Home Butcher Guide

Butchering Chickens

What Is Chicken Butchering?

Butchering a chicken is the act of slaughtering a chicken for consumable meat. It is a way of life for families across the globe and is a food source that can be raised on a small piece of acreage. 

Why You should Eat More Chicken

Three reasons to eat more chicken:


1.  To maintain good health your body needs protein. Tissues, nerves and bones are made up of mostly proteins. Proteins are the primary building material for muscle, hair, skin, nails, eyes and internal organs including your heart and brain.


2.  Chicken is packed with selenium and b complex vitamins, giving your body high metabolic performance by keeping your blood at healthy levels. 


3.  Eating poultry raises serotonin levels in your brain which affect mood. It’s a natural anti-depressant.

broiler chickens

Is It Worth it to Butcher Chickens?

Cost to raise a chicken

Let’s talk actual cost:

To raise one chicken for butcher, the cost will be about $8 for a 5-pound chicken.


Female Cornish Cross (this is a popular meat bird):  $2.60 per chick. The chick will eat 12 pounds of feed for a five-pound bird. If you plan to raise a larger bird, your feed cost will go up. 


Feed will cost:  $17.00 per 50# bag. It will cost about $4.86 to feed this bird. This feed cost is a medicated starter/grower blend. If you choose to go organic, your feed cost is significantly higher. 


In total: The cost averages to $8 to buy the chicken, feed the chicken and butcher the chicken.


The cost to have your chicken processed at a butchery is somewhere around $4 a chicken added to your cost. 

Or Is it Cheaper to Buy Costco Chickens?

That is a good question! Why wouldn’t you just go to Costco to get your chickens when you need one? Lets see…

The cost per pound for a whole Kirkland chicken at Costco is $2.99 per pound = $15 a chicken.


Organic whole chickens are $1.49 per pound = $8 for a five-pound chicken. But Costco does not sell five-pound chickens. They sell 8–11-pound chickens. Your cost went up.


Costco owns and operates their own chicken barns in order to keep their cost down. This is great, until a pandemic strikes and they have a chicken shortage. 

Remember? Those who learn to butcher, never starve. If you have the time, land and resources to butcher chickens at home, it is a great idea. 

best age to butcher chickens

Best Age To Butcher Chickens

The amount of time it takes to raise a chicken for butchering will depend on the breed of chicken and the desired weight you want to achieve. It could be as quick as six weeks or 42-44 days for a six-seven-pound broiler chicken.


Cornish Cross is a typical butcher bird. They grow astonishingly fast and can reach six pounds in six weeks. 


Opposite of them is Cornish Game Hens which are butchered at 3 weeks of age at a weight of 2.5-3 pounds. 


When ordering from a hatchery, they will explain to you the best age to butcher the particular breed you choose. 


Begin Butchering Chickens

The Best Way To Butcher A Chicken

There are three ways to butchering a chicken: chopping block, hang and slice, or using a killing cone.  You can decide which one is best for you and your family.


Some methods may require more than one person to keep the process going smoothly, especially if you are butchering more than a few chickens.

Chopping Block Method

Using a sturdy wooden block, or cut-off log, about twenty-four inches high and two nails pounded in the center of the block of wood, about 2” apart.  You’ll need a sharp axe preferably with a wide head.   


Calmly capture the chicken, holding it by its legs, keeping it’s wings close to it’s body. Place its neck between the two nails and with a swing of the axe, cut off the head, chopping it at the bottom of the neck.  


Once the head is off, gently toss the bird on to the grass. It will flop around for a bit, “bleeding out” as it flops. There is no need to ‘hang’ the chicken to bleed them out. The flopping does the trick with this method.


butcher block

The Hanging Method

Hang the bird by its feet with a rope. Slice its jugular vein across the bottom of its neck. Immediately take the sharp end of the knife and put it into the roof of the chickens’ mouth so that it hits the brain. You can do this in any order. 


Many feel that this method of killing is more humane because and it releases the feathers making it easier to pluck but not completely necessary. You can skip this step if it feels too unfamiliar.   

Killing Cone Method

butcher chickens
Homemade Killing Cone

Put the chicken in the cone, head down trapping the wings.


Holding the chickens head in your palm, pry open the beak and pierce the brain in the back of its head with a sharp knife. Gently twist the knife. The bird might let out a small cry and then it will begin to spasm safely in the cone.


Immediately slit the neck, just behind the jowl and let the bird bleed out.


The killing cone is pretty slick. There is no risk of bruising the meat or broken wings from flopping around. The blood can be contained to a certain area also. 

There are a variety of ways to make your own killing cones which makes this about as cheap as the chopping block.

Butcher in Batches

Butcher your chickens in batches. When there are 30 chickens to butcher with one person to help, slaughter 7-10 chickens in one round then pluck them. Once plucked, drop them in very cold water and begin another round.  It will depend on the amount of help available.  Continuous butcher is achievable if there are many hands to help.  

How to Set Up For Butchering Chickens at Home

Setting up your area before you begin will save you time and frustration. Depending on the method of butchering a few different areas of the yard will be utilized.  

Butchering Area:

Slaughtering can be a messy job (think blood). Whether you are using a butcher block, hanging them or using a cone, you will have a designated area for killing your chickens. A good idea is to have it near the chicken coop so transporting them from coup to slaughter isn’t such a long walk. 

Plucking Area:

A plucking area with a table, gut buckets, and wash tubs for plucked chickens is needed.  Naturally you would choose a shaded area but sometimes the flies may find you faster in a shaded area. A water source needs to be nearby. 

Cutting Area:

Cutting up your chickens and packaging them for the freezer is nicely done indoors. At this point you can take your chilled birds inside and begin bagging, vacuume sealing them for the freezer. You might decide to cut them at this point also. Doing this indoors keeps the flies away.

Set Up Near A Water Source

butcher chickens water source

Plucking chickens require boiling water to loosen the feathers. It’s necessary to have access to water nearby so you can boil water. This can be done indoors on the stove, but an outdoor propane cooker works beautifully for this. 


You will also need a water to wash off the plucked chicken and fill wash tubs with cold water for storing the chickens before packaging.  

Butcher Room

Establish a Home Butcher Room

Establishing a home butcher room on your own farm to succeed in the operations of butchering meat at home is a large jump into self sufficiency for your family.

Cows for Butcher

How Long Should you Hang/Age Beef at Home After Slaughtering?

Raising beef to slaughter has been process known to man since the beginning of civilization.

butcher equipment

Butcher Knives and Essential Processing Tools

Finding the right equipment, supplies and tools make processing at home easier and more efficient.

brown chickens