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Method for euthanizing chickens

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by petercriddell, May 17, 2011.

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  1. petercriddell

    petercriddell In the Brooder

    Feb 3, 2010
    I had to euthanize one of my birds recently. I found a method here on the BYC forum and thought I'd share my experiences.

    I read somewhere on the BYC forum that you could use ether to euthanize a chicken. I had to euthanize a bird so I thought I'd try that. Our chickens are pets more than anything else, and they have names. Neither myself or my wife really wanted to use a more traditional method, so we opted for this.

    I went to the local Wal-Mart and picked up a Sterlite clear plastic storage box with a lid (got one with plenty of room for a chicken to set in), a very cheap towel, and a couple of cans of automotive starting fluid (Ether). I think the whole kit set me back about $15. Might have been less if they'd had the Sterlite box on sale.

    I put the towel in the bottom of the Sterlite box, then put the bird inside, put the lid on, then covered the whole thing with a big, dark colored beach towel to make it good and dark in the box. I could move the beach-towel a little so I could see her in the box. The chicken calmed down pretty quickly. I did not want her to feel distressed in any way.

    I then soaked some folded up paper-towels with the ether, lifted the plastic lid and dropped the paper towels into the box on the side of the box she was facing away from. She stayed calm and made very little noise.

    She started to look sleepy after a few minutes, and I folded up more paper towels, soaked them in ether and dropped them in. There was plenty of room in the box so I didn't drop the paper towels on her, just in the box with her. She continued to get sleepy and I continued to add ether soaked towels to the box. After about 15 minutes or so she went completely limp. I put in more ether soaked paper towels and after about another 5 minutes she died. She kicked and fluttered a little bit as she passed, but I figure that was just some nerve reaction, as she stayed unconscious the whole time. I left her in the box for an additional 1/2 hour with some more ether just to be absolutely sure.

    This was not a pleasant task, and I didn't like doing it, but we just didn't have the money to have our vet do it. I can say though that it was not distressing to the chicken at all. She stayed pretty quiet and peaceful. Her breathing was not distressed and she seemed comfortable. Pretty much stayed in one spot the whole time. If you're like me and can't bring yourself to wring a pet chicken's neck, then this is a pretty good option. I hope this was helpful.

    I'll also note that it did take a little time. Ether doesn't work the way it does on TV. It does take some time, but it does seem to work fairly well.
    1 person likes this.

  2. sparkles2307

    sparkles2307 Terd of Hurtles

    [​IMG] Sorry for your loss and sad day. Glad that she was put down in a loving manner.
  3. chics in the sun

    chics in the sun Songster

    Apr 1, 2010
    Thank you for posting this. I have been wondering how to get ahold of some ether, as when I worked at a science museum with a chick hatching display, that is what we used for chicks that had to be culled due to deformities. This week my EE has had a prolapsed vent that I can't seem to fix, and I had to think about what I would do if I had to cull (she is fine right now, it just keeps popping out). I am in the city so I can't fire a gun and my neighbors would be shocked beyond belief if I used an ax. This would be a peaceful way to go, I think. [​IMG]
  4. cackydoodledoo

    cackydoodledoo Songster

    Jan 7, 2011
    Crazyville, USA
    I agree this would be a way that is much easier on the person and possibly the chicken. I would not recommend it or at least recommend that a person researches this method if they plan on eating the chicken. I am not sure how that would affect the meat. I am sorry for your loss and sorry you had such a traumatic day. I hope tomorrow is a little better for you. You sound like you really love your chickens as most of us do!! [​IMG]

    BTW [​IMG]
    Last edited: May 17, 2011
  5. ReikiStar

    ReikiStar Songster

    Really sorry that you were in that position. This is really good information to have. Having a humane method on hand is always something we wish we had. Recently had to have a hen put to sleep by the vet. Sadly, the vet struggled to find a vein and quite frankly, after that experience, I don't think of the vet as a "humane" option any more. That sucked! Worse euthanasia session I've ever been a part of (used to be an asst vet tech)...first session ever for my poor DH.

    Sorry for your loss, Peter. Thank you for sharing a kind way of helping them pass over at home.

  6. ladybug99

    ladybug99 Songster

    Aug 10, 2010
    Monroe New Jersey
    So sorry for you loss [​IMG] I recently put one of my chicks down this way... made me feel better that he went to "sleep" first
    Last edited: May 17, 2011
  7. sullivansteph

    sullivansteph In the Brooder

    Apr 17, 2011
    Where did you get the ether and how much does it cost?

  8. kelar

    kelar Songster

    May 22, 2010
    There is a lot of controversy about the humaneness of using ether/starting fluid for euthanasia - some people have "good" luck with this method and others have horror stories to tell. I'd research the threads on here about it before deciding it is something you want to do.
  9. jerseygirl1

    jerseygirl1 Crowing

    Jun 20, 2009
    Orange County, NY
    I personally had a bad experience with it - took FOREVER for her to go - so I do not recommend it
  10. HeatherLynn

    HeatherLynn Songster

    May 11, 2009
    Kentucky, Cecilia
    we put one down today. We did use the axe method. My dear husband is so kind to do these for us. Since this one was very much a loved pet of my sons I wanted there to be no fear or anxiety for her. ( my husband is very good about this always but i wanted to be extra sure this time) I used some herbals that I take for stress relief. I have no clue which ones worked but she was awake but super calm. She did not even flutter about at all. The axe method is difficult on the person but it is very quick for the chicken. I am glad yours went smoothly and stress free.
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