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Make a kill cone for processing chickens

 
steward
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Location: West Tennessee
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My wife and I raise layers and we have one too many cockerels from a batch of chicks we got six months ago. We have two in with ten pullets, and that's too many. He's destined for chicken stock.

Since we'll be doing this again many times in the future as we homestead, I decided to make a kill cone instead of buying one. The only sheet metal I had on hand was some 16oz copper leftover from making a moonshine still eight years ago. I since quit drinking and gave away my still to a friend, but now I wish I still had it to make hydrosol's among other things with herbs, but that's another thread. So using what I had on hand, I made a kill cone this morning. Any sheet metal that's thin enough to shape will work. It's pretty easy to do and here's how I made it:

I made a trapezoid stencil on paper and cut it out. The short side is 12 inches, the long side is about 28 inches, and the height is 16 inches. This will make a small opening of a little over 3 inches, and a large opening of around 9 inches.



I rolled up the paper to see what it looked like and figured it'll work.



I placed it on my leftover copper sheet and realized it didn't fit, so my cone shrunk to 13 inches tall to get it to fit.



I then used my framing square to scribe straight lines and cut it out with my shears.





After gently rolling the copper trapezoid back and forth working it towards its final shape, I drilled pilot holes down one side. I realized I needed more than two hands to line things up and fasten it together so vise-grips to the rescue.





I have leftover rivets from installing a metal roof on my home, so after using the pilot holes to drill the other side, I proceeded to fasten the ends together with pop rivets.



All fastened together, I removed the vise grips and looked things over and said to myself "that'll do".





I trimmed off the sharp pointy corners on the top end and drilled a pilot hole for a screw to hang it.



All finished I placed it on a cedar tree. I'm looking forward to see what kind of patina it will develop sitting outside as the years go by.



 
James Freyr
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We wasted no time putting it to use. Here's what I've learned:

I think the cone is on the small side. I've only ever processed chickens once before, and I recall the cones at the farm where I learned how to process chickens being about this size, or at least the 7 or 8 pound broilers we were processing fitting in the cones similarly to my experience today. This scrawny 6 month old cockerel fit snugly in the cone. I have another 3 year old black astralorp rooster that is twice the size of this cockerel, and he's just not going to fit when the time comes. I have some big ol' round brahmas that are getting old, but still laying, and I doubt they'll fit in the cone enough for their head to protrude out the bottom. I think I need to make a second larger cone. I did find the 13 inch depth of the cone to be plenty, and I am glad it didn't end up 16 inches like the original paper stencil, I doubt the head would've made it out the bottom.

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pollinator
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Hi James.

It's a really good cone you've made here.  Looking at the last picture, I assume that the blood is going into that bucket filled with straw and I was wondering what you do with it.

Here in France we let the blood drip into a ready made bowl of soft, finely crumbled bread (no crust) well seasoned with garlic, parsley, salt and pepper.  Mix and fry it till crispy - quite delicious when you tweak it to your own taste.
 
James Freyr
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Hi Olga!

I did not consider using it fresh in a meal and that sounds pretty good. The blood in the straw, along with the head, all the feathers, skin from feet and entrails went into my compost pile.
 
Olga Booker
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Well, it's a rural kind of thing and actually, not many people do it any more since their chicken is usually bought sanitised in a plastic wrapper these days.  But it was very common when I was a child, many moons ago. Give it a try, it's almost like an instant black pudding!
 
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We save blood and let the dogs and cats eat it.  I prefer to dislocate the neck, personally, and bleed the bird out after it's done thrashing.  Works like a charm, and no thrashing blood spraying everywhere!  Nice cone though!
 
pollinator
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I measured the kill cones when I rented the processing equipment last time.  My hope was to have a friend make one for incidental needs, but he hasn't had time or lacked appropriate scrap or something.  

Anyway, dimensions I took were 16" long on the back side, 15" on the front.  8" top diameter, 4.5" bottom diameter, which given they're not circles means I also measured circumference of 25.75" top and 14.75" bottom.

That size worked really well with my Freedom Ranger broilers.  Average dressed weight was a hair under 5lbs, so live weight was probably 6.5-7lbs, give or take.
 
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I thought I'd mention this for those looking for a quick kill cone, or who aren't skilled to do amazing things with copper sheeting. Traffic cones are pretty easy to cut, and make decent kill cones. It's not something I would have thought to do, but my husband thinks outside the box, and realized the traffic cone would do nicely for the purpose.
 
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Be sure to take pictures as you build your cone (before, during, after) because there's a PEP BB in metalworking for that project.  Check it out here: https://permies.com/wiki/134239/PEP-BB-metalworking-sand-funnel
 
James Freyr
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I made a bigger cone so I'm ready to process larger birds when the time comes. Same process as before, but using a 26ga sheet of galvanized steel. The steel was awfully springy when trying to bring the two ends together to rivet. It would begin to form a nice roll, then suddenly a crease would appear in the sheet metal. It's full of creases which are kinda visible in the 3rd picture but what matters more to me is function instead of form, and this will work. This one is the same 16 inches deep as the other, but the top opening has a 36 inch circumference and the bottom a 16 inch circumference or in other words those were the lengths on the trapezoid I cut out. I think it is large enough to accommodate some big burly brahmas that are no longer laying and the 12 or so pound black astralorp rooster that I have.
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