how to prepare (kill) chicken and ducks : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

I would like to know about the fastest and surest way of the first and most desagreable step of preparing a good recipe with chicken and ducks; I know many tasty recipes,but,alas,I don't know how to kill poultry in a proper way:most important for me is to avoid it any pain or cruelty whatsoever;I know that,to eat poultry,you have to kill it,which affects me most,but,is there someone experienced enough as to advice me how to do the dirty job without too much mess or pain for me and the unhappy victim? Thank you in advance.

-- Gabriella Garofalo (, August 18, 2001


Response to how to prepare chicken and ducks

I hate this job, too, Gabriella. I use the ax method like my mother taught me: take the bird to a block of wood(bigger is nicer, like one foot across), gather it by its feet and wings in one hand and stretch its neck out on the block. Stroke the neck a couple of times gently with the ax head to calm the bird and keep the neck in position, then when the bird is steady, come down with the ax. Nine times out of ten you get the head off in one swing. The tenth time, if you muff it, it's going to take another five seconds to ax it again. (I don't that extra five seconds cruel to the bird.) Messy? Yes, but the trade off is you know ABSOLUTELY that the bird is dead, and it was killed quickly. That's a big deal to me. I've tried other methods, but I like this one best.

-- Jennifer L. (Northern NYS) (, August 18, 2001.

Response to how to prepare chicken and ducks

too prepare chickens,,, take it out, for a night on the town,, limo,, champange,, the works,,,, half way thru desert,,, tell it that this is the last night it will have,, hopefully it will be so drunk,, it will laugh , and tell you,, "NO hard feelings" Let me know if it works :)

-- stan (, August 18, 2001.

Response to how to prepare chicken and ducks

Okay, here is our weird way of doing the deed. First, we got some old orange traffic cones and cut off the pointed end a few inches up. Then we hung the cones up by a chain or rope, whatever is handy. Catch your chicken by the legs so you don't bruise him. Put him head first into the cone so his head sticks out. Now, I prefer an electric knife. Zip and the head is off.(I won't tell you of the murderers in my family. HaHa) You will have to hold his head of course but as soon as the knife goes through you can drop it. We put a pan or two (old refrigerator crisper drawers are usually free from someone) to catch the head and blood. The chicken doesn't run around by being in the cone. The lower to the ground you put the cone the less mess with the blood. And then we proceed to the rest of the business. Not sure this would be considered "proper" but it works for us.

-- JoAnn in SD (, August 18, 2001.

A bleach bottle upended with the bottom cut out works like that traffic cone. Just cut the neck off, to make the opening large enough to allow a chicken head through. Hang the jug upside down from something, and go catch your chicken. Hang it upside down by the feet, and let it slide headfirst into its little final resting place. Very sharp butcherknife makes the final breath a quick one.

Hey, this is about as fast and painless as you can get in killing something. If you have compunctions about it, you may wish to look into vegetarianism.

-- daffodyllady (, August 18, 2001.

First, catch your birds. For this a useful tool can be a long piece of wire bent like a shepherd's crook, but with a very narrow U shape at the end - narrowest maybe half an inch, but wider further up, so you can scoop up the bird's legs in it, then have them caught in the narrow bit, which will be so narrow that the feet can't slide out. Can actually be a little narrower away from the end than it is right at the end.

Next, have your birds fat and happy and calm. This often doesn't work if you've been chasing them around with a piece of wire. Often a good idea to coop them up with minimal exercise and maximal food and getting used to people getting close to feed them for a few days.

Next have your birds empty. Makes cleaning them easier if their guts aren't full. All this really means is doing the deed fairly early in the morning, and having made sure you removed food from their coop the evening before.

Next, kill them. There are any number of ways to do this. All have some potential to be bloody, so wear old, preferably brown-coloured, work clothes. You do want to constrain them until their nerve reactions have settled down, or you'll have dead chickens running around - the night (day) not only of the walking dead, but of the running jumping flapping dead, possibly the stump-of-neck-spurting- blood-while-they-do-it dead. Better to constrain them. I'll have to think about the bleach bottle (or I'd guess even better would be some form of gallon bottle) - interesting.

Two methods I've used:

The first is clean but not foolproof - break their necks. Hold by the ankles in left hand, hold neck just below head with right - stretch until you feel neck breaking. Wait until tremors subside, cut off head. Disadvantages - neck may break further from head, closer to body than you want. ALso, while this is almost always cleaner, you may actually pull the head right off and end up unexpectedly with the running jumping flapping, stump-of-neck-spurting-blood-while-they-do- it bird right in your hands.

The way I prefer is to cut their heads off. I take a chopping block as above, knock two large (say six-inch) nails into it very close together. That is very close - the idea is to place the birds neck between the nails, and not have its head be able to slide through - a birds neck is VERY skinny when you discount the feathers, and the bones of its head aren't very big either. Take a bag - wheat bag, fertiliser bag, whatever, that's been washed and dried, cut a small piece off the corner, put bird in bag, head poking out corner. Put head (bird's) past nails, neck between nails, bird held breast down, stretch out so neck is long and flat on chopping block and still, cut through neck. You can use a heavy knive, an axe or tomahawk, a cleaver. I prefer cleaver - light enough to be controllable, heavy enough to do the job in one hit, long enough blade to not miss. OK, we have a headless bird - there is potential for the above-mentioned gory scenes, although the bag will help to constrain it. Good idea to be ready to hold bird with neck over edge of chopping block pointing away from you, hand holding legs on top of birds body to hold it still until tremors and nerve-reactions and bleeding cease. I actually do without the bag - more chance I catch a few blood spatters, but the bag can get very bloody itself quite rapidly.

I need to think about another idea - proceed as above for chopping off head, but use back of cleaver to break neck. When dead and still, then cut off head. This has possibiliities.

When birds are dead and headless and still, hang from a fence to continue draining until you're ready to gather them up and take them inside and continue butchering.

Point: make sure you have any dogs chained up where they can't see any of this happening. You don't want to upset guardian animals, and you don't want to teach others that poultry can be killed, or that you think doing it is OK. Gather up everthing afterwards - either bury heads, or cook and feed to pigs, or pluck and cook and feed to animals when the heads are not readily recognisable as part of your puultry. Throw a few shovels-full of dirt over any blood. Even if you don't have cats or dogs, you don't want to attract predators.

Or you could turn vegetarian - or lacto-ovo vegetarian. But my attitude is that if you keep animals you have to be able to kill them anyway, if only to put them down humanitarianly when injured.

-- Don Armstrong (, August 18, 2001.

All this talk of blood and mess,I hate this job as well,so prompted by a lady who deals with the adverts in one of our mags,I have taken it upon myself to design a device which screws to the wall and does the deed quick clean and easy. I am marketing this Humane Poultry Despatcher here in the UK.If anybody is interested email me for details

-- Rooster (, August 18, 2001.

I once let the chicken hang upside down and then I used a large pruinning shear. I opened the jaws up and slide it around the chickens neck and then slightly closed it just enough to where I could move it down next to the head and stretched the neck out. Then closed them swiftly and jerk down to pop the head off right fast. You may have to step back a couple of paces right fast to avoid whatever may come squirting out. It really seemed to be quick and painless, but I only killed that one. Haven't done any since in order to know if it always goes that smooth. Also it is a good ideal to cage your chicken(s) up for a few days and feed it a corn only diet until 24 hrs before butchering. At that time you only want to feed it nothing but water. This makes removing the entrails a little cleaner.

-- Russell Hays (, August 18, 2001.

Wringing neck:

The method is actually to pull the neck until you separate the vertebrae. Here's the method:

If you are right handed, hold the bird by the legs, upside down in the left hand. It is best to hold the ends of the primary wing feathers with the legs so you have the bird stretched out. Place the bird, breast against your thigh, and with the right hand take the head and put it between your index and middle fingers. Stretch the bird with a fair amount of force (not too much or the head will pop off) until you feel the head give way. Don't jerk, just apply steady pressure until you feel the release.

The bird will flap a bit but not much.

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Here's 2 sites on butchering:

-- ~Rogo (, August 19, 2001.

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