4 humane ways to kill a chicken
Death is a natural part of life and you need to make plans on what to do to ensure a bird is humanely culled.
Death is a natural part of lifebut you need to have a plan for when euthanasia is the best option.
Euthanasia is an unpleasant topic for people who find it difficult to make a decision on when to end an animal’s life, but knowing how to do it humanely is a necessary skill to learn if you have poultry. Deciding when is the right time is always going to be the dilemma. If you are at all in doubt as to whether it needs to be done, then a vet will be best to help diagnose and dispose of the bird if needed. Factors to consider include:
• how old is the bird?
• what are the chances of recovery?
• will the bird be able to live a normal life within the flock? • is it free from pain and distress?
There are two issues around this last point. Research has shown that poultry can feel pain and distress but often don’t show it until very ill or even near death as their instinctive prey reaction is to hide any weakness. The other is that the decision to euthanise is sometimes made too late because the owner isn’t willing to make the decision.
Once the decision to euthanise has been made, there are a few options, but the decision needs to be made quickly. You can take it to a vet, get a trusted person to do it, or do it yourself, but whatever you choose, the bird’s death must be as humane and as pain-free as you can make it.
The parameters that affect how humane a death is include: • how long a bird takes to reach unconsciousness (and therefore be insensible); • if any pain or distress was felt in that time.
This is why cutting an animal’s throat and letting it bleed to death is not a humane way to kill it. There are rare times when it may be your only choice but it is to be avoided where possible. Scientists have shown that when you cut the throat of an adult sheep, it takes around eight seconds for the animal to become unconscious and it feels the pain of the cut, and the fear/shock from rapid blood loss. This is why cutting an animal’s throat is not considered humane under the Codes of Welfare for livestock and poultry in NZ, unless you are in an emergency situation and have no other option.
There are a number of options if you carry out the culling yourself, but any method should be safe for you and quick and humane for the bird.
The crucial part of euthanasia is making it as quick and pain-free for the bird as possible. By treating the bird with respect and using the best technique you can, you can be satisfied that you have the bird’s best interests at heart.
If you choose to cull the bird yourself there are a couple of methods which can be learned and done easily at home. There are other methods but in some cases they may involve equipment or more skill.
From personal experience the first time you euthanise a bird is always the hardest. Over time, it becomes easier. You know you are relieving the suffering of the bird, and you also know what to expect and check for.