Tips for getting through first cull.

EmmaRainboe

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I need advice.

The thing I am trying to overcome is, killing an animal that is perfectly healthy, causing no problems, and has the desire to live. I feel selfish for taking that away.

A while ago I bought three 2 1/2 months old "pullets" due to Covid I couldn't see them before bringing them home. Once I got home I opened the box and was 99% sure two of the three were actually roos. I confronted the lady but she insisted they were girls and wouldn't take them back. I got my first chickens at the very beginning of April so I'm still fairly new to chickens, but obsessed enough that I spend all my free time on BYC reading everything possible. She has had them for years. I figured "What do I know" and kept telling myself they were pullets till the saddles and sickle feathers came in. I bonded with the two of them, so giving them away is hard, let alone culling.

With my first batch of chicks I got straight run Ameraucana's (NOT Easter Eggers)
All four Ameraucanas, the single EE I had, and one of the cochin x brahmas were roos. I kept the brahma x cochin and managed to give the rest to breeding homes.

I was left with only two ladies so I needed some more girlies.

The three pullets I bought were supposed to be two lavender orpingtons, and one BR. I managed to rehome the barred last weekend, the other LO roo is still looking for a place. (They are not actually LO, they are blue EEs.) I don't want to give him to someone to be meat. I figure if his fate really is to become dinner, it might as well be for me. I have put too much time, money, and love into these birds, just to give someone a free dinner.

If I were raising cornish X I imagine this would all be easier for me. If I didn't harvest them, they would be miserable and have a hard time walking, not a fate they should have, and wouldn't live very long anyways. I also wouldn't bond with them as their purpose would be food, not eggs and company like layers are.

I just can't get over the fact that he wants to live and is not causing problems by living. I also don't need the meat, so I feel cruel for taking away his life.

Any advice on how to get over this guilt hurdle?
 
Last edited:

ChocolateMouse

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I don't think it's ever about "needing" to eat our flock. Chances are good we've gotten rid of all our chickens long before we can no longer afford food for ourselves. We CAN go to a grocery, go vegan or whatever. It's about what's RIGHT to do and what's PRACTICAL. Don't be fooled, cornish cross can live for years and have a zeal for life too. They're very personable and easy to get attached too. Roosters of all sorts too.

The reality is, you have a rooster. You can't keep him but your choices are your responsibility and he's your responsibility now too. If you buy a broiler from the store instead of eating him, what sort of life did it lead? If he is given away for free, where would he be? If he was wild, where would he be? If he were hatched in a hatchery where would he be? I think you know the results of most of those situations for most male animals - especially chickens.

And it's hella not easy. It's OK to be intimidated and have a mixed bag of feelings. It's OK to need support and videocall someone you trust. (I threw a party for my first animal butchering.) It's OK to cry before, or cry after. But while you're doing it you have to be focused for his sake.

If this is something you're committed to doing I suggest getting comfortable with your uncomfortable feelings. If you can, give yourself a week and name him "Food". Every time you see him say "Hello food. You will be food soon. I love you.". Take some time to acclimate to this idea - rooster is loved AND ALSO food. You can love the things that become your food. You don't need to show him a good time, just give him normal good care and remind yourself that he IS food.

Do let yourself feel sad, but every time you do, recommit to the idea that he's your responsibility. Do spend time watching chicken butchering videos until you feel like you could do it in your sleep. Do imagine yourself or mock going through the motions. Do go easy on yourself leading up to the day of.

And on the day of, take deep breaths, steady your hands, say thank you and get it done quickly so it's not painful or wasteful. And then be kind to yourself for the rest of the day - you did something very hard.

And at the very last - cook him well in the tastiest way you can for a bird of his size and age. Make it as good as you can. It might sound silly, but how disrespectful to go through all that and take an entire life only to not like the result? He lived and died for you and you're not even gonna enjoy that gift? No sir. Be grateful and do your very best to appreciate the life that gives you life every step of the way.
 

EmmaRainboe

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I don't think it's ever about "needing" to eat our flock. Chances are good we've gotten rid of all our chickens long before we can no longer afford food for ourselves. We CAN go to a grocery, go vegan or whatever. It's about what's RIGHT to do and what's PRACTICAL. Don't be fooled, cornish cross can live for years and have a zeal for life too. They're very personable and easy to get attached too. Roosters of all sorts too.

The reality is, you have a rooster. You can't keep him but your choices are your responsibility and he's your responsibility now too. If you buy a broiler from the store instead of eating him, what sort of life did it lead? If he is given away for free, where would he be? If he was wild, where would he be? If he were hatched in a hatchery where would he be? I think you know the results of most of those situations for most male animals - especially chickens.

And it's hella not easy. It's OK to be intimidated and have a mixed bag of feelings. It's OK to need support and videocall someone you trust. (I threw a party for my first animal butchering.) It's OK to cry before, or cry after. But while you're doing it you have to be focused for his sake.

If this is something you're committed to doing I suggest getting comfortable with your uncomfortable feelings. If you can, give yourself a week and name him "Food". Every time you see him say "Hello food. You will be food soon. I love you.". Take some time to acclimate to this idea - rooster is loved AND ALSO food. You can love the things that become your food. You don't need to show him a good time, just give him normal good care and remind yourself that he IS food.

Do let yourself feel sad, but every time you do, recommit to the idea that he's your responsibility. Do spend time watching chicken butchering videos until you feel like you could do it in your sleep. Do imagine yourself or mock going through the motions. Do go easy on yourself leading up to the day of.

And on the day of, take deep breaths, steady your hands, say thank you and get it done quickly so it's not painful or wasteful. And then be kind to yourself for the rest of the day - you did something very hard.

And at the very last - cook him well in the tastiest way you can for a bird of his size and age. Make it as good as you can. It might sound silly, but how disrespectful to go through all that and take an entire life only to not like the result? He lived and died for you and you're not even gonna enjoy that gift? No sir. Be grateful and do your very best to appreciate the life that gives you life every step of the way.
Thank you for this.

Also what would be the most humane method? I have heard broomstick is most humane, but you can NOT hesitate, and I'm not sure what kind of bar they are using.

The cone is really popular aswell.

Recommendations?
 

ChocolateMouse

Free Ranging
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Jul 29, 2013
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Thank you for this.

Also what would be the most humane method? I have heard broomstick is most humane, but you can NOT hesitate, and I'm not sure what kind of bar they are using.

The cone is really popular aswell.

Recommendations?

Euthanasia, broomstick.

Butchering, cone.

Butchering requires the blood to drain quickly. Putting down a pet you're usually trying to preserve the animal for repose and keep the owner happy and CD (cervical dislocation) is good for that. You CAN butcher with CD but it's a mess to try because you have to remove the head of a bird that's now flailing around if you don't just rip it off. :T When the chicken dies and the spine is dislocated there's a LOT LOT LOT of movement. I'm sure you've heard the term "running like a chicken with it's head cut off" - it's real. You don't want to be trying to catch a dead bird for 5 minutes trying to cut its head off properly... Like some sort of comical cartoon chasing a chicken with an axe... Nope. Not my preference at all, but VERY humane if you don't need it to bleed out, easy enough on the body for a 90 year old grandma with arthritis, and no sharp edges involved.

If you have good hands, my preference is to take a SHARP heavy pair of butcher shears, hang the bird in a cone, and cut the whole head off. Bleeding out can take a bit of time and sometimes you miss. I'd MUCH rather be certain and remove the whole head - so much simpler but causes more sudden motion in the dead bird. The cone contains the movement from the severed spine or death in general, assuming it's well secured. Many people prefer to take the head off with a very sharp knife, though, or an axe on a stump and wrap the chicken in a sack with a hole for the head to contain the motion instead of a cone, then hoist it up to bleed out.

It takes two times trying to close the scissors to do it. First cut you slide the blades along the neck to split the tough skin with the blade edges, and the second you cut through bone and tendons and it's over. It takes about 2 seconds total. It's a lot like cutting through THICK cardboard with the amount of effort it takes.

Still, expect a lot a lot of motion if you sever the spine. One time I had a bird manage to flip out of it's cone, throw itself into my chest bloody stump first, and then skip 30' across the lawn before it was finally unable to move it's own weight. All of this while totally headless. It's a bit unnerving to see something flail like that, but rest assured it's quite dead. That's a worst case scenario - only had it happen once in 8ish years. More commonly it's just some kicking/flapping for about 20 seconds.
 

EmmaRainboe

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Euthanasia, broomstick.

Butchering, cone.

Butchering requires the blood to drain quickly. Putting down a pet you're usually trying to preserve the animal for repose and keep the owner happy and CD (cervical dislocation) is good for that. You CAN butcher with CD but it's a mess to try because you have to remove the head of a bird that's now flailing around if you don't just rip it off. :T When the chicken dies and the spine is dislocated there's a LOT LOT LOT of movement. I'm sure you've heard the term "running like a chicken with it's head cut off" - it's real. You don't want to be trying to catch a dead bird for 5 minutes trying to cut its head off properly... Like some sort of comical cartoon chasing a chicken with an axe... Nope. Not my preference at all, but VERY humane if you don't need it to bleed out, easy enough on the body for a 90 year old grandma with arthritis, and no sharp edges involved.

If you have good hands, my preference is to take a SHARP heavy pair of butcher shears, hang the bird in a cone, and cut the whole head off. Bleeding out can take a bit of time and sometimes you miss. I'd MUCH rather be certain and remove the whole head - so much simpler but causes more sudden motion in the dead bird. The cone contains the movement from the severed spine or death in general, assuming it's well secured. Many people prefer to take the head off with a very sharp knife, though, or an axe on a stump and wrap the chicken in a sack with a hole for the head to contain the motion instead of a cone, then hoist it up to bleed out.

It takes two times trying to close the scissors to do it. First cut you slide the blades along the neck to split the tough skin with the blade edges, and the second you cut through bone and tendons and it's over. It takes about 2 seconds total. It's a lot like cutting through THICK cardboard with the amount of effort it takes.

Still, expect a lot a lot of motion if you sever the spine. One time I had a bird manage to flip out of it's cone, throw itself into my chest bloody stump first, and then skip 30' across the lawn before it was finally unable to move it's own weight. All of this while totally headless. It's a bit unnerving to see something flail like that, but rest assured it's quite dead. That's a worst case scenario - only had it happen once in 8ish years. More commonly it's just some kicking/flapping for about 20 seconds.
Is it dead within the first cut before you do the second? Or will it feel the first cut even if it's just for a second?
 

ChocolateMouse

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Is it dead within the first cut before you do the second? Or will it feel the first cut even if it's just for a second?

It will feel it for just a split second, which is why following through and being steady throughout the moment is SOOO important. It does take a moment for it to process what's happening and respond to it, brain signals are remarkably slow, so if you're fast it's really almost nothing.
 

3KillerBs

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The act of killing a chicken for food should certainly be approached with respect and a degree of solemnity, but there is tremendous satisfaction to be found in cooking a meal that you raised and processed entirely from scratch. :)

I've used the broomstick method for butchering. The blood drains into the cavity left by the separation of the spine -- neatly contained by the skin of the neck. I have not directly compared the carcass to one done in a cone, but I found no flaws in the birds when I cooked them.

I used a spare axe handle we had handy, figuring that the tool handle would certainly be strong enough. Any reasonable approximation to a sturdy broomstick is fine.

I was taught to calm the bird by tucking it's head under it's wing and rocking it. You *can* stun it by swinging it's head against a tree/post/etc. or you can take advantage of the tonic immobility resulting from the calming action and work very quickly.

Lay the bird down, get the stick across the neck, step FIRMLY on the stick with your weight right on it, pull up on the feet until the bird is fully-stretched out, then give a short, sharp jerk to sever the spine.

The cleaner the spinal separation is the stronger the nerve reaction that causes the wings to flap will be. This is, IMO, the most distressing part of the procedure and I have to keep firmly in mind that the strong flapping response means a clean kill. You'll want to hold firmly onto the feet with the bird upside down as the blood drains into the cavity in the neck.

Since I did not, of course, get this completely right the first few times, not knowing yet just how much force was necessary, I took comfort in the idea that after the first blow the bird was certainly stunned and I finished it as fast as I could.

If you pull the head clear off you know that it was at least fast, though it's messier and more emotionally distressing.

Once the flapping stops you can lay the bird down on a table with the neck hanging over a trash can and cut the head off. If you make the cut just where the neck was broken the blood that has already accumulated in the cavity drops into the trash too.

I'm not squeamish about gutting and found that once I got them undressed, either skinned or plucked, they looked pretty much like a grocery-store chicken (just skinnier for the packing-peanut cockerels).
 

Mrs. K

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Even those of us who have done several, have to work yourself up to it, and really the meat birds can be just as tough.

I do agree with mentally distancing yourself. I am going to tell you that I went to town, and bought chicken, and just mixed it all together the first time I butchered, put it all together in the freezer.

Once they are gone, processing is not hard for me now. It was a bit tricky and much mess until I got some experience.

Or if he is not causing problems, wait until he is, many of us have gotten the gumption to do this, when the rooster has turned into a jerk that attacks either us, or the pullets or both.

Mrs K
 

EmmaRainboe

🙄🤚💙Ameraucana Enthusiast💜
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The act of killing a chicken for food should certainly be approached with respect and a degree of solemnity, but there is tremendous satisfaction to be found in cooking a meal that you raised and processed entirely from scratch. :)

I've used the broomstick method for butchering. The blood drains into the cavity left by the separation of the spine -- neatly contained by the skin of the neck. I have not directly compared the carcass to one done in a cone, but I found no flaws in the birds when I cooked them.

I used a spare axe handle we had handy, figuring that the tool handle would certainly be strong enough. Any reasonable approximation to a sturdy broomstick is fine.

I was taught to calm the bird by tucking it's head under it's wing and rocking it. You *can* stun it by swinging it's head against a tree/post/etc. or you can take advantage of the tonic immobility resulting from the calming action and work very quickly.

Lay the bird down, get the stick across the neck, step FIRMLY on the stick with your weight right on it, pull up on the feet until the bird is fully-stretched out, then give a short, sharp jerk to sever the spine.

The cleaner the spinal separation is the stronger the nerve reaction that causes the wings to flap will be. This is, IMO, the most distressing part of the procedure and I have to keep firmly in mind that the strong flapping response means a clean kill. You'll want to hold firmly onto the feet with the bird upside down as the blood drains into the cavity in the neck.

Since I did not, of course, get this completely right the first few times, not knowing yet just how much force was necessary, I took comfort in the idea that after the first blow the bird was certainly stunned and I finished it as fast as I could.

If you pull the head clear off you know that it was at least fast, though it's messier and more emotionally distressing.

Once the flapping stops you can lay the bird down on a table with the neck hanging over a trash can and cut the head off. If you make the cut just where the neck was broken the blood that has already accumulated in the cavity drops into the trash too.

I'm not squeamish about gutting and found that once I got them undressed, either skinned or plucked, they looked pretty much like a grocery-store chicken (just skinnier for the packing-peanut cockerels).
Thank You for this post. I was wondering what you are supposed to do after the bird is dead, very helpful. 💕




Also a trusted breeder who I trust because her birds are such high quality offered to do the deed for me. For months I have been saying if he needs to die he might aswell feed me because of all the time, money, love, and energy I put into my babies. Now as I think deaper into it, I'm not sure if I would be able to put the meat in my mouth without gagging.

I had a Barred Rock rooster I rehomed last weekend. He didn't cause trouble but started becoming more dominating (never fought the other roos or me), he was a sweet boy but starting having his hormones kick in. He was a super big boy, and was trying to mount my teeny tiny bantam frizzle who fits in my hand. She is one of my favorites. While doing so he accidetally knicked her right above the eye and caused her to bleed. He was a sweet boy but the bigger he got the more I began to imagine him on my dinner table.

The blue EE I had hoped to find a home for, he is so sweet and submissive with other roosters but can also be an amazing protector of the flock, and would do amazing solo. I had hoped if I had to eat one it would be the Barred Rock, and if not then both. I have always heard how amazing happy homegrown birds tasted, and thought maybe I could bring myself to do it. After all, once they were both plucked I probably wouldn't know the difference between the two.

Now I know which one it would be. It would be my sweet boy.

Should I bring him to the breeder to do it for me? She is experienced and I am sure could do it fast and painlessly. Also I don't know how I am going to be able to help myself deal with the heartache along with my younger brother. I feel like he wouldn't want to eat Lilac, I don't even know if I could do it.

If his body is going to get wasted in my household his life was not used correctly.

I am from the city, I have never tried fresh meat. I have been imagining for weeks what eating homegrown meat would be like. Although in my imagination, I was not eating this rooster.

I am just stuck. I don't know if I should bring him to the breeder and let her take care of it, he will be used to his fullest extent, and culled humanely and painessly. Or try and mentaly prepare myself and my brother for the loss of our sweet Lilac, and the taste of him on our plates.

I suppose the first step would be to stop calling him by his name, and instead something like "The EE roo."
 

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