of these dispatchers. I've read that the wall mounted one fits a woman's hand better. The idea is to break the neck then immediately put the bird in a cone and bleed it out. The only negative I've read about is that a heavy hand can take the entire head off. All in all, it looks a lot more humane and a lot less traumatic to me.


12 Years
Mar 1, 2007
Maybe me and PC can come up and help you process the rest.
We're always in for a weekend road trip
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11 Years
Aug 2, 2008
South Central KY
Cetawin, you don't attempt this while holding the chicken, which, you're right, would be really hard to do if you don't have 3 or 4 hands. You either hang it upside down by the feet, or put it in a cone, like Opa and Ninja have described.

PB Peeps, I'm so sorry this has been so difficult for you. I couldn't kill with an ax myself, at all. I did 4 roosters last week, my first except for a mercy killing on an injured bird awhile back, I pithed all of them. It didn't go as smooth as I'd have liked, I know now I aimed too high in the scull. Now next time I'll aim straight in toward the back of the head.

Here's the thing that helped though. Once they'd been stuck, (I had them hanging upside down by the feet, didn't have a cone, but will have Before next time) there was no turning back. What I had to do was focus on the mechanics of getting the job done. I knew I had to finish as quickly as possible. So I sliced the jugulars on both sides and they bled out fast, and I removed the heads. I held the head down taut so slicing the neck was easier. The neck skin is loose and hard to cut otherwise, not because it's tough, but because it slides around. You cut just below the earlobes on both sides. (On an upside down bird, of course, that would be just above he earlobes. I'm sure you figured that out, but written directions can be confusing because they're hard to write correctly!)

I know they couldn't have been feeling anything after the brain stick. With a bird hanging or in a cone, they won't get loose and be flopping around the yard injured. That way, if it isn't as quick as you hoped, you have the option of a couple of quick cuts to finish them. Once the head is off, you know for sure they're dead, no matter whether they flap or not.

I hope you have an easier time with the last ones, or can find somebody to help. If you try pithing, get a small piece of wood or something to hold behind the head, so that if you push too hard and the knife comes through, you won' stab yourself in the hand. That hasn't happened with me, but I can see it as a possibility.

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