What is the fastest, most humane way to dispatch meat chickens?

Discussion in 'General breed discussions & FAQ' started by Lamanite Jim, Dec 17, 2014.

  1. Lamanite Jim

    Lamanite Jim Out Of The Brooder

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    A local poultry breeder sold me four hens (?). Well, three of them are now very large, healthy, crowing roosters. He isn't interested in buying them back. He will trade for three hens but they are three- years old and he doesn't guarantee they will lay eggs. Now my dilema is what to do with my roosters. I have too many roosters for my small flock and these RIR are very aggressive towards the hens. Sometimes all three will gang up on a single hen. I have asked a couple local chicken farmers but they aren'y interested in them. My wife says they should go in the cooking pot. What is the fastest, most humane way to kill chickens?
     
  2. chooks4life

    chooks4life Overrun With Chickens

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    I like the ax method, restrain them and off with their heads. Decapitation. Or breaking their necks works too.

    Any method can go awry though, especially in the hands of a beginner, so if you can, for your first home cull it's often best to get someone who's done it before and can show you how. Videos can help there too.

    Those 3 year old hens he offered you should still be laying, and if not, a kelp supplement should get them laying again. I have hens around a decade old still laying regularly, just mix breeds, even bantams. The only chook that really quits out hard and fast in my experience is commercial layer hens, which overproduce then burn out prematurely aged and die young before even hitting their prime. Even then, some of those will keep laying sporadically for years after the usual cut off date. At three years old, a hen is officially in her prime, same for a rooster; anything before that is still a developing young adult. You should get years more of laying out of them if they're decent quality RIRs. Many people don't even know most hens keep laying for so many more years, they've been fed generalized and often incorrect info about them.

    Anyway, best wishes whatever your choice is.
     
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  3. 11mini

    11mini Chillin' With My Peeps

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    The broomstick method seems to be favored here - lay chicken on ground put pipe or broomstick across its neck and stand on the pipe, pulling up on it's feet at the same time. Spinal cord severed instantly, minimal flapping. Then into upside cone and bleed out.
     
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  4. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    You should spend some time on the meat bird section, there are numerous threads there on this very topic. It basically comes down to whichever method you're most comfortable with and can carry out the quickest.
     
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  5. Michael OShay

    Michael OShay Chicken Obsessed

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    I agree with chooks4life. This kills them instantly (although firing neurons can sometimes cause the wings to flap around for a bit afterward).
     
  6. Lamanite Jim

    Lamanite Jim Out Of The Brooder

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    I am thinking a sharp axe will be my method. Thanks for the advice!
     
  7. Michael OShay

    Michael OShay Chicken Obsessed

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    You're welcome.
     
  8. gjensen

    gjensen Overrun With Chickens

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    A knife stick to the brain while they are in a killing cone, is efficient and much less flopping around. They will bleed out better once you slit their throat (after the stick). The axe has a tendency to crush the arteries vs. cutting them clean.

    The down side to the stick is helps to see it done, and requires a couple birds to get it right the first time, all of the time.
     
  9. chooks4life

    chooks4life Overrun With Chickens

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    Never had a problem with bleeding out after decapitation, but then again we don't use blunt tools, lol. A blunt implement would indeed crush rather than slice cleanly but if the animal is decapitated it will bleed out anyway.

    Note about the knife to the brain method, some people have had some pretty gory issues with that one, even when the brain matter is definitely damaged as per the ideal execution of the job. One description I read on that method had the bird raising its head and looking up at the person that did the 'pithing' while brain matter and blood poured out of its mouth. Wow, is all I've got to say on that one. At least it wasn't doing that unsightly flapping? No consolation to me, lol.

    Our mishaps with the axe still killed the birds, much less room for error, whereas a knife to the brain is debatable. Done right, it should of course be humane, but how does one determine for sure? One doesn't, it seems, one just assumes it's humane because they can't show you whether it is or isn't. Lack of knowing for sure is offputting to me. Brain damage on that scale generally does paralyze, but being paralyzed isn't mutually exclusive with retaining sensation and consciousness, though it can prevent the animal or human from showing that it can both feel pain and is conscious. That's the stuff of horror stories, IMO.

    If they're paralyzed by it they won't flap, but lack of flapping doesn't guarantee it's humane. If I've screwed up a cull I want to know, not think it's humane because the animal can't express its agony.

    Bottom line is, most methods can be humane when done right, but there's room for error no matter what they are, so we all do our own research on it and arrive at our own conclusions on what's more humane. That, and experiment. Animals do tend to suffer while we learn to cull no matter what method we choose.

    Best wishes.
     
  10. gjensen

    gjensen Overrun With Chickens

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    Knife sticks are cleaner, less bruising from the extra flapping around, the bleeding cut is cleaner so they do bleed out faster and better. It even loosens the feathers for plucking. you can line them up in cones, working efficiently, and quickly.

    I conceded already that you have to know what you are doing, and most need someone to show them. Otherwise, yes, you will get a few wrong before you get it right. An axe is certainly much simpler to master. Maybe the best for the first times, when the process is already a lot for a beginner. Then again, some would miss with an ax and make a mess to. I imagine theree are some of those stories around to.

    You would have to have experience with both to be able to criticize one method or another. There is always advantages and disadvantages. If the technique is mastered it would be easy to see how much better they bleed out, and how much cleaner the overall process is. Then you would be able to examine the arteries and see how one method has a tendency to crush and crimp, where some bleed out better than others.

    I would assume that most people are intelligent enough to sharpen the axe. Most.

    My intent was to offer the OP another option to consider. If you get where you have 25,50,100 birds to do . . .you start looking at getting better at it. I never saw birds flopping all over the place, or hung up flopping all over the place, slinging blood all over the place, as desirable.
     

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