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Best chicken-killing knife

Chicken-killing knives

(Those of you who are squeamish might want to move along.  I know that there's a big difference between eating meat and being willing to talk about killing livestock yourself, and this post falls into the latter category.)

Slit chickens throatI've had a couple of readers (and my husband) ponder the best chicken-killing knife, so I was hoping the internet's hive mind could come up with an answer.  When the time comes to slaughter our broilers, we use the technique of hanging the chicken upside down and quickly slitting both large veins in its neck, which kills the chicken very quickly and drains the blood out to produce quality meat.  However, if your knife and technique aren't good, you can end up hacking at the chicken's neck, which is decidedly unpleasant (even more so for the chicken).

Broiler watererWe don't have a special chicken killing knife --- I just use our best kitchen knives, sharpened right before chicken-killing day so they'll easily slice through paper.  Being sure to brush the feathers away from the neck before cutting helps too since feathers are much tougher to cut through than skin is. 

But I can't help feeling there's a better knife out there.  What kind of knife do you use when it's time to put your broilers in the freezer?  Or perhaps you're a believer in wringing the neck or chopping off the head?

Our broilers live a very happy life with lots of clean water before killing day.

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I use a mora utility knife. It's a very high quality knife for the price. Very sharp.


Comment by Kevin mid-morning Friday, November 30th, 2012

I use the same knives that get used while I am trapping and putting up fur. We buy "retired" knives that come from meat packing plants. They resharpen their names so many times and then they are replaced. The ones that are discarded can be bought from trapping supply stores or even E-Bay. I buy Victorinox and Chicago Cutlery with the CC being my favorite.

I also like to use a serrated knife for cutting off the feet, neck and the tail.

Comment by Heath late Friday afternoon, November 30th, 2012

I agree with Jacques Pepin (though he was speaking in the cooking context and not the butchering context) . . . 'the best knife is a sharp knife'

I've read where other people recommend a plastic handled cheap boning knife from a restaurant supply store - good grip, even when messy.

Comment by Charity late Friday evening, November 30th, 2012
Everybody --- Thanks for chiming in on your knife choices! It sounds like as long as it's sharp, there's not one special kind that works better than othes, although a plastic handle might help Mark's grip.
Comment by anna Monday evening, December 3rd, 2012
Since you are slitting the veins in the chicken's throat, we found using the corner of a razor blade to cut the veins was effective. Instead of a bucket, we used a traffic cone cutting off a little bit from the top to allow the head and neck to poke through. I am glad more people are open to this method of slaughter as it can be done humanely and it is more peaceful than cutting off the head.
Comment by Jason Thursday afternoon, August 22nd, 2013

60+ years ago me had a tool that was like e pruning tool. You Put the blade in the mouth and the blade went up into the brain. Is anyone making these today?

Comment by Richard Paul Monday afternoon, February 2nd, 2015
Richard --- Interesting --- I hadn't heard of the device you're talking about. Without a name to google, though, I can't be sure they're not still out there.
Comment by anna mid-morning Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015

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