Butchering A Chicken-How To Harvest Meat HUMANELY

**Warning: some of the pictures may be graphic and unsuitable for some viewers, as it shows butchering a chicken from start to finish. Full video tutorial at the end as well**

Whether it’s home grown meat chickens, or that noisy rooster, a good homesteading skill to have is how to butcher your own chicken.

We had to learn how to butcher a chicken for ourselves, and that was a scary thing the first time. While roosters are beautiful and can be useful, we aren’t able to keep them due to their crowing. Wanting to be good neighbors, we made sure they didn’t stay very long. However, our regular chicken processor isn’t wasn’t able to take care of them, so it was up to us.

But, we pulled up our big kid pants and got to work. Here’s the rooster we did first. Beautiful, yes. Irritating as all get out! All day and night he would crow, so he had to go! (got my Dr. Seuss on there)

This was also a good skill for us to learn, as you will see in the video. We raised our own meat chickens, and butchering them ourselves meant we saved $3 per bird. After 50 birds, that was $150 to toss back into our savings account.

First, I will show you how we did one noisy rooster, completely by hand. The video will show you how we did meat birds with the feather plucker that you can get from my affiliate partner here. (scroll past the pictures to see the video)

To get started butchering a single chicken, you need to first kill them. Just cutting their neck is NOT humane, and it can cause them to have increase in adrenaline, which will ruin the meat.

  1. Take a knife and pierce the brain.
  2. You have to go through the beak and up a bit.
  3. Make sure your hand isn’t holding the back of the chicken’s head when you do this, in case your knife goes all the way through. Don’t ask how I know, just trust me.
  4. This kills them immediately, and is MUCH more humane than just slicing his neck.
  5. Slice the jugular vein, just under his wattle, and allow him to bleed out.
  6. Flip the bird over, and hang by his head to allow gravity to help you skinning.
  7. Follow the fat lines, slicing carefully to remove the skin and feathers from the body.
  8. Continue on down the body, and cut the wing joints and feet off.
  9. Remove the skin and feathers from the carcass
  10. Dig inside the neck cavity to remove the innards.
  11. Cut off the head, and Viola! A skinned, butchered chicken!






The chickens were given the best life possible, from being able to roam free and be the “best chicken they can be” and were harvested with the best practices.

Feel free to pin this to your favorite board for later

Got a noisy rooster or an old hen that isn't laying anymore? It may be time to harvest them for meat. Learn how to butcher a chicken in the humane way. The Homesteading Hippy

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19 thoughts on “Butchering A Chicken-How To Harvest Meat HUMANELY”

    1. glad you came by, Diana! We learned about piercing the brain from an Amish farmer just recently ourselves. It really did make the kill a lot more humane and quicker. 😉

  1. AND he will Not be Running Around the Barn Yard as in the “Chicken with his Head Cut Off” routine.

    ~ Mike ~

  2. Good for you! I have read about piercing the brain, but I wasn’t sure if I’d do it right. So I just chop the head off with a hatchet while holding them still in a feed bag with a hole cut in one corner for the head.

    You can still use the meat after simmering for a good long time. He would make an excellent pot of soup!

  3. We have taken our chickens to a family who would process them for us. Great tutorial on showing how it’s done! We really need to learn how to do it ourselves.

  4. Ann @ Summers Acres

    I love “pulled up our big kid pants and got to work”. We have not done any butchering ourselves, but still I have never heard of the through the brain method. This is good to know.

  5. I’ve never seen this done this way. I have seen the old – chop the head off and let it flop around way… It’s good to see the different ways of processing our food supply. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Thank you for the excellent tutorial. I learned something new and will have to apply this knowledge in the future.


  7. I always butcher chickens by pulling their head off. Even my youngster can do it this way: grab a bar, lay your chicken down, put the bar across his neck, step on both sides of the bar and quickly pull his legs up while applying pressure on the bar with your feet. Head is off In seconds. You don’t want to know how many chickens I could kill in 5 minutes

  8. Vanessa Rene Carlson

    Love your blog, we have several similar interests. Just found you through pinterest. We’ve kept chickens for about 10 years now (which makes me sound like I know what I’m doing but I so don’t) I’ve never had the guts to kill the birds myself. We’ve either traded plucking services for the butchering (with a neighbor) or found someone else to do the whole job for us. Maybe I’ll get there yet!

  9. Place the chickens in the cone. Their head hangs down enabling you to make a neat and tidy. Dunk chicken in the scalding tank. Place chicken in the culling machine. Make a sequential line. Remove the feet. Evacuate the neck. Gut your chicken. Have a can to dispose of guts and digestion tracts.

  10. Great I formation! I’m needing to thin out the liars at this point. Did you notice that the meat was much dryer when you skinned instead of plucking?

  11. Are you saying that chickens butchered by the “chopping off the head” method renders the meat not usable for human consumption ? ? ? I’m in my 70’s, butchered chickens with my mother using the beheading method and continued to do it this way during all my years of raising poultry. Ate a lot of chicken processed by this method and have had no ill effects. We use cones to confine the birds up-side-down. My husband cuts the head off using a sharp knife and the bird bleeds out completely. I never agreed with chopping the head off and allowing the bird to flop all over the barnyard. They get dirty and quite frankly, it is just a disgusting thing to do. My mother didn’t have cones so she hung them up side down with twines hanging from a cross-piece between two trees. Then beheaded – there was lots of fluttering, but they were secured by their legs and remained clean at least.

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