I Slaughtered a Chicken for the First Time (With a Little Lot of Help from My Friends)

WARNING: This post contains material that may not be suitable for some readers.

I really like to eat chicken. Becky likes it too. However, we’ve gone almost completely off industrially produced chicken. The cost of organic chicken is about twice as expensive as the regular variety here, and those aren’t inexpensive.

Since we’re going to be eating our chickens, I needed to learn how to kill, pluck and dress them. Becky has a friend who’s husband also needed to learn these skills. This friend of Becky’s has a mum and dad who have been raising and eating their own chickens for decades. So, on an absolutely fine Saturday, we all converged on a nearby farmlet for a delicious lunch… and a hands on lesson in the skill of slaughtering chickens.

From the reading I’ve done, I knew that there were a lot of ways to kill a chicken. This time, we would be breaking the chickens’ necks (See: How to Kill a Chicken, or How to kill, pluck and dress a chicken).

The small children were removed from the area and Garth and I were each handed an Orpington rooster. The method of how to break the neck was explained. I was up to go first. As I stood there, preparing to kill the chicken with my bare hands, I wondered: How is it that, at the age of 38, and having consumed some unthinkable number of chickens in my life, this will be the first time that I’ve personally killed a chicken? The answers to that question are far more disturbing than the act of killing the chicken.

Kevin kills a rooster

A lot of things that are wrong with the planet today can be explained by the fact that the vast majority of people in “developed” countries have absolutely nothing at all to do with producing the food (and in many cases, alleged food, or pHood) that they are consuming. Once societies were sold on letting food production become someone else’s job—and in the most horrific examples, left up to the state—that was it. Heretofore unthinkable nonsense came to be seen as efficient, healthy and convenient. Toil outdoors was no longer necessary. Better living through chemistry. The green revolution. Trust us. Welcome to the brink of oblivion.

If you’re reading this site, you probably won’t learn much from watching, Food Inc., but I’d suggest watching it anyway, especially if you have a hard time with the idea of killing a chicken yourself.

So, there we were, Garth and I, holding the lifeless roosters. Leila, the chook authority of the region, showed Garth and I how to dunk the carcasses in hot water to loosen the feathers. Plucking the birds took the most time, but it was actually easier than I thought it would be.

The rest of the procedure was pretty much the same as you might read in the guides linked above, and in books. However, Leila showed us a great trick for dealing with the intestine and anus that all but eliminates the chances of… an undesirable rupture. A few centimetres forward of the anus, gently cut a small opening through the skin (cut in the direction perpendicular to the spine) until you can see inside the cavity. This will allow you to clearly see all of the plumbing that needs to stay intact as you cut out the anus. Then use the knife and draw backwards to cut out the anus. There’s absolutely no guesswork using this method because you’re able to see exactly where the blade is going.

Thanks to Leila, Ken and family for having us over and teaching us such valuable skills.

3 Responses to “I Slaughtered a Chicken for the First Time (With a Little Lot of Help from My Friends)”

  1. We participated in chicken slaughtering for the first time a few weeks ago at a friend’s farm. After that, we decided to get chickens of our own for eggs and meat. I’m AMAZED at the number of people who can’t seem to wrap their heads around killing one’s own chickens- it’s like they think the chicken they eat never died. Bizarre.

  2. Good on you for taking back another piece of your food chain!

    We’ve had chickens for eggs for a while, and have been raising them for meat for about a year or so now. I’ve got 40-odd eggs in the incubator at the moment!

  3. Greg says:

    I went from never having killed an animal of any sort at 39 years old, to having the death of probably 50 on my hands a year later. Yikes! We too bought a small farm. On my death tally are mice, rats, rabbits, chickens – with 4 Muscovy ducks “due” in a week. And I’ve recently dug out the liver from a freshly slaughtered steer with my bare hands. From suburbia to this. Talk about having to drink some cement and harden up!

    Then this last weekend we lost our beloved and perfect Maremma to a paralysis tick. I dug a grave, carried her soft furry body to it, choked out some words, then excused myself from the family and bawled like I was 9. Now I don’t feel so tough, and sometimes wonder if the padded walls of a cubicle (and factory chicken) might be more tolerable.