4 Most Humane Ways To Kill a Chicken (Step-By-Step Guide)

As poultry owners, especially those who raise flocks for meat, a process is inevitable: killing chickens. Of course, owners would have to go through this part at one point in the whole process of raising chickens for meat. For sure, owners want to do this activity in the humane ways available. Here are four ways to kill a chicken.

Best Ways to Kill a Chicken

how to humanely kill a chicken

There are many ways to kill animals. There seems to be more for chickens as they are small and creatures that are easy to kill. For flock owners keeping chickens for meat, they need to find a way to kill their chickens that works with them. This means they choose a way to kill their flocks according to their resources and what they deem is the best. Here are four ways to kill a chicken.

  • Decapitation – By the name itself, you can get the gist of this method. Obviously, it is to stop the chicken’s life by cutting its neck, thus separating the head from its body in a swift blow.
  • Gun/Pellet gun – A pellet gun may seem weak as you read it, but a pellet gun with enough strength to take out a chicken exists. A .22 pistol will usually do.
  • Cervical dislocation – This has been one of the primary methods of killing a chicken. Cervical dislocation is also one that has the benefit of having a bloodless process. This can be categorized into two: Snapping the head by hand and the broom sticking method.
  • CO2 Chamber – This is the only safe way of killing a chicken with the involvement of carbon dioxide. This manner of euthanasia is approved in killing smaller animals such as amphibians, birds, rodents, and other small animals.

In conducting any of the processes, there are things you need to prepare as well as things you need to take note of.


humane way to kill a chicken

When conducting this method, a sharp knife is essential. An important thing to note is that this process is aimed to be swift and quick. Therefore, the knife to use should be heavy and very sharp.

In conducting the process, you need to have someone with you to assist with the chicken. Doing this alone can be challenging and dangerous as you can hurt yourself while handling both the chicken and the knife.

It’s important to note that the process should be quick and quiet. This is to avoid having the chicken stressed. Be gentle in handling the bird so as not to cause a panic. The process can be bloody, and it certainly is not a good picture, but it’s very much foolproof and won’t hurt your chickens that long. This is as long as your knife is sharp and you swing hard.

  • Get your assistant to hold the bird.
  • Gently stretch the chicken’s neck to have a more precise spot to cut.
  • Finally, be sure to have the proper calculations. When you do, swing down hard.

Gun/Pellet gun

best way to kill a chicken

A .22 gun would be enough to snap your chickens. A Pellet gun also works as long as the weapon is a model that has enough strength. You should choose a powerful pellet gun if you want to conduct this method.

  • This process can be started off by wrapping the chicken in a towel.
  • Placing and positioning the bird gently on the ground.
  • Applying force via kneeling gently on the bird to restrict their movement.
  • Finally, use the gun to knock the chicken out.

Cervical Dislocation

how to kill a chicken humanely

While this can appear like the most basic process as it only needs hands and strength, cervical dislocation should be done by someone who knows how to do the method properly. In other words, not understanding will cause more harm to the chickens.

So, make sure to execute when you opt-in, following through with this process properly. A lot of people just carelessly break the animal’s neck. And so, this results in a painful death as it is not done correctly.

One way of doing this method is by snapping the chicken’s neck by hand. This is a very personal and hands-on approach to killing chickens. It can be challenging, especially if you are doing it for the first time. Nevertheless, here is how you should do it.

  • Hold your chicken firmly with any hand that feels comfortable.
  • Hold the head at the base of its skull.
  • Find and feel the place where the skull and neck meet.
  • Once you do, snap the chicken’s head downward and outward.

The process is pretty hard to describe, so you would want to learn by visual studying, like researching videos or actually witnessing this process firsthand.

There is also another method called broom sticking method. As the name suggests, you would need a broomstick for this process.

  • Place the chicken on a hard surface between your feet.
  • Place the broomstick behind the chicken’s head. (Basically just replacing your supposed hand with a broomstick)
  • Step down on the broomstick as you pull up the chicken’s back legs, snapping the chicken’s neck.

Again, before conducting this method, it’s suggested to do more research, find more references, or even try witnessing it in person for a better view. This is to avoid giving your chickens a more painful death because of malpractice.

CO2 Chamber

This is quite a tricky process, so it’s better to read more into it before proceeding with it. The process involves mixing up the vinegar and baking soda with specific measurements. Basically, enclosing chickens in small spaces and having them inhale carbon dioxide.

Killing Chickens at Home

humane ways to kill a chicken

Small-scale flock raisers usually slaughter their chickens at home using the most humane process available.

Suppose you choose to cut your chicken’s jugular vein. In that case, the next thing to do is to drain the blood naturally by having it hanged or having the head of the chicken positioned downward. It’s recommended to use a cone funnel for this purpose to drain blood more effectively.

Using a funnel cone also ensures that the chicken’s body is well secured while blood flows down. The draining process should take about 1.5 minutes to 2 minutes.

Decapitating the chicken will result in minor bleeding, making it more challenging to drain blood and making the feather plucking process quite tricky.

Scalding and Plucking

After letting the chicken bleed to death, the following process is to scald the chicken. What is scalding? Scalding is the process of getting the chicken through hot or boiling water. This allows the skin to soften up. It’s a way of preparing the epidermis to make it easier to pluck the feathers up.

Most people are familiar with this method, especially when they have witnessed or experienced slaughtering chickens at home. All you need is a basin and hot water. The appropriate temperature is 60 degrees celsius or 140 Fahrenheit.

Place the chicken in the basin and have it sit there for about 45 to 60 seconds. Scalding is done to open a part of the chicken called follicula. The follicula is the part of the chicken, along with the skin, that holds the feathers. Because of this process, feathers are easier to remove.

It is important to note that the plucking should be done immediately, right after scalding. When you leave the chicken and do not pluck the feathers directly, the scalding effect is lost. Another thing is that chickens can get stiff after being left outside after scalding. Note that proper scalding results in minor problems or no problem in plucking all the feathers at all.

Removing Everything Inside (Evisceration)

killing chickens humanely

This process is the removal of everything inside the chicken that will not be used for cooking or will be used for cooking other dishes. The parts to be removed also include the head and the feet, as they are usually not used for meat except for some areas where they are cooked and eaten, for example, as street food or local market food.

The body cavity is usually opened by making a cut on the bosom or vent (cloacae). Take note that you need to be careful not to cut too rashly. If you happen to injure the intestines, the chicken can be soiled with feces and fecal materials. Once the abdomen is open, you can then remove the viscera.

Washing and Hygiene

After removing everything inside the chicken, it’s time to wash them thoroughly. The table where the butcher conducts the removal process should be cleaned beforehand.

Wherever the chicken would be placed should be cleansed and disinfected to avoid having the meat contaminated. This is also true when you open up chickens for operation. Cleanliness and proper hygiene are essential and utmost requirements. [How To Clean Chicken Prior to Cooking]


There are indeed many ways to kill a chicken. Methods are usually approved by eligible veterinary or animal institutions and associations. Listed here are four ways to kill a chicken, all of which are humane. The rest is now dependent on the butcher whether which method is more comfortable and convenient for them.

most humane way to kill a chicken

4.7/5 - (526 votes)

7 thoughts on “4 Most Humane Ways To Kill a Chicken (Step-By-Step Guide)”

  1. About how much did that first rooster weigh? You said it took roughly 30lbs of force. I have a bunch of 8-10lb broilers to harvest and wondering how they compare to that rooster.


Leave a Comment