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Respectful harvest of chickens

 
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skepchar wrote:
as other comments have stated this is not a chicken "trance" but is simply a manipulation of the chickens instincts, it is still terrified, and what ever you do to it, how ever you butcher it, you are still taking its life when it is unnecessary. it should certainly be obvious to those on this forum that all the food needed to sustain our lives can easily be derived from plant life, also the human digestive system is not even made to eat a meat based diet. killing an animal when it is unnecessary can never be done "respectfully"



by all means if you are uncomfortable eating meat don't, but more animals are killed and displaced to plant crops than are directly killed for meat and the critters on my homestead live a simpler less stressful life than their wild counterparts. and don't lay moral judgments down on those of us who would rather harvest a chicken after feeding her a lot of garden pests then just squash the garden pests
 
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ive found this yr. that using a good pair of shears is  the way to go.  i rarely use a knife now while butchering.  after skinning the bird out. i lay it down, and cut it up its back,  peel it open and clean everything out a it.  much easier than all that old school cutting the arse end reaching, digging, losening, and tugging.  while i butcher it, i go ahead and cut it up.  very easy with the shears, and very quick method.

i prefer to keep the liver, gizzard and heart.  all good when fried up.

that hen that lady cut up, had the sickest lookin gizzard ive ever seen in a chicken.
 
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skepchar wrote:it should certainly be obvious to those on this forum that all the food needed to sustain our lives can easily be derived from plant life, also the human digestive system is not even made to eat a meat based diet. killing an animal when it is unnecessary can never be done "respectfully"



That's not true, IMO. We have a limited ability to synthesize many vital nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin C, vitamin B12, etc. and must obtain them from both animal and plant sources. Furthermore, how does killing and eating plants have any mercy or respect in it? Is it because plants can't run, scream, or bleed? :/
 
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T. Pierce wrote:
ive found this yr. that using a good pair of shears is the way to go. i rarely use a knife now while butchering. after skinning the bird out. i lay it down, and cut it up its back, peel it open and clean everything out a it. much easier than all that old school cutting the arse end reaching, digging, losening, and tugging. while i butcher it, i go ahead and cut it up. very easy with the shears, and very quick method.

i prefer to keep the liver, gizzard and heart. all good when fried up.

that hen that lady cut up, had the sickest lookin gizzard ive ever seen in a chicken.


Do you still do some the other way, to keep them intact for roasters etc? Or can you use your method and just kind of keep the carcass closed up? I hate sticking my hand in there, and finding another way would be great, but I gotta be able to make beer can chicken!
 
                            
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maikeru wrote:
That's not true, IMO. We have a limited ability to synthesize many vital nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin C, vitamin B12, etc. and must obtain them from both animal and plant sources. Furthermore, how does killing and eating plants have any mercy or respect in it? Is it because plants can't run, scream, or bleed? :/



yes... its because they (the plant kingdom) don't have nervous systems to experience pain and terror and death... also as for omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin c and vitamin b12 we can get all of these from different plant sources such as nuts for fatty acids or allege extracts for omega 3, vitamin b12 is produced not by plants or animals but by bacteria, and as such can be easily obtained by bacteria culture, this is where we get all the vegan and vegetarian supplements. and well vitamin C, come on that ones easy, there's approximately 70 mg of vitamin C in your average orange, and thats already above the recommended daily amount.
 
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The title of this thread is "Respectable harvest of chickens", yet it seems to have gotten into "alternative diets".  The purpose of this thread is to discuss the harvesting of chickens, which are the most universally eaten form of livestock around the world.  Can we please discuss the harvesting of chickens here, and if somebody wants to discuss other topics, then please open a new thread (elsewhere) on those topics?  Thank you.
 
T. Pierce
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James Stark wrote:
Do you still do some the other way, to keep them intact for roasters etc? Or can you use your method and just kind of keep the carcass closed up? I hate sticking my hand in there, and finding another way would be great, but I gotta be able to make beer can chicken!



ive never done the beer can method mr stark.  i dont really cook.  i leave all that up to the wife.  but id think that the shears would still come in handy for cutting off legs,  wing tips that i dont save and even the head if the hatchet doesnt make the clean cut.  as for keeping it intact,  it seems that i remeber in yrs past my mother "sewing" up  a turkey to bake it.  id think the same could do for the chicken.  but split it up the breast, clean it out,  few stiches,  and insert the OLD MILWALKEE can.
 
James Stark
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I might just give the shears a try this year. Thanks Mr. Pierce.
 
T. Pierce
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i just attempted to use the "broomstick" method on some roosters.  i figured that it worked so well for rabbits that it would be the same for fowl.  i figured wrong.  first rooster a young one, i thought he was dead,,when he got his bearings he came to life and took off.  took me a day to get hold of him again.  the second young rooster i tried, i was over zealous and it took his whole head clean off.  the third one. an older much larger rooster.  it stunned him for a few seconds but i had to finish him off with a hatchet. 

not exactly "respectful"  and i wont attempt it again.
 
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T. Pierce wrote:
i just attempted to use the "broomstick" method on some roosters.  i figured that it worked so well for rabbits that it would be the same for fowl.  i figured wrong.  first rooster a young one, i thought he was dead,,when he got his bearings he came to life and took off.  took me a day to get hold of him again.  the second young rooster i tried, i was over zealous and it took his whole head clean off.  the third one. an older much larger rooster.  it stunned him for a few seconds but i had to finish him off with a hatchet. 

not exactly "respectful"  and i wont attempt it again.


Pretty tough critters huh? 
 
John Polk
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Kind of like the old saying: Don't take a knife to a gunfight!
 
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Geoff Lawton talks about a woman from Thailand he met and her special way of handling the incision in lecture 38 of the PDC DVD series.
 
James Stark
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Mr Pierce,

Just wanted to let you know I tried your method of skinning, and cutting up the breast bone. It butterflied beautifully, and was great on the BBQ. Thanks a ton for the advice!!
When I do a bunch at once, I'll still pluck and leave whole, but that is a GREAT method if you just want to put one or two in the fridge (or if you're butchering them down). I owe ya one.
 
T. Pierce
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James Stark wrote:
Mr Pierce,

Just wanted to let you know I tried your method of skinning, and cutting up the breast bone. It butterflied beautifully, and was great on the BBQ. Thanks a ton for the advice!!
When I do a bunch at once, I'll still pluck and leave whole, but that is a GREAT method if you just want to put one or two in the fridge (or if you're butchering them down). I owe ya one.



glad it worked out for you.  i got the idea while watching a lady use shears while butchering  rabbits. i thought bet that would work on fowl. come to find out that there is nothing new under the sun ya know.............some of them shears ended up being  called poultry shears.  imagine that.

i ended up building me a sink and counter top out by the garden.  i just butcher, clean and cut up right there by the garden,  using my new shears...give the poultry a good initial cleaning in the sink before i soak it for a couple of days in salt water.  so far im happy with my method.
 
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Been loving this thread and thanks for the videos everyone.  I just recently had some older school farmers give me an education in chicken harvesting.  They were very respectful and kind teachers and I must say just doing it is the easiest way to learn.    So after that I have 2 questions.

They just ax the head off in a killing cone  but now after reading som other posts it seems  just cutting the jugulars is more effective/humane maybe.  Is this just a matter of very sharp knife and slicing hard but not too hard?  I have a hard time making it out on the video.

Also the folks teaching me skin all their birds.  Its super quick and easy to do.  No hot water to mess with etc.....  So any downside to this?  aside from not being able to just bake a whole chicken?  The process seems so much faster.      Any other downsides to this?

Thanks again
 
                            
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Some of the best nutrients in pasture raised animals are in the fats....and chicken skin is rather fatty.  You are tossing a lot of great stuff when you toss the skin.  Yes, sometimes you need to skin, but do some plucking, too.  You are also limited as to cooking methods with skinless chicken.

Always eat meat/poultry with some of the fat and a bit of salt.  Otherwise, we cannot digest it properly or get all the nutrition from it.  And it just tastes better!
 
pollinator
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ive been practicing the chicken trance, once you get it down its so easy. and it works GOOD. i put a chicken in a trance, then something called my attention away, well a good 15 minutes goes by before i get back to the chickens and that one is still stuck in a trance, it looks dead basically with no head. all it takes is a little touch to wake it up and shes is perfectly fine like she just took a nap.
 
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This topic and the vid's of Alexia Allen actually brought me here...

An animallover by heart (my mom still can't believe I'm actually thinking of eating my own chicks) and at the moment completely in love with some chicklets that have hatched recently, I know that a few of them will be roosters and will end up on my dinnertable. So, to get prepared I searched the net.

It seems to me that there are two schools of thought here:
1) an animal will be scared no matter what, so just get it over with as quickly and humanely as possible;
2) taking the time will calm an animal down (providing it's used to being handled) and thus will make the whole process less stressfull than a quick kill.

I can feel something for both sides: the adultchicks I currently own were ferals that moved in on their own and not used to being handled. So if I ever want to catch them, I have to wait until dark, sneak up on them and kill them as soon as I can. If I handrear the young, they might get more used to being petted and thus relax when the time comes to pet them a last time.

Maybe the kill should match the animal, and as with a lot of other things, there is no "one size fits all"...
 
Jordan Lowery
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for those apposed just think of it this way. when the raccoon, feral dog, hawk, coyote or other animal comes to eat your chicken. its going to kill it without thought. some animals will even play with the injured prey before killing and eating it. in the case of a local dog a few years ago, it just came, chased and killed more than a few chickens for no reason. far from a humane death compared to how we would do it. the local hawks catch them, kill them and only eat the face or chest. leaving the rest. i can only imagine how horrible something pinning you down and eating your head or chest while alive would be. once again, far far from humane. nature is cruel when it comes to natural selection.
 
Kat deZwart
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True, nature can be cruel, but IMHO that's not a valid reason for not trying to prevent unnecessary suffering if that is within my power to do so. On the other hand, is it so true that all life feeds itself on other life and we can not deny that.
 
                                
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maikeru wrote:
Furthermore, how does killing and eating plants have any mercy or respect in it? Is it because plants can't run, scream, or bleed? :/



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KmK0bZl4ILM
 
Dave Bennett
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TheDirtSurgeon wrote:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KmK0bZl4ILM


Great video. 
 
pollinator
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I may have posted this elsewhere so sorry if it is a repeat.

The method I am using is slow but I think it is the least traumatic of all I have tried so far:

I am using the holding method shown in Paul's video - hens body upside down between my knees.  One hand is petting the bird (they are used to me doing this so they become calm) and my other hand is covering the birds head and eyes.

The bird is very quiet and then hubby quickly snips off the birds head with long handled pruning shears.  The struggle from the body is only after the head is off (nerves reacting) and it is very brief.  We have a knife handy to sever any remaining connecting tissue.

Two problems with this:  1.  Only one bird at a time is brought to the kill table with its head covered so that it can't see what is going on.  2.  I can't do it by myself because I'm already using both hands.

I like this method the very best but if I had more than 6 or 7 birds to do it would take too long.

I may experiment with little head covers on the birds, like people do with hawks, to see how the birds react to them.  If it works I could bonnet all of the birds at once.
 
Dave Bennett
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This is what I developed for slicing both jugular veins at once.  I just sharpened the blades to a razor edge and spread the blades slightly.  I tried it out on my neighbors chicken and it works extremely well.  I just slipped it up in place put very slight pressure and with one quick down stroke sliced both veins at once.

http://japanwoodworker.com/product.asp?s=JapanWoodworker&pf_id=06.061.1&dept_id=22381
 
pollinator
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Paul talks to Alexia Allen in this podcast: http://www.richsoil.com/permaculture/453-podcast-084-alexia-allen/

They discuss lots of things, including Alexia's chicken harvesting, and the things she has learned from it.
 
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Bump!
rather than starting a new post, I'll ask the question here.

1. How long does it take for the chicken to lose consciousness after the swipe of the blade? Alexis's chicken was shaking the head after a few seconds of being supposedly unconscious.

2. Would an exacto knife be interesting as a sharp-enough-blade?

3. She's dealing with a chicken who seems near the end of it's life and potentially sick.
3a. Wouldn't that make the kill easier? I have very volitile chickens who don't like being handled. I imagine that this type of activity wouldn't go over very well with them and getting them to 'calm down' (inasmuch as we assume that the chicken is indeed calm) would be harder.

3b. Any qualms about eating a sick chicken?

I went to the vet today to have a chicken put down. Tragedy all around in terms of money, time spent on keeping it alive, people's emotions, etc. Looking into harvesting the other nine when their time is up rather than going through this again.
William
 
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William. Planned obsolescence is not a bad idea once you get past the thought of slaughtering a loved one. Every second year get new chicks. After chickens have laid the second year the productivity and the quality of the egg goes down. Slaughter them after second egg season. The new chick's will replace them as layers the following year.

We put them in a pressure cooker and separate the liquid for broth. Then the chicken is cubed and added back in for a hearty thick meaty soup. Great for the cooler months when the slaughter would happen.
 
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The Liveleak video. This reminds me of what I am actively trying to dismantle.
 
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Jeanine Gurley wrote:Time is always a big factor in growing, harvesting and preparing our food - at least it is to me.

When it comes time to slaughter I don't want to spend a lot of time doing it - but at the same time I don't want the animal to be frightened.

I have two important considerations when I slaughter:

1.  I don't want another animal to see the kill.  People have told me that the other animals aren't smart enough to know what is going on.  I think that is an arrogant assumption.  We are animals and I certainly know if you are sitting next to me and you get your head sliced off.  I may not react but I know it is happening.


2.  The animals need to be tame.  If the animal is tame, used to petting and being handled it will trust me no matter what I do - whether I use a killing cone, pruning shears or a hatchet.  I have made the mistake of not taming the animals on my last two batches of chickens and I regret it.  The birds were frightened and it was traumatic for both me and the bird.  So I guess you have to spend time on the front end (raising them) or the back end(slaughtering). 


I would like to find a guillotine contraption that I can use sort of one handed.  anyone know of such a thing?



I agree with you on the time. Also, I think animals know even if they don't see it. We've slaughtered a fair amount of birds all at once, the birds are left in the barn and simply retrieved one at a time to slaughter. The first birds are easy peasy, the last birds freak out. I think they know.
 
elle sagenev
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William James wrote:Bump!
rather than starting a new post, I'll ask the question here.

1. How long does it take for the chicken to lose consciousness after the swipe of the blade? Alexis's chicken was shaking the head after a few seconds of being supposedly unconscious.

2. Would an exacto knife be interesting as a sharp-enough-blade?

3. She's dealing with a chicken who seems near the end of it's life and potentially sick.
3a. Wouldn't that make the kill easier? I have very volitile chickens who don't like being handled. I imagine that this type of activity wouldn't go over very well with them and getting them to 'calm down' (inasmuch as we assume that the chicken is indeed calm) would be harder.

3b. Any qualms about eating a sick chicken?

I went to the vet today to have a chicken put down. Tragedy all around in terms of money, time spent on keeping it alive, people's emotions, etc. Looking into harvesting the other nine when their time is up rather than going through this again.
William



On the knife thing, a box cutter often works better than a real knife. We have a knife and hatchet made by smith & wesson and a few birds in you need to sharpen. With a box cutter you just cut, cut, cut then switch blades when needed. Much easier all around.


I don't handle my chickens much at all and have to catch them with a fish net. I don't really believe the chickens get calm. I've killed sick chicks before and they acted quite calm but I don't for a minute believe they weren't freaking out.
 
William James
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I'm getting the sense here that there are people on both sides of the question "does a chicken get calm when you bring darkness around it's head?"

For the record, I calm chickens down every day by putting their heads into my armpit and covering their heads with my hand. It never fails to calm them. Slower breathing, less fighting the fact of being held. A vet taught me that trick. He had another trick to hypnotize them by placing his finger on the ground, but I didn't catch that one.

Anyway, I currently have a broody chicken that outside of my arms with it's head covered has raised feathers and goes cluck cluck and is generally very pissed off. With it's head covered it is totally calm. Once the head goes up and she gets a look around, she gets back to her pissy mood and starts clucking again.

Thanks Elle for the tip on the box cutter. Good to know.

People who have freaking out chickens at slaughter time should try the "midnight slaughter" trick and report back about its effectiveness. That's the way I would go if I were to do it.

Personally, I would have a problem with catching a chicken with a net and slaughtering it, but that's me. Especially when they're "sitting ducks" at midnight. I actually prefer to have that trust relationship that I suppose is difficult in larger groups. That said, if you raise them from chicks I've heard they aren't afraid of you nearly as much. They jump all over you I hear. Could get annoying. Mine can be caught by hand and they come up near me with no problem, until I stick my hands out or look directly at them.

William
 
William James
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PS: One of the things that this video brings out is the connection that is lost in industrial chicken slaughter. That connection is something I think eaters of chicken can appreciate and people who don't eat chicken can appreciate as well (at least I do), even if they would never eat or slaughter a chicken. It's about a person connected viscerally to their own food, while for the vast majority of us chicken comes in a happy meal or from the supermarket shelf. It's a whole other experience of food and life that is being portrayed.

William
 
elle sagenev
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William James wrote:I'm getting the sense here that there are people on both sides of the question "does a chicken get calm when you bring darkness around it's head?"

For the record, I calm chickens down every day by putting their heads into my armpit and covering their heads with my hand. It never fails to calm them. Slower breathing, less fighting the fact of being held. A vet taught me that trick. He had another trick to hypnotize them by placing his finger on the ground, but I didn't catch that one.

Anyway, I currently have a broody chicken that outside of my arms with it's head covered has raised feathers and goes cluck cluck and is generally very pissed off. With it's head covered it is totally calm. Once the head goes up and she gets a look around, she gets back to her pissy mood and starts clucking again.

Thanks Elle for the tip on the box cutter. Good to know.

People who have freaking out chickens at slaughter time should try the "midnight slaughter" trick and report back about its effectiveness. That's the way I would go if I were to do it.

Personally, I would have a problem with catching a chicken with a net and slaughtering it, but that's me. Especially when they're "sitting ducks" at midnight. I actually prefer to have that trust relationship that I suppose is difficult in larger groups. That said, if you raise them from chicks I've heard they aren't afraid of you nearly as much. They jump all over you I hear. Could get annoying. Mine can be caught by hand and they come up near me with no problem, until I stick my hands out or look directly at them.

William



Good news is the meat breed chickens we slaughter are too fat to run. The turkeys we did were the same. Only the layers have enough gumption to run and require being caught with a net. We only catch to give medical care or to kill. Otherwise our chickens are free to do whatever they feel like, though my husband is always threatening to kill the ones that get no his car. He hasn't yet, so it's all talk.
 
pollinator
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Hi I'm reviving this thread to ask if anyone uses the broomstick method on their chickens?  I've recently learned that the only way to legally kill your chickens in the UK is by cervical dislocation, and for us that means broomstick.  I've never done it or seen it done, but I've read about it a little.  We've got two young cockerels (about 4 months old) that are just getting too noisy for our residential neighborhood, and we have to do it soon.  Like within a day or two.

Here's what I want to know:  do I have to pull swiftly, or can I pull slowly and firmly?  I have a horror of the headless chicken running around, which makes me leary of the swift pull.  Is it obvious when they are dead?  Is there an obvious sound or feel?  Is there anything I should be aware of?

We want to kill our cockerels quickly and humanely--and legally.  Any suggestions or advice is appreciated.
 
William James
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@Galadriel

You might want to google that. Cervical dislocation, at least to my quick glance at the results, doesn't seem to be an accepted method of slaughter.

http://www.hsa.org.uk/downloads/annual-reports-and-newsletters/News%202013.pdf

"With EC Regulation 1099/2009 coming into force on 1 January 2013, there are now limitations to the use of cervical dislocation to kill poultry. "

But I could be wrong.
-W
 
G Freden
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William James wrote:

"With EC Regulation 1099/2009 coming into force on 1 January 2013, there are now limitations to the use of cervical dislocation to kill poultry. "



Thanks William;  I had a quick skim of that regulation and it basically says that small scale slaughter of poultry (and rabbits and hares) for personal consumption is exempt.  So I'm a bit more confused!  I think it's allowed?  And maybe the way in Paul's video is also allowed, as per EC Reg 1099/2009?  Thanks for putting me onto it, anyway, as I feel a little more confident that I'm not breaking the law...(I think?)

 
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My respectful chicken harvest video has now passed one million views


 
G Freden
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Galadriel Freden wrote:
Here's what I want to know:  do I have to pull swiftly, or can I pull slowly and firmly?  I have a horror of the headless chicken running around, which makes me leary of the swift pull.  Is it obvious when they are dead?  Is there an obvious sound or feel?  Is there anything I should be aware of?

We want to kill our cockerels quickly and humanely--and legally.  Any suggestions or advice is appreciated.



Just as a follow up, I have done the broomstick method now, both to put down a very badly injured adult hen and to kill cockerels for eating.  The very first one (the fully grown adult):  head stayed on, some flapping, hard to know if dead...  The second, 4 month old cockerel:  head came off, crazy amount of flapping, luckily only an initial splash of blood and not as messy as I feared--and I knew for sure that bird was dead despite the fact that he was still trying to escape for another full minute.  I kept a good grip on him so there was no headless chicken chase.  

To answer my own question above, I pulled gently until the neck was fully extended, then gave a swift jerk, followed by another swift jerk just to make sure.  The first time there was a definite sound like a snap or a crack, that I could also feel through the bird's legs (which I was holding).  The bird immediately began flapping.  This also happened the second time (the younger bird), though feeling that crack through the legs made me think I'd dislocated them rather than breaking his neck so I gave another hard pull, thus pulling his head off (three pulls altogether).  Though I haven't been able to hear and feel the snap every time, they all start that manic flapping as soon as I do the first hard pull, which I now associate with a broken neck.  Once flapping I try to hang the bird upside down (I have a hanging basket support on my garage wall that's perfect for this) and let him finish;  I'll feel his neck to make sure there's a gap there, and then quickly slash it to let him bleed out.  

As a side note, all the birds I have done with the broomstick have been Australorps:  very big chickens.  I don't know if it's easier or harder with smaller birds:  I may find out in a month or two when our two Leghorn cockerels start crowing.
 
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