How to butcher chickens ethically

Poultry butchering seminar

Ranch Alacrity hosted a humane poultry
butchering seminar in April for a group of young chefs-to-be.  “It
really is a lost art, as is almost all butchering,” said Titus
Blackwood, who demonstrated de-feathering and dressing out. 
“There is a resurgence of young chefs
learning the art,” she added, before explaining that humane butchering
is ethical and results in tastier meat.

Gutting chickensTitus
was joined by
Kristin Mahony and
Jared Ligouri, who helped teach the
seminar for Chef Rick Kangas’
poultry class at Colorado Mountain College – Edwards.  Titus
described the process of “ethically
dispatching” the poultry as follows:

invert and then rotate the bird and get all the blood to their head
so they are calm, almost hypnotized.  They are disoriented and not
aware when the throat is slit to bleed out.  The bird doesn’t flap
nearly as much [as when using
commercial methods]
, and [this
method] releases less adrenaline, making for a more tender
bird.  We pretty much follow
Kosher methods but we don’t have a Rabbi.

The young chefs took to
the process quickly, showing great respect for the animals and a good
work ethic.  One former vegetarian commented that he would have
found the butchering process appropriate even before he began eating
meat again.  Titus noted, “
was very clear to him
that our birds had a wonderful healthy life and a humane death. 
still opted out of the dispatch, but he was a meticulous butcher.”

“The students thanked me
for bringing them out,” wrote Chef Kangas, and went on to add that the
seminar “will be an experience they will have all their lives and all
their cooking careers.  If they weren’t before, they are now part
of the [Slow Food & Locavore] “movement” for sure!”

If you’re within driving
distance of Vail, Colorado, or are in the Eagle Valley and would
like to learn how to get started in poultry-keeping and/or how to
dispatch your birds humanely, please contact Titus Blackwood:
970-926-0345 or

Photo credit goes to
Titus Blackwood.

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