I’m not a huge fan of killing animals.
Raising animals for food means that there comes a day when those animals will need to be killed. Since we’ve embarked upon this particular journey, I’ve encountered myriad euphemisms for the task. Reviewing them, I find that I absolutely abhor the word slaughter, but one finds it used freely when it comes to animals that are killed for their meat and the word butcher is frequently misused to refer to killing. As much as it’s unquestionably a matter of semantics, I much prefer the term cull to be used wherever appropriate.
The term cull basically means sorting a group into two smaller groups: one will be kept, the other discarded. The cull is the discarded group. We are currently the dubiously proud owners of a group that needs to be culled.
We hatched 16 lovely chicks back in April. Those chicks are now almost full-grown; the hens are starting to lay and the roosters are starting to crow. Unfortunately, eight or nine of the 16 are roosters. There is no way we are keeping any of them. We are, however, happy to use them for chicken soup. In order to get from point A to point B, we’re going to have to say goodbye to the boys.
We’ve studied many ways of humanely killing chickens. Some processes are far more humane than others and it can be somewhat shocking to learn what folks consider humane. That being said, we have settled on what we feel is the best possible method for our sensibilities. It goes like this:
1. Catch the rooster
2. Hold the rooster gently on the ground
3. Strike the rooster firmly on the back of the head to knock it out
4. Place the knocked-out rooster into the kill cone
5. Slice the rooster’s jugular, taking care not to cut the windpipe
6. Allow the unconscious rooster to bleed out until dead
The key step here is knocking the rooster out before placing it into the kill cone. Many folks believe that the most humane way to kill a chicken is to chop off its head or slice the jugular, but the chicken is still alive until it has bled completely out. This process can take over a minute and it strikes us as very uncool not to just let it be unconscious for that part of the deal.
We made our kill cones today.
It’s a fairly simple little project that helps to hold and confine the chicken during the bleeding out part. Employing the use of a kill cone makes the task easier, cleaner, and calmer for everyone involved–especially the chicken.
All we needed for the job was a piece of flashing, a tin snips, a tape measure, a Sharpie, and some Gorilla tape.
We started with the flashing that we cut to 30″ long and 16″ wide. We then marked the center of the flashing at the top. At the bottom, we measured two inches from the center on either side. We drew a line from each top corner which we connected to the bottom marks.
Cutting along those diagonal lines, we had the basic shape for rolling our cone.
That was the tricky part.
Rolling the cone requires a) patience and b) a good pair of work gloves. The freshly-cut edges of the flashing are sharp and you have to manipulate them for a while. We used Gorilla tape to cover all the exposed edges and to hold the cone into the required cone shape. When we were done, it looked pretty solid.
It’s important to line both the inside and outside edge with tape to avoid an unwanted cut on yourself or your bird.
In Part Two of this blog post, we’ll use this cone to finish the roosters. Join us then!