Until this summer I had never killed another living thing (creepy crawlers exempt).
But after two raccoons got into my chicken coop and really beat up on my last hen… I had to.
I’ll recount step by step how we killed our chicken, Benedict. If you are squeamish I’d stop reading now.
First, let me say that we did not just up and decide to kill her. After she was attacked we brought her in to our mudroom where she stayed for four days. Her wounds were very deep on her back, she had a severe limp and her breathing was quite laboured. After much deliberation we decided that it would be best to end her suffering.
You will need:
2 people (we used three)
1 empty water jug (with handle if possible)
1 sharpened knife (I used a boning knife)
1 bucket (to catch blood)
We took an empty water jug and cut the bottom off. We also cut the top of the jug to make it wide enough for the chicken’s head. After we let Benny snack on some blueberries we covered her head with a sock (this is optional – it tends to calm the bird). We lifted her up and put her in through the bottom of the jug, head first.
Jen held the jug, my brother Keenan held the bird’s feet.
I took her head and pulled back the feathers on her neck to expose the skin. Feathers act like an armour for a chicken so it’s important to move them out of the way.
I felt around for the jugular but could not find a pulse. After 2 minutes or so of searching I found it. Jen and Keenan moved the jug so that it was hovering over the bucket.
I said ‘thank you’ to Benny for being a good chicken and for giving us the most delicious, wonderful eggs – and then in one smooth motion I slit her throat.
The knife felt no resistance and she didn’t make any noise. At first I turned my head away but then I looked back. The blood came out in a steady stream and lasted for only a few minutes. She twitched a few times and while I couldn’t feel it, Jen said it was very intense – like she could feel all of her muscles working. Overall, it was clean and quick. My Chef/Butcher brother called it ‘text book’.
Once the blood stopped we removed her from the jug, took off her hood and placed her in a garbage bag. We ended up putting the bag in our freezer until the weekend when we drove to the country and buried her. People asked why we didn’t eat her. With the wounds she sustained, I was a little creeped out to be eating something a raccoon had also chomped on.
There were a few tears shed that night. Me, Jen, even Keenan. It was sad to kill a bird that only 5 days prior had been healthy and happy. It was sad too, to see the consequences of my ignorance (I didn’t secure the coop the night she was attacked). But in the sadness you learn things. I learned that the next time I build a chicken coop it will be secure. We’re talking Fort Knox chicken coop. I also learned that I am capable of killing something. Perhaps that sounds weird but up until that night I didn’t really know if I could ever take the life of one of my birds. Finally, I learned that meat is a precious thing and it deserves respect. Lots of respect.
A month has passed now and I feel better having killed her. I know that we did the right thing and that we did it the right way.
I am proud of that.