Hatch… and despatch
Don’t hatch unless you are willing (or know how) to despatch.
It is a mantra that I take every opportunity to drill into people when I’m out giving a talk to a group or discussing breeding and rearing birds with firsttimers. If you are not willing to take on responsibility for potentially needing to despatch chicks or growers then don’t hatch any eggs.
There are various guides on the despatch and dressing of full grown birds, but one which rarely ever gets covered in the popular poultry books is how to cull a chick. Culling chicks in a backyard or smallholding scenario is something you need to know how to do. Whatever the reason, and whilst this short instruction may shock some readers, if you intend to breed chickens then it is a skill you will require and you will know when you need to use it. 1. Find a table or work surface with a clear right angled edge; 2. Hold the chick in the fist with your thumb up as if hitching a ride so the chick’s head is just above the tip of your thumb; 3. Place the thumb against the neck of the chick and put the other side of the chick’s neck against the table edge; 4. Press firmly and quickly with the thumb against the table edge; 5. You will feel the neck of the chick dislocate. It is now dead. 6. The chick will be moving in your hand (as if struggling). This is involuntary muscle contractions and not actually struggling; 7. Hold the chick in position until the movement subsides.
Practising on a dummy chick
Not easy... but sometimes necessary