Written by ChatGPT and edited by Maurice Pitesky and Joseph Gendreau from the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine-Cooperative Extension


ChatGPT Generative Term: Write a 1 and a half page lay article on considerations associated with when to euthanize your chicken and how best to euthanize a backyard chicken



So we’re going to bet that euthanasia of your backyard chickens is not your favorite subject… However, planning appropriately for our chickens’ inevitable death is an important aspect and responsibility of owning chickens like all pets.


As responsible chicken keepers, it’s essential to be prepared for situations where euthanizing a chicken becomes necessary. In this article, we will explore the considerations associated with deciding when to euthanize a backyard chicken and discuss humane methods for carrying out the process.


Understanding the Decision to Euthanize


The decision to euthanize a chicken is a difficult one and often arises from various circumstances, such as severe illness, untreatable injuries, or advanced age. When considering euthanasia, several factors should be taken into account:


  • Quality of Life: Assess your chicken’s quality of life. If your chicken is suffering from a painful or incurable condition and there’s little hope for improvement, euthanasia may be the most compassionate option.
  • Injury Severity: Severe injuries that have a poor prognosis can be extremely painful and distressing.
  • Infectious Diseases: If your chicken has a contagious and untreatable disease, euthanasia may be necessary to prevent the spread to the rest of the flock and to your neighbors’ flocks.
  • Advanced Age: Older chickens may experience a decline in their quality of life as they age. If they are suffering or are unable to move and feed themselves, euthanasia may be considered.
  • Behavioral Issues: Aggressive or overly stressed chickens that pose a danger to the flock may need to be euthanized to ensure the welfare of the other chickens.


Humane Methods for Euthanasia


When you first get chickens, it is critical to identify a veterinarian who is able to euthanize chickens as the humane methods require experience to perform them correctly. For some background, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) recommends the following methods for backyard chickens:


  • Cervical Dislocation: This method involves breaking the chicken’s neck, causing immediate and painless death. It is considered humane when performed correctly. Unfortunately, it takes practice to do this, so our recommendation is to have this performed by a veterinarian.
  • CO2 Inhalation: You can use a CO2 chamber, which is often available at veterinary clinics. The chicken is placed in the chamber, and CO2 gas is introduced, inducing unconsciousness and a peaceful death. A list of small animal veterinarians in Southern California who treat backyard poultry can be found here.

    If for various reasons (i.e. cost and access to a veterinarian who treats backyard poultry), you can alternatively make a make-shift chamber and use dry ice as the CO2 source. If you do this, it is important to prevent the bird from touching the dry ice as it can burn their skin very easily.

  • Barbiturate Injection: A licensed veterinarian can inject barbiturates (aka euthanasia solution).

The California Animal Health and Food Safety Lab or CAHFS lab also provides euthanasia services as part of their necropsy fees. The advantage of this approach is that for a nominal fee (typically less than the euthanasia cost associated with going to a small animal veterinarian) you can also get a necropsy which can help determine any underlying diseases with the goal of protecting the remainder of your flock.  More information about the CAHFS lab can be found here.

What Not To Do


Guns, hatchets and blunt force are not considered to be humane ways to euthanize chickens and are not recommended.




After euthanasia, it’s essential to dispose of your chicken properly. You can bury the chicken deep in the ground to prevent scavengers from disturbing the remains or you can simply double bag the dead chicken and dispose of it in the trash. It is important to make sure other animals can’t get to the dead chicken as this is one way that infectious diseases get spread.


In conclusion, making the decision to euthanize a backyard chicken is a challenging but compassionate choice when it is done to prevent further suffering. Understanding when and how to euthanize is crucial for the well-being of your flock. In order to accomplish this, it is critical to identify a veterinarian who performs euthanasia of chickens beforehand.