Humane Poultry Killer (from Morrigan)

Discussion in 'Poultry, Domestic Livestock, Pets, & Bees' started by Mark, Sep 5, 2013.

  1. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    I've just purchased and tried my new humane poultry killer so I thought I would share my review and experience with the device.

    Firstly, for some time now I have been using a killing cone fixed to a post and whilst this has been easier (and safer) than the chopping block method of slaughtering a chicken it still required a rather violent removal of the head with a sharp knife.

    Therefore, I was keen to find out if there were any tools available which made the process of killing a chicken or other large poultry not only easier but less stressful for the bird. And when I found this device (the humane poultry killer sold by Morrigan Farm, I was keen to give it a try.

    Essentially, this device is mounted on a post or tree and is a neck breaker. The humane poultry killer is designed to break the neck of the bird killing it instantly. The skin is not supposed to be cut or the head removed, making the job less messy and much less stressful for both the bird and the person.

    I have my poultry killer fixed to a "killing post" where I have already mounted my killing cone. It's positioned at about waste high so the leaver/handle can be comfortably operated.

    There is a purpose made gap in the neck resting area so when the handle is closed it cannot sever the bird's head. This gap can be adjusted for different sized birds - I closed the gap to about 8 mils and found it worked perfectly.

    The device is cast iron and cost $70 postage included (also came with mounting screws).

    Procedure

    Step 1 - Calmly get your bird (in this case I needed to process 4 roosters from my last hatching) I went down to the pen the night before and isolated the 4 roosters from the rest of the flock by putting them into a small holding pen. At night chickens are easy to catch and will not move because they can't see very well. Now that the birds were isolated, it was a simple matter of going to the pen and selecting a bird.

    Step 2 - Lift the humane poultry killer handle up and then grip the lower legs of the bird just above the feet securely. Position the bird so the neck rests across the "U" resting area from left to right. The bird should just calmly sit there and will likely not have a clue what's going on.

    Step 3 - Firmly and swiftly press the handle downwards until it stops as the bolt rests on the stopper and hold it in position. The bird will probably flutter and convulse a little bit but it will have been instantly knocked out and killed.

    Step 4 - Hang the bird by the feet so the blood and fluids drain into the neck and head cavity - you should not see much blood (if any) coming from the bird.

    Step 5 - Process the bird for eating etc as normal.

    Here are some images of how my device is setup:

    Killing post with humane poultry killer and killing cone

    killing post with humane poultry killer and cone.jpg

    morrigan humane poultry killer.jpg

    Job done!

    humane poultry killer mounted on post plus killing cone.jpg

    * You can purchase the humane poultry killer direct from the makers website http://www.morriganfarm.com.au/
     
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2015
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  2. stevo

    stevo Backyard Farmer Premium Member

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    Interesting info there Mark. I did have hesitation opening the thread at first because i thought there may be a video involved and was releived when there wasn't. While i understand and don't have anything against it as these things have to be done, it's a bit of a sad subject. I couldn't imagine putting Chucky Poo Pants in it :eek:

    On a brighter note, it looks good quality, it still looks like it's a bit of a guilotine effect but i assume because of the rounded edged and the gap that it doesn't cut and just pushes and squeezes the neck.

    I don't want to know how the cone works :cantsay:
     
  3. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    Yeah, I can't say I am getting used to it - I don't know if a normal person could.

    I justify slaughtering my own poultry by knowing they have had a good life and often a longer one than the commercial farm hens. Same with my quail and ducks but I haven't done a duck yet.

    It is a guillotine type tool and the instructions which come with it call it a guillotine too; however, it does not cut anything or even break the skin so I would call it a neck breaker more than a guillotine.

    I'm very happy with it actually because the alternative methods (like the cone) is a fair bit harder to do precisely but this tool makes the job safer for the person and less stressful for the bird - IMO anyway.
     
  4. Steve

    Steve Valued Member Premium Member

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    I saw one of these in action on TV, i think it was the River Cottage Australia show on Foxtel. I thought they were excellent and most humane. I've also seen the cone used on a show and agree the guillotine is much better.

    Good on you for seeking out a better method for a difficult job.
     
  5. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    They showed it actually being used on TV - in detail?

    I did see the cone method used on Gourmet Farmer but they didn't show the "cutting bit" just him doing it with his back to the camera and then a shot of the chicken after.
     
  6. Steve

    Steve Valued Member Premium Member

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    Yeah I think they showed 99% of the procedure with the guillotine but maybe 90% with the cone. Pretty graphic from memory but I handled it ok whereas the wife ducks in behind a pillow till I give the all clear.
     
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  7. Steve

    Steve Valued Member Premium Member

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    Just a question, can this tool be used for your quails too or are they too small?
     
  8. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    You're right - too small. I guess a mini one could be made for quail and other small breeds.
     
  9. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    I did knock up a video but there isn't any footage of the actual process only an explanation - I still understand if people would rather not watch it though as it is a dreary subject...

     
  10. Cindy Anderson

    Cindy Anderson Member

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    I guess I am an oddity. But I wish you had shown the kill.... or have another video with the killing process. I think I would like to find one of these in the US, or perhaps figure out how to fabricate one if I can't. But first, I would like to see if I feel it is humane in process. I figure watching a video would not be any more difficult than doing it myself. For good clean and humanely handled meat, it is what we have to do, I guess.
     
  11. Cindy Anderson

    Cindy Anderson Member

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    Watching your videos now. glad I found you. I like all I have seen so far.
     
  12. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    Thanks Cindy and welcome to SSC.
     
  13. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    I'd like to have shown the full process but I didn't want to inadvertently offend.

    Nevertheless in the video I did make the explanation shouldn't leave too much to the imagination I wouldn't think. I'm happy to discuss it more if you like no problems.
     
  14. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    This excellent question was asked via email:
    Firstly, to the "bleeding" of the bird - I haven't found any difference in meat quality between a chicken killed via this neck breaking device or one which has had the head removed or neck artery cut. I believe this is because when the humane poultry killer (or any other method) is used to break the neck of the chicken and then the bird subsequently hung by the feet the blood is drained into the neck and head cavity. Later when the bird is butchered and head is removed I have noticed a pooling of blood around the neck and head area which seems to prove the theory.

    There is no need to break the neck of the bird and then immediately sever the artery - in my opinion.

    With regards to using a cone to hold the chicken in conjunction with the neck breaking device placed on the horizontal, I think it would definitely work and is a really good idea! However, you would have to make sure the Morrigan tool was well positioned and close to the cone hole to easily accommodate the neck of the bird through the "U" resting area.

    When using the cone I've noticed most of my chickens withdraw their neck rather then hang their neck down and the reality of this means one had is needed to gently pull the head down to expose the neck whilst the other hand cuts - sorry for the grim mental image. Whereas using the neck breaking device conventionally, I have found the chickens more relaxed and have had no problems getting the bird to rest the neck on the "U" before doing the deed.

    If you intend to go ahead and use the neck breaking device with the cone, I would be very interested to know how it went in practice if you could kindly let us know here that would be great.

    As for ducks, I was planning to do some ducks this Xmas but unfortunately I lost several to wild dogs so I have not actually killed a duck with the humane poultry killer yet. I assume a duck would be no different to a chicken really if anything a little easier because the neck is more exposed on a duck. For bigger birds the gap in the "U" can be adjusted to make it slightly larger so the skin isn't broken during the motion.

    Hope my explanation helps answer your question.
     
  15. Raelene

    Raelene Member Premium Member

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    Hi Mark, i love you videos, thank you for sharing.
    I have one of these from Morrigan Farm, I have used it a few times, I would like to make sure I am using it correctly so photos or a video with the whole procedure would have helped me, do you hold your chickens with their feet hanging to the floor or facing sideways? Sorry to everyone that doesn't want to know all the details but I want to do the best that I can for my roosters from day one to their last.
     
  16. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    Hi Raelene, and thanks for becoming a member of SSC!

    I find the procedure really easy and without much fuss. I'm right handed so I operate the handle of the device with my right hand as it should be shut down on the neck with some force. This is how I do it:
    • I cradle the chicken under my left arm (like a half hug with my arm over the bird) and grip the legs together with the same hand just above the feet with the feet facing down towards the ground. In this position, the bird can't move much at all.
    • Then I calmly lift the handle up and move to position the chickens neck in the groove provided about 3 inches back from the head.
    • I close the handle loosely down (but not all the way) just enough so the chicken can't withdraw.
    • When all is good and ready I swiftly and forcefully push down on the lever and break the neck - holding it in the closed position for a few seconds. It might be necessary to repeat this step a few times if you want to be sure but it's probably not necessary.
    • I then hang them up by the feet.
    Points to note:

    You'll know if the neck is broken because the chicken will not be able to move its head and will likely give a death flutter. Also, clear spinal fluid may leak from the chickens mouth or nose but generally you won't see much blood if any.

    Some chickens tend to die swiftly and others may flutter for several minutes after but this is just nerves.

    Be sure to adjust the gap using the bolt for smaller birds to make it smaller because if the gap is too big the neck may not get broken correctly. From memory, the instructions state something like... "don't have the gap too small because the aim is not to cut the neck but to break it;" however, I prefer to ensure the gap is on the smaller side so I know it will break the neck for sure.


    I still think the humane poultry killer or neck breaker from Morrigan Farm is an excellent device because it is not only effective at dispatching birds but it is much safer to do than chopping (not to mention less mess).

    That's about it... I hope I have explained it good enough but if you like I could do a mock up photo of how I hold the bird? Anyway, if you have any questions at all just ask :)
     
  17. Raelene

    Raelene Member Premium Member

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    Thank you Mark, that is exactly what I am doing, the feet facing towards the ground, I just needed to know that it was correct. It certainly is the better way to do it, I hate the axe method. Once I get through processing my larger roosters ( approx 6 months old) I may start processing at about 4 to 5 months, what age do you do your roosters?
    I have perfected the cooking method of our roosters, we are so happy with it, it took quite a few tries with different methods but got it in the end.
     
  18. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    I'm glad you're happy Raelene, I'm the same and I'd prefer not to use the axe either.

    We slow cook our roosters now, I made the mistake of roasting one once and it was dry as old boots :D Coq Au Vin is one of my favourite recipes.

    I think 4 or 5 months for processing roosters is ideal because after that they just get tougher and eat more than they put on...
     
  19. Raelene

    Raelene Member Premium Member

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    I
    Haha I have had some tough ones too, boiling and high temp roasting is a disaster for the home grown chickens, the last one I did I layered lemon, onion, garlic, oregano, rosemary, basil, potatoes with skin on and the chicken in a baking dish with a good tight lid, started it off med/high ( 200 degrees ) for about 20 minutes then dropped the temperature down to really really low (150) and cooked it for about 3 hours, it was so juicy and sticky and was falling off the bones, I will always use this method now and just change the herbs ect. I will have to try Coq Au Vin :)
     
  20. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    My mouth is watering - your recipe sounds a little bit Moroccan I'll have to try that too! Thanks :)
     
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