We know how to kill a man — but what is the best way to kill a chicken?  Break its neck?  A shot to the back of the head?  A sharp knife to the throat?  Electric shock?  Gassing?

The New York Times ran a fantastical story detailing the new want of chicken processors to more “humanely” kill their chickens, so they can then advertise their “kinder” way of killing so people will be comfortable eating chicken and will then consume more chicken:

Anglia Autoflow, the company that is building the knock-out systems for the two processors, calls the process “controlled atmosphere stunning,” but Mr. Pitman said his company was considering the phrase “sedation stunning” for use on its packages. Also on the short-list: “humanely slaughtered,” “humanely processed” or “humanely handled.”

In a typical processing plant, birds are unloaded in what is known as the “live hang area.” Workers hang the chickens upside down from metal shackles connected to a mechanical rail that conveys them into the plant. They go first into a unit that uses a mild electric shock to make them unconscious, and then they are brought to the “kill machine,” where a blade cuts their throat and they bleed to death.

In the new system, birds will arrive at the processing plant in special containers that will go directly into a chamber to which carbon dioxide is slowly added, displacing some of the oxygen and making the birds unconscious. Only then will workers handle the birds and hang them on the shackles.

One of the slaughterhouses wants to advertise their new death machines on the actual chicken package as — “slow induction anesthesia” — and the ridiculousness of it all seeps into our marrow and out the chicken’s butchered throats.

Why is all this money being spent to more effectively kill chickens?  A slaughterhouse is a slaughterhouse and, as the great Count Leo Tolstoy, a famous vegetarian, said many years ago, “As long as there are slaughterhouses, there will always be war.”

Slaughterhouses should be outlawed.  If you want to eat chicken tonight, raise one, slaughter it yourself, and feed your family.  Make the death process a real part of your life.  Don’t buy your fresh meat wrapped in plastic and pre-cut.  Plucking the feathers off a carcass you killed will give you a whole new appreciation for the life you took to satisfy your hunger for flesh.


  1. Brilliant, David — and right on the mark. It doesn’t matter how free range the animal lived its life, or how “humanely” it was killed — it still dies for your dinner.

    1. Right, Gordon!

      Killing our food — if people choose to live that way — should not be made easier and more invisible. Killing should be open and transparent: Let the killing process come into the home so the children can actually see where their chicken McNuggets come from.

  2. Total joke. How many ways can they rename and repackage death? They disgust me all the way.

    1. Creating the label gives power that leads to ownership. If you call a “slaughterhouse” a “divine pathway” then you have created a proprietary lie that cannot be compared against the truth because you’ve blurred the brutality line.

  3. one famous line i will never forget is : If slaugter houses had glass walls, everyone would be a vegeterain. I find this completely true. If you went to a supermarket and ordered chicken, you wouldn’t watch it be brutally killed in front of you. You would pick it up in a small package, looking completely transfromed from a chicken to just a white piece of meat. I think thats why most people aren’t vegeterians. They don’t really think as chicken as an animal, but just a food. If people had to kill thier own meat or they watched the animal be killed right in front of them, everyone would be a vegeterian. Thank you for this article! 😀

    1. I love that line, Isabel, and I certainly agree: If you want to eat meat, slaughter the animal yourself and use every bit of it, and make sure you take your children with you to witness the death.

  4. I just slaughtered some of the cockerals I hatched out this spring. It’s not a pleasant task but it has to be done. I enjoyed them running around the yard and I’ll miss their antics (and bug catching!). I’m thankful that they will sustain and nourish us in the days to come.

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