Essential guides: humane poultry dispatch
Covering such a taboo subject is always very difficult but at Pocket Farm we believe that it would be irresponsible not to include some guidance on this sensitive subject.
Dispatch of your birds will always be hugely emotive but the fact is, as a poultry keeper, there will come a time when for one reason or another you will have reason to euthanise a bird. Whether this is down to sudden onset of a serious illness, an overabundance of cockerels or that the bird is to be used as meat is immaterial, what does matter is that you are confident and proficient enough to carry out the task as efficiently and humanely as possible.
We would certainly not discourage anyone from taking an ailing pet chicken to the vet to be put to sleep with gas or injection if you would prefer this course of action. Similarly, if you know someone who is more experienced in such matters and is happy to do the job for you then by all means you should take that option.
However, for anyone with more than a handful of birds such as breeders, egg producers or those keeping birds for meat we would suggest that, at the very least, you should have the skills should an emergency arise.
First and foremost the process should be as humane and free of trauma as possible and this can only be achieved if you are confident in your ability to dispatch effectively. Remember large or heavily feathered birds, for instance, will need to be handled differently to small or younger ones.
The Humane Slaughter Association (HSA) has very detailed advice on best practice for smallholders which should be followed wherever possible but their ideal scenario (stunning followed by bleeding out or neck dislocation) involves the use of very expensive equipment which would be beyond the means of most small-scale keepers.
In reality, for chickens at least, the tried and tested ‘broomstick method’ of neck dislocation, when used confidently, is both quick, efficient and humane. You can find a full description of the method Poultry Dispatch Guide – please do not read if you are likely to be upset by the graphic nature of the content – but we would wholeheartedly recommend that you attend a poultry dispatch class to master the best method for your particular type of poultry. These take place across the country so you should be able to find one locally.
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