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.

NZ Lifestyle Block - - Contents - WORDS SUE CLARKE

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.

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