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Need advice on how to humanely euthanize chick - Help please?

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by erinnyes, Mar 17, 2013.

  1. erinnyes

    erinnyes Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 28, 2011
    Hi! I'll see if I can describe this properly... I can take pictures if needed but my camera is old and it is hard to upload them!

    Basically, I have a chick with a serious leg issue. It seems like one of it's legs is "frozen" in a retracted position. As in, the one leg always looks as though the chick is sitting, and when it stands up the leg is up at it's side and it balances on one foot. The chick can't seem to extend the leg at all but it can move it's toes.

    I tried making a hobble yesterday, hoping that it would "pull" the stiff leg down when the chick stood and help relax it. However, this backfired - the chick just didn't move around much. Finally I took it off because I was worried it would make the chick spend more energy getting to food and water rather than do any good.

    What should I do? Has this ever happened to anyone else? The next thing I'll do will be adding Vi-Tal to their water and seeing if that doesn't help things, but otherwise I have no other ideas!

    If pictures are needed, let me know and I'll see what I can do!
  2. erinnyes

    erinnyes Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 28, 2011
    Bumping, anyone have thoughts on this? Or need pics?
  3. erinnyes

    erinnyes Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 28, 2011
    Well, it's been several weeks, and the chick has not improved. I was not able to fix it's leg, nor did the issue resolve itself with vitamins. Right now I am looking at the awful option of culling it. Unfortunately, the chick can't walk well, and as it grows I think it's only going to have more trouble getting around. It's bent leg doesn't even touch the ground, so it gets around by hopping on one foot. It's half the size of the other chicks, and struggles to keep up with the broody hen as she moves. I don't think if I leave it alone and let it live that it can live a full, pain-free life, and I don't know of any way to help it.

    Right now I am stuck between methods. I am squeamish about killing an animal, but if I'm going to do it, I want it to be as quick and painless as possible. I've researched it and decided on either chopping off it's head or building a CO2 chamber via these instructions:

    I would cut it's head off, but I am afraid I will botch it by accident and make the chick suffer needlessly. Also, how do you keep the chick still enough to do it? The chick squirms in my hands when I hold it, I can't imagine holding it in one hand and scissors in the other, or holding it down to cut it off with a hatchet or something. :( I have never done anything like it before and the idea upsets me, but I will do it if it's the best way!

    The C02 method is apparently painless according to the site, but I also feel the site is pretty biased. Has anyone used this method and had good results?
  4. Phoenix301

    Phoenix301 New Egg

    Mar 25, 2013
    Near Lima,OH
    Hello, i just joined here..so what a way to make an entrance by posting to this huh?

    I can understand what you are going through. My family has had chickens for upwards of 20 years. We've had our share of disease, emergencies, injuries etc and have had to make the difficult choice of putting them down.

    I have never used CO2 (never really thought about that technique described in the link) but I can tell you as a biology major that done how they describe it, CO2 would be painless. This does sound like a good option for a chick. The method described essentially suffocates them, but not violently. It would cause them to completely pass out first, (think of people who pass out on mountains when they are in thin air environments) and from there the animal wouldn't feel anything.

    For larger chickens (or if you choose not to use CO2) we usually opt to break their neck (more or less dislocating it) rather than chop their head off because of the possibility of botching it, and also is not messy and is more controlled. It is not as swift but is still very quick. We use something like a broom handle. Here you will probably need to use something smaller in diameter.. maybe a pen or a sturdy (and unfortunately named) coat hanger. The chicken is held upside down through the whole process. Do this on the ground or a hard floor.

    Have the broom handle (or whatever you use) laying on the ground ready before this. This should be done in less than 10 seconds. Take the chicken and hold it upside down by its legs and then lower it to let its head/neck to rest on the ground. The chicken's head should be resting upright (comb up), not to the side. Immediately take the broom handle and lay it across the back of its head where the head and neck join. Step on the sides of the broom handle and firmly pull upward on the chickens legs (you will not have to pull too hard for a chick). Do not use a jerking motion! You will feel a release (the neck breaking) and (not to be overly graphic..but since this is something you've never done) it's wings will start flapping. Stop pulling as soon as you feel/observe this, it is over at that point. The flapping is involuntary..I say this because I want to assure you it is not struggling or feeling anything.

    I hope this is helpful and I'm sorry you have to go through this! :(
  5. Suzie

    Suzie Overrun With Chickens

    Jul 9, 2009
    I have a young chick in almost an identical situation... I too am between a rock and a hard place right now....!

    I do give mine marmite every day in the hope that the situation it is in will improve...so far... not good.

    Mine too struggles when I pick it up.... no problems apparent with the feet, I did try hobbles but the chick was a month old before the problem emerged... I am pensive about ending the life of this feisty chick... but of paramount importance is the quality of life... IF I do end the life of this chick I will hold it in a towel and chop it's head off... may sound brutal BUT I am thinking more of the chick than my emotions....

    I am hoping for a miracle that will probably never happen

    Good luck in whatever you decide to do.
  6. erinnyes

    erinnyes Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 28, 2011
    Phoenix301, thank you so much for your detailed information! It was really helpful and I have a clear idea how to proceed with either method now. I will probably use the CO2 on the chick, but the "broom handle" method for adult chickens sounds foolproof and should I ever have to do this for an adult, that'll be how I do it. My biggest concern was missing with an axe or knife and doing it improperly the first time, and your way does seem to make it a lot more foolproof. Thank you. :)

    Suzie, I am so sorry you are going through this too. :( This is the sad part about our hobby, especially when they are young. I wish you good luck and hope your chick makes it!

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