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Kill Them With Kindness: How to Make and Use a Killing Cone

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Most people choose not to think about how the chicken, turkey, goose, or other winged creature spent its last moments on this earth before getting wrapped, shipped, and consumed. In fact, most people don’t want to know anything about the living version of their food and it is that attitude which has allowed corporations to abuse these beautiful animals for decades. But the winds of change are a-blowing and we thought it prudent to show you, our wonderful friends, how and why we make and use a killing cone.

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Our birds spend their lives as they were designed to do: dust-bathing, bug-chasing, sun-worshipping, shade-basking, and free-ranging. It is important to us that they live and die in a manner which is both dignified and humane.

First, let’s talk about how the killing cone works.  The bird is placed head-down into the cone (as seen below).  The bird, when upside down, goes into a sleepy trance-like state.  We then kill the bird quickly by severing the main artery in the neck with a very sharp knife.  The bird then stays in the cone while the blood drains out into a bucket below.

But how does one make the cone?  Here are step-by-step instructions on the manufacture and use of the cone:

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Step One:  Decide which size cone you need to make:

  • large turkey 10-28 Lbs. (5.25″ Base Opening, 17″ Top Opening, 25″ Height)
  • regular turkey or goose 6-22Lbs. (4.5″ Base Opening, 12″ Top Opening, 20″ Height)
  • Cornish Cross or duck 6-14 Lbs. (4″ Base Opening, 12″ Top Opening, 15″ Height)
  • standard breed chicken 2-8 Lbs. (3.5″ Base Opening, 9″ Top Opening, 16″ Height)
  • bantam 1-2 Lbs. (2.5″ Base Opening, 6″ Top Opening, 9″ Height)

Step Two:  Now gather your materials:

  • Sheet of metal (a five foot section will set you back about $15 at a hardware store or you could visit a junk yard and possibly find it for less)
  • Tin snips
  • Drill & bit set
  • Self-tapping metal screws
  • Small screw driver
  • Parchment paper
  • Permanent marker
  • Body hammer or ball-peen hammer

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Step Three:  Create a trapezoid-shaped pattern using the parchment paper which you can then trace onto the sheet metal. Here are the measurements for the parchment:

  • large turkey:  17.5″ Base-1, 54.5″ Base-2, 25″ Height
  • regular turkey or goose:  15.25″ Base-1, 38.75″ Base-2, 20″ Height
  • Cornish Cross or duck:  13.5″ Base-1, 38.75″ Base-2, 15″ Height
  • standard breed chicken:  12″ Base-1, 29.25″ Base-2, 16″ Height
  • bantam:  9″ Base-1, 20″ Base-2, 9″ Height

The measurements allow for a one inch overlap when the trapezoid is curled into a cone shape.

Step Four: Using tin nips, cut out your metal trapezoid.  Be careful because the metal edges are very sharp.  You may want to wear gloves.

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Step Five:  Tamp down the edges with the ball-peen hammer. Again, be careful doing this because the edges of the metal are extremely sharp.

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Step Six:   Drill holes into the stake or other surface which you intend to mount the cone upon. Now, screw the cone seam-side-down using the self-tapping metal screws.

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A very short-handled Phillips-head screw driver is needed for this project. See? Kinda cute, huh? (And yes, I am aware that tools are not “cute” to the male sector but I have ovaries and am therefore permitted to call itty-bitty screw drivers “cute.” That is all.)

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Step Seven: Now, survey the newly mounted killing cone with a satisfied smile. Do note that our buck, El Rod, also surveyed the finished cone with a satisfied goaty grin.

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Step Eight:  Now, to see the actual killing process, check out Food, Water, and Fire’s Chicken Killing Tutorial with its wonderful step-by-step photos and instructions on evisceration & butchering your flock.  The photos are quite graphic and may not be the best choice for lunch-break viewing.

And there you have it, folks.  Any questions?  Thoughts?  Suggestions?

  • Rosa - Interesting, though I don’t think I’d be able to kill my own animals….

    Merry Xmas!

    Cheers,

    RosaReplyCancel

  • Margo - Hurrah! You’re posting again – I’ve missed your posts

    Happy ChristmasReplyCancel

  • Marlene - Dear Joshua and Lacy,

    MERRY CHRISTMAS indeed.

    SOOOOOO glad to see you are back. Sure did miss you lots.

    First time in 7 years AJ was home too. We have sooo much to be thankful for.
    Love always xoxoReplyCancel

  • Sarah - Great post! I will proably never make one but I would love to link to this when I start talking about poultry.

    Come check out my new blog!ReplyCancel

  • Carl Martens - This is a great article. I recently had to “put down” a chicken. I will be constructing one of these so that in the future I won’t have to use my previous methods. Let’s just not talk about that…

    Thanks for sharing!ReplyCancel

  • Patricia Gnau - I realize that most people don’t want to know where their dinner came from but I was raised country and I like your version of the killing cone. At my grandparents farm we used an old wood stump and an ax that suited all size poultry. As an adult I raised black angus for our own family use. Threatened them several times but actually had a meat packer come to slaughter for us. I’m glad to know people actually care about the way they dispatch dinner…ReplyCancel

  • A few questions about chickens. - [...] We haven't seen the fox in about a year and a half and the cannibalism is easily fixed with a killing cone and a sharp knife. We have 15 chickens and we can't eat eggs as fast as they come, I take a lot to [...]ReplyCancel

  • Diahanne - Thank you!., Lots of things you know I need to learn. The Cone was very good. I’ve decided for 2012 that I need to learn to “dress” a chicken, rabbit, squirrel and deer. If you have articles that I should read please forward..

    Thanks & Merry Christmas

    DiahanneReplyCancel

  • Dawn - Just this evening I used your country fried steak recipe for venison that I had…..hubby can’t stop thanking me for making it!! Soon, I will be making the killing cone! Been using a method that worked, but I’m sure I’ll like the cone better. It seems I’ve barely scratched the surface of your sight, but already it seems awesome!! You seem like an awesome, Christian young lady! Thank you!ReplyCancel

  • Rachel Hoff - Thanks for posting this. We usually just use a traffic cone with the end cut off. We gave up on the killing cone though because we just felt it wasn’t a quick enough death. We’re back to the old stump and hatchet method. More violent and uncomfortable for us but quicker death for the bird.ReplyCancel

  • Riversana - I appreciate the instructions on how to build a killing cone, this is much appreciated. However, I like to collect all the pretty feathers (especially from the roosters) and this seems like a waste of those cool neck feathers.. How close to the skull do you cut?ReplyCancel

  • August - Hey nice job with the description with the culling cone. Just finished building one for a few ducks and chickens. Thank you for the simple explanation! I’ll be reading what else you have in the future! Many thanks!ReplyCancel

  • LisaAnn - Thank you for the information.
    Newspaper printers used to sell large aluminum sheets (covered in greasy ink) for a few dollars each. I’m not sure if they still do. They may not even use them.ReplyCancel

  • Jay - What kind of metal did you use?ReplyCancel

  • Mark Akers - Your instructions are perfect you just saved me a lot of money. I have made some but they were never correct. I used news paper to cut a pattern and when I traced it to my flashing I noticed that I could invert the next one and save a cut and I had almost zero wast.ReplyCancel

  • Amethyst42 - I’m strictly a ‘town’ girl, but one day hope to have a small farm. I have a friend with property I much covet, and I have seen his killing cone in action. It seems a simple and quick method, and not at all like the industrially-raised electrocuted death that the commercial chickens face. Thanks for sharing!ReplyCancel

  • Living Off the Land - People Do Things With Their Lives - [...] my father they install ponds to farm fish. Unlike my father they use “kill cones” to peacefully dispatch chickens. Apparently turning a chicken upside down induces a trance-like [...]ReplyCancel

  • Julie Minor - Thank you so much for the information. We were thinking about getting chickens and this method takes the sting out a bit!ReplyCancel

  • Mrs Lian Peet - Hello! I have just stumbled on your site because I was looking for somewhere to order a killing cone. I can’t buy one over the counter here in this part of Australia, but maybe we’ll have a go of your design instead. We did try with a home made one which my darling husband made out of a bucket, but it was not deep enough and poor rooster flopped out spraying me with blood while I screamed hysterically…not something I want to repeat! How close to the head should we cut?? Thanks!
    LianReplyCancel

  • Tasha - We use killing cones as well. It’s an incredibly humane and peaceful way to dispatch chickens. Thank you for sharing how to make them!ReplyCancel

  • Norm - Looks pretty humane. It sure is a relief to know this. Thanks for this and the link to the rest. Best wishes to you.ReplyCancel

  • Arlene - I would like to try really fresh chicken, but there is no way I could do this. My chickens all have names :P ReplyCancel

  • Bob - Thanks so much for posting this. I’ve been agonizing over how I will slaughter my layers when the time comes – you’ve given me a humane way to do it!ReplyCancel

  • Sunday Funday! | Barton Farms and Gardens - [...] we got to work building some new killing cones. We had been using a construction cone but it was too big and sloppy. I looked online to order a [...]ReplyCancel

  • ThankYou - I’m an animal lover and chickens are one of my favorite animals. I’m so happy you posted this tutorial. Many places say to do this but no one says how to construct it. This the way Muslims are supposed to kill chickens. We have to sever the main artery using a very sharp knife (while saying a prayer) and drain the blood.ReplyCancel

  • Linda - Howdy! Thanks so much for your instructions. Despite the fact my husband was raised on a farm, this is one job he refuses to do. While I have actually helped a fellow farmer harvest their birds I have not done it by myself. I was looking for “how to” for the killing cones and found your website. Thanks…I am so interested in your soaps. Love your labels! Farm on! as my favorite farmer friend says.ReplyCancel

  • Miranda - This is a great post, thanks! Question: how has the thin sheet metal held up over time? i worry about the ‘death throws’ shaking it down off its mount eventually. Are you still happy with your cones?
    If you could reply to my email i’d appreciate it, as i may forget to revisit this post.

    MirandaReplyCancel

  • Slaughter Methods for McMutants | Eradica - [...] confined space prevents broken bones and skin.  A more upscale version of the bleach bottle is the killing cone.  The larger McMutants are decapitated on an old stump.  We place two nails in a V shape on the [...]ReplyCancel

  • Consider Raising Meat Chickens - American Preppers Network : American Preppers Network - [...] I butcher the birds I do so quickly to minimize stress.  I use a block, or a cone and I don’t make the others watch.  You can catch the blood in a bucket and add it to your [...]ReplyCancel

  • Terry McLaren - Thanks for the step-by-step. I’m building one today to process some roosters for dinner.ReplyCancel

  • Laura - Excellent tutorial, thank you!ReplyCancel

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