Aussies Living Simply

Killin' chickens

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    There is an easier way to break the neck, and I do it all the time (when necessary, I mean). ๐Ÿ™‚

    You don’t need to cut the throat. The bird bleeds into the neck cavity and it is a quick and, I think, humane death.

    I’ll set it out as a series of steps.

    1. Collect bird from roost the night before and put him in a small cage with no access to food, but with a water container. Sitting this near the general pen helps keep the bird calm; letting 12 hours pass helps empty the gut.

    2. Some time next afternoon, or earlier if you must, take the bird and hold him by the legs, head pointed down, resting the head on the ground so the beak is flat against the ground.

    3. Lay a broom handle gently across the back of his neck. This won’t hurt him; it’s just a steady pressure. When you’re ready, and only when you’re ready, step down on either side of the broom handle firmly and pull up the legs/body fast and firmly enough to hear and feel a click in the neck. If you do this firmly without overdoing it, the neck will dislocate right away and you’ll feel it happen. A little practice is required, but only as much as using an axe, if that.

    4. Dry plucking is far easier and less smelly รขโ‚ฌโ€ if the bird has been relaxed and killed swiftly using the above method (and at the right age รขโ‚ฌโ€ I can give heaps more info on that if anyone wants), the feathers will be a little looser than if using the axe. However some breeds have firmer-set feathers anyway (like commercial meat birds, especially if grown out past the commercial use-by age!). Start at the large wing feathers once the bird has stopped fluttering, and only take a few at a time, steadily pinching over the breast and tender areas รขโ‚ฌโ€ร‚ย a pinching motion lets you pull feathers without tearing skin. If the bird is young the skin will tear easily; older birds have tougher skin.

    5. An alternate option, and one I use (because we poach our chicken, not roast), is to hang the bird by the legs and tear the skin off รขโ‚ฌโ€ very easy, very quick, very effective and clean. On a young relaxed cockerel skinning takes perhaps a minute. This also exposes the vent more clearly and you can grip the parson’s nose via its feathers to do a cleaner job of eviscerating.

    If I can harp on a bit further, all methods take practice รขโ‚ฌโ€ forgive yourself if you muck something up, as your heart’s in the right place.



    Thanks Chooken, that’s great advice and if I was going to do it again I’d definitely try it that way.

    Killing them myself has had the unfortunate effect of removing any desire I had to eat my own chickens. I just can’t do it any more – I might as well be trying to swallow a slug :shrug: . I guess I’ll be buying organic chooks from the supermarket from now on.


    yeah but how long would that process take 12 hours? Overnight? ..for those not in the know it may as well be rocket science ๐Ÿ˜†


    Bleeding out takes about 10 minutes, max, the way I do it … the body remains active after death and that pumps the blood out of the arteries, into the veins from which the blood drains


    well done chooken!

    i too use this method, killing is killing!

    slaughtering your own food is not a pleasant business

    we can do it by proxy from the supermarket or take responsibilty for be a carnivore/omnovore!

    the ethical question of factory farming will be challenged if we take responsibility for our own food


    Thanks for the update Rebecca. I was wondering how you went.

    At least you can say you tried it. I haven’t talked myself into it yet, but with a few too many cockerels this year I know I’m going to have to do something about it. ๐Ÿ˜ฎ


    FeyWind wrote:

    Brisnewbies – maybe you could come over to my place. I can kill and gut, I just hate plucking – too fiddly and smelly. ๐Ÿ˜€

    Haha…yeah it is messy and the smell is definately weird and all permeating! But I find that if they are dunked into boiling temperature water as soon as they are killed and you work fast that it’s not so bad. Wet feathers is THE most disgusting smell! I was one of those weird kids who loved science and I needed to know how things worked and what was inside … I found it interesting when I gutted fish to see all its inner workings and the same with chickens. We had a few layers so it was really exciting when they were slaughtered and there were unlayed eggs inside. They just looked like a large collection of egg yolks! Besides – I find supermarket chicken smells worse than a freshly slaughtered one. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m weird…I know. ๐Ÿ˜‰


    I grew up gutting fish – my Dad was mad on fishing and every holiday involved going somewhere where he could fish and getting up early every morning. I wouldn’t trust my kids with knives at the age where I would gut and scale fish. ๐Ÿ˜€

    So gutting chickens for me was just like gutting fish – just bigger most of the time – but fish don’t have feathers! ๐Ÿ˜‰


    Wow… very informative thread this one is! I still wondered if I would be ‘brave’ enough to do this deed when the day comes! :shrug:

    I’ve gutted fishes and it is not so pleasant, so I can imagine how bigger and messy chooks could be…

    Kudos to all who did went ahead and do the deed without hesitating!

    I just need to find that phone number of that mobile butcher! ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Cheers! :hug:


    LOL @ mobile butcher. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    We started to ‘process’ our roosters last year. We’d only eaten fish (mainly caught by ourselves or family) for well over 10 years, so this was a big step! Our diet is like 90% vego, and we’d even been vegan for awhile.

    The first times dh used the axe. DDs 11 and 12 years did the plucking. DH did the gutting, washed the bird and presented to me in the kitchen. I had NO idea what to do with it, LOL. Figured out the cooking (with help from DH) and almost all the family ate the result. We made 1 roast chook (cockerel) and soup (older rooster). Then stock from the roast carcass. And the cats ate the goodies like the necks etc. I didn’t eat any the first couple of times. ๐Ÿ™ In theory I agreed, but when it came to it, I couldn’t eat the meat. Not only ‘cos it’s homegrown, as I only ate seafood for around 15 years prior anyway, actually chewing chicken was a bit ewwww after so long.

    Now DH uses the neck breaking method. With the last ones, we plucked one and skinned one. #2 is still in the freezer. He has dark meat and I’m not sure how to cook him. Ideas, anyone? I think he had some Silkie in him, hence the “blue” legs and darker meat.

    I have the hang of the roast now. And the soup. But haven’t tried any other chicken recipes or cooking methods yet.

    We have 6 or 7 roosters to process soon. I think we’ll skin these too, as plucking is the worst part, it seems to take us forever.


    Darls – I guess my parents always got us involved – I don’t really like getting dirty (no mud fights for me) but yet I will go fishing and bait my own hook, then get dirty gutting and scaling the fish … I also garden with my bare hands (without gloves that is) and I get dirt stuck under my nails … and … in my diamond engagement ring the first few times (don’t tell the HTB) :shy: I just didn’t think of even being squeamish – I just did it as if I didn’t have a choice because if I imagined that I was back 60 or so years I wouldn’t have a choice – I’d HAVE to. ๐Ÿ™‚ Just imagine yourself back in “pioneer” times hehehe … 0f course I do rush off to get into the shower as soon as I am done with all the “icky” work ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Bella – I know not many people think it but you can cook a roast chicken in a slow cooker if you have one? Or you can make a chicken casserole and cook it on low heat in the oven for a few hours (2-3). With the casserole that way you can include lots of fresh vegies, garlic and herbs and you get the most amazing flavour and the meat literally falls off the bone!


    I’ve just done 2 roosters using Chooken’s method, and it worked really well. I didn’t keep them away from food overnight, but was fine cleaning them out (just a lot of grain in the gizzard – so that’s why the chooks were going through so much food :lol:). I skinned rather than plucked.


    When killing chickens on my own I found the most useful tools were the sleeve off an old workshirt and a piece of baling twine.

    Insert the chook into the sleeve so it’s head pokes out the cuff. Put the chopping block next to the clothes line/pergola upright/handy tree. Tie the bale twine around it, then loop a noose around the chooks head. Hold chook by it’s feet with neck stretched over the block. this holds chooks head steady.

    Use a sharp axe.

    Instead of plucking I generally just skin them. Much less fuss and mess, and it removes all temptation to eat that yummy yet bad for you skin.

    Good LiferGood Lifer

    I’m in the “if I can kill an animal (swiftly & as humanely as possible) then I have earnt the right to eat it” camp. And I certainly don’t like to do it, but I see no reason why I should not also suffer a little in the process – after all, I am taking an animals life. Consequently, I eat only poultry and fish, as I just could not kill a beast. I also believe this is a very personal choice, and one that each person must make for themselves.

    So, I use the axe. It’s bloody, and a bit brutal, but it’s fast and I’m accurate, and I know if the head is on one side of the chopping block, and the body is hanging on the fence to drain, then it is well and truly dead (despite the flapping and jumping about). And I’m also a plucker… but I use a towel in a big bucket – place the bird in the towel, wrap him in the towel, and pour hot water over the top of him. A few minutes and all his pores are nicely steamed open and I can pluck pretty swiftly. Smelly, yes.

    Then I neatly cut around the anus, and cut the connections at the neck end, and then gently get my hand in and pull the lot – neck to anus – out in one complete go.

    Then he spends time in the stock pot, as my boys are mainly soupers. I use the meat for sandwiches and to add back to the chicken soup when I make it.

    Very interesting thread – thanks for sharing your various approaches to this one. ๐Ÿ™‚


    DH killed his first roosters on the weekend (axe method) We did the hold upside down method to calm chook and that worked ine. However DH had to put a little hood on the chicken so it wasn’t looking at him :p . But we’re getting there – 6 months ago he couldn’t bear the thought of wielding the axe (he’s the woose !) so I’m very proud of him


    Another ALSer (E) taught me how to do the deed thanks E :kiss: you’ll be happy to know I got all the innards out no prob so you’re a good teacher :tup:

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