Most humane way to euthanize a chicken?

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by ella&clara, Feb 12, 2015.

  1. ella&clara

    ella&clara Songster

    Sep 18, 2010
    Hi all,
    I am afraid it's time. As I described in my chicken had wry neck, as well as coccidiosis, over Christmas. She seemed to be doing better, and I actually reunited her with the flock--she remained very low on the pecking order but wasn't overtly bullied. She gained weight. She seemed fine yesterday but when I went to close the coop last night I noticed that she was on the ground. I thought she was bullied off the roost, and picked her up to put her on the roost, but she fell onto the ground. I realized something was wrong, and took her inside the garage for the night. I tried to feed her then but she was in a chicken-sleep-coma. Her neck is retracted into her body, and her head twitches about. It looks like the last case of wry neck, but worse. She can't seem to straighten it out to eat or drink. Last time she could eat and drink. I've been trying to feed her tuna and egg with vitamins, as that cured it last time, but she really can't eat. She can't peck at anything. Her head constantly twitches. I noticed that her crop was still full this morning (it was palpable) as if perhaps there's something neurological that's preventing the food from moving?? Is that possible? I also gave them a general wormer last month.
    So 1. Does this sound like a return of wry neck or something else?
    2. Is there anything I can do?
    3. Is she suffering--how do you know if a chicken is in pain?
    4. Is it time to euthanize her (the DIY version)?

    I wouldn't call her a pet, although she has a name. I'm not desperate to save her, but I do want to honor her living, egg-laying, and will let her go (humanely) when it's time. DH and I have had some interesting conversations this morning about the best way to dispatch a chicken--often I read about this in terms of butchering but that won't be the case here.

    I am leaning towards waiting till night, when she's asleep, hanging her upside down for more coma-effects, and shooting(DH is a good shot). He works in wildlife and can do cervical dislocation. Again, I want to emphasize that I want to honor her, and to let her go as peacefully as possible. DH said no to taking her to the vet for an injection--which I asked about only half-kiddingly.

    If there's hope of her recovery, I'll do what I can within reason. She's 4 years old.
  2. Eggcessive

    Eggcessive Crossing the Road

    Apr 3, 2011
    southern Ohio
    Sorry about your hen. I don't usually kill my chickens myself, but the method of putting them in a cone upside down, and cutting the jugular vein appears to me a good calm way to do it. This YouTube video is a good source, and done humanely:
  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    The most humane way is the way you can. You need a way that is sure and quick. Whether that is cutting the jugular, a hatchet and chopping block, the broomstick method, shooting, or some other method is irrelevant as long as you can do it without flinching where you just injure the chicken or even yourself.
  4. seminolewind

    seminolewind Flock Mistress

    Sep 6, 2007
    spring hill, florida
    I like your idea about waiting until night. I would use an axe. That, to me, is the best fastest most humane method. I've also used vodka to get them basically unconscious, then do it.
  5. MacCana

    MacCana Chirping

    Mar 17, 2014
    I second waiting until night time and then using a machete or ax to quickly end it.

    Just be aware that once you do, the body will go insane from the nerves. It will gain super strength and flap around uncontrollably for a few minutes. You need to either do it and run (or get covered in blood- which is pretty traumatic for anyone), throw the body in a bag immediately after - make sure you close the bag up too or it'll find it's way out of it- or just hold it until it stops moving.

    None of it is pleasant. But when it needs to be done, it takes a strong individual to realize that and take care of business to ease the suffering of the bird.

    Just know that you and your yard can get very messy in the process if you're not careful.

    And I'm sorry for your loss. It happens to the best of us. [​IMG]
  6. Feathyr

    Feathyr Songster

    Aug 21, 2014
    I would personally euthanize her. Chickens, due to their flock mentality, rarely show signs of pain because that will endanger their lives in the flock. She sounds as though she's too far gone, especially since her crop has quit emptying. I don't think there is anything you can do at this point.

    Haven't used an axe myself due to my T-Rex arms, but a neighbor of mine does - he has a very sharp axe used specifically for butchering chickens. He grabs the bird, stretches it's neck out, and lays it on a heavy stump with two large nails hammered into it. The nails are set apart just far enough to admit a bird's neck, but not wide enough to let the bird pull it's head back and cause an accident. He then grabs the legs, stretches the bird's body out again, and brings the axe down hard enough to sever the neck in one chop. Very quick and humane.

    The broomstick method is my preferred choice, but the downsides is that I have to wait until night or have another person help with the killing. Sorry to hear about your hen.
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2015
  7. rainbowrooster

    rainbowrooster Songster

    Nov 26, 2011
    I like a blow to the back of head and neck. Its fast, no suffering, no bloody mess or, cutting off heads.
  8. azygous

    azygous Free Ranging

    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    Go to the automotive section at Wal-mart and pick up a can of Engine Starter Fluid. It contains mostly either, which used to be used to anesthetize surgery patients back in the olden times. They used it on me when I had my tonsils out when I was a toddler. I've been using it successfully to euthanize my chickens when no hope is left. It's very quick, and basically, they just go to sleep. By the time they go into the death throes, wing flapping and leg jerking, they are already dead.

    I wrap the chicken snugly in a towel to contain the wings and legs, squirt a liberal amount on a cloth, and hold him and say my last goodbyes, then I hold the wet cloth securely over their face. They drop off to sleep immediately, begin snoring, and in a minute they go through the death throes and are then still. I keep the cloth in place for another minute to be certain they're dead, then it's all over.

    There's no violence or blood, and I get to hold them close as they go. For a DIY method, it's about as easy as it can be even if the chicken wasn't your beloved pet.
    1 person likes this.
  9. seminolewind

    seminolewind Flock Mistress

    Sep 6, 2007
    spring hill, florida
    I think I will give ether some thought. If it's that simple as holding a rag on their face.
  10. debp

    debp Chirping

    Nov 20, 2013
    Durango, Colorado
    Having learned to butcher chickens for the first time this summer, I agree completely with Ridgerunner. Most important is that YOU can do it, and do it quickly and well. The ax is just too much for me. I prefer a cone and cutting the jugular, but it took me a few times to learn to do it deeply enough. It can be done gently enough that the bird doesn't go through the strong neuro-muscular reaction of severing the spine, but it can take too long, if you don't cut deeply enough.

    I like the ether idea a lot for butchering a pet chicken or any chicken that is not suitable for the freezer or stockpot. Thanks for that info.

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