Butchering An Injured Hen
One afternoon I went out to the chicken coop to lock up the hens, give them fresh water and feed, and collect the eggs. I noticed one of my older White Leghorns had blood on her feathers. I inspected her carefully for signs of vent picking. She had a small spot on her back, but no other signs of obvious injury. I decided to leave her for the evening and check on her again in the morning. I prepared myself for the possibility of butchering the hen if necessary.
For complete tutorials on butchering chickens, please see my post “How to Butcher a Chicken.”
An ‘Emergency’ Butcher Session
The next morning it became obvious that she was suffering. It wasn’t a particularly nice day. Temps were in the 20s as I prepared to perform an ‘Emergency Butcher.’ Rather than let the hen suffer, I culled her from the flock that morning. Since one little Leghorn doesn’t provide much meat, I chose another old hen, a Buff Orpington, to butcher too. With two hens cooked down I can make a nice casserole, big pot of soup or stew for several meals.
As expected, the White Leghorn was scrawny and the Buff Orpington was rather fatty. Every Buff Orpington I’ve ever butchered had yellow fat deposits in the abdomen. Some homesteaders use the fat to render down and grease their pans or use in baking. I fed the fat back to the other chickens, along with the rest of the offal.
I don’t want my animals to suffer so the sick and injured members of my flock are put down as humanely as possible. Decapitation with an ax ends the bird’s life quickly.
If you raise chickens as pets, you may wish to take them to a veterinarian to end their suffering. However, for homesteaders raising their own meat and eggs, this is not a cost-effective option. Culling non-productive members of the flock is a viable way to provide meat for chicken soup and reduce your feed bill, too.