Ode to Miss Americauna

Had to kill a chicken today.

Miss Americauna to Scampi’s right…
at the front door.

Miss Americauna was the only one of our birds with whom we could really be said to have a close relationship. Needless to say she was our favorite. Feisty, intelligent, full of energy, adventure, and will power, she liked us as much as we liked her. The other chickens followed her around on her free range jaunts.


Unfortunately, she developed a respiratory weakness, manifesting as a bad eye infection which finally moved to both eyes. Allowing problems like this to threaten the flock is not wise, and we let it go on far longer than others might have (then there’s always the risk of something serious, like H5N1). We doctored her for several weeks as best we could, but she didn’t respond to any treatment we were willing to use. We’re not raising birds or eggs to feed them antibiotics. Our interest is in cultivating the evolution of a healthy flock which doesn’t need drugs to stay alive.

In the course of trying to treat this condition, my relationship with Miss Americauna deepened — I came to like her even more, and she developed a trusting draw toward me. It may have been that trust which made ending her life so ‘perfect’. But I don’t think so. I believe that as soon as I picked her up, she knew, understood, and accepted what was about to happen. I know that’s a lot to attribute to the consciousness of a chicken, but it was my experience. And I believe it was hers.


Sue and I had mutually faced the reality that it was time for her to go. We chose the simplest, quickest, and least traumatic method of killing her. We were centered, surrendered, and well prepared. But it was Miss Americauna and the Grace of a greater power which facilitated the smooth, effortless experience. From the time I picked her up, she was quiet and did not struggle. I even took a side trip into the garage to grab some protective eyewear in case things did not go as planned, holding the submissive bird gently under one arm. Miss Americauna was not a quiet, submissive bird.

I walked over to where Sue was waiting, and we smoothly went through the procedure in a few, unhurried seconds. Never once did Miss Americauna, flinch, panic, squawk, or resist. She knew she was loved. She knew that we had tried hard to turn things around for her. She was ready to give it up, and try again in better circumstances next time.

None of the other birds are aware of Miss Americauna’s fate — except that she’s gone — but it’s already clear that they miss her as much as we do. Life and grace goes on at the Brahmanda Egg Farm and all other planes.





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10 thoughts on “Ode to Miss Americauna

  1. oh boy Larry and Sue; you called on a Higher Power there. A good lesson/reminder for all of us to give some things up that aren’t healthy for us, too. Bless you guys for being so loving. Love the name of the egg farm.

    1. Yes, Annie, as so often happens, even in death Miss Americauna lived spiritual principle: if we’re afraid of death (mini- or translation), how will we ever know the birth of the self?

  2. Larry and Sue, so sorry for your loss… it’s always hard to know when it’s time to let go of a beloved animal but it sounds like you gave her the best shot you could and all of you accepted it was time…good thoughts for to you and the rest of the flock…

    1. Thanks, Susan. Not often we get to observe perfection in taking a life.

  3. Perhaps Miss Americauna will choose to join us again in a stronger body. We have ten fertile eggs under a broody hen now, possibly hatching around May 5, if we are graced with such an experience.

  4. Oh no, what a sad (yet perfect) experience for you. Good luck with the hatch.

  5. What method did you use to end her life? I’m trying to understand the least traumatic way to kill a chicken, and I know you must have picked a method you felt was compassionate.

    1. Let me preface my reply, Elizabeth, with a couple of qualifiers.

      1. I’m a fledgling farmer: I haven’t killed a lot of birds using a wide variety of methods.
      2. Truth resides only in the moment: The ‘best’ method is not always the same one.

      I chose the ‘rake’ method with Miss Americauna. Using a sturdy old garden rake, I slipped her neck between the tines while Sue held the rake (the chicken’s head is bigger than the space between the tines). We smoothly, gently, quickly put the rake on the ground with Sue’s foot solidly on the rake, and I gave a quick, solid yank on the hen, feet in left hand, breast in right, both exerting equal force. I wanted the force to be focused on her neck, rather than spread over the whole spine, so I didn’t just hold her feet. The spinal cord was cleanly snapped, and it was over. Little trauma, no blood. The rake allowed her head to be held firmly without her face being mashed into the ground. Doing this without blood requires just the right amount of strength — too little, and the spinal cord does not snap; too much, and you yank the head off.

      Sorry if this is too graphic for you, but these are all things I considered before doing it.

      There are other humane methods, and this subject is discussed online, as I’m sure you’ve discovered. One forum you might check, if you haven’t already found it, is the Backyard Chickens Forum.

      I think the most important advice would be to chose the time and method based on you, your chicken/s, your skills, and the circumstances surrounding the need to kill the chicken. Get centered, do it in love, not fear, and know that it is perfect, regardless of the outcome your mind/emotions perceive.

      Thanks for caring!

  6. Thank you. It wasn’t too graphic at all – this was exactly what I was wanting to know. I haven’t heard of this method before. It sounds like it spared Miss Americauna any distress, pain, fear. I appreciate what you said at the end about getting centered and doing it in love.

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