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Catching And Handling

The slaughter process begins when birds are caught and handled prior to killing. Correct handling ensures safety for the bird and the handler. During catching, noisy, rough or aggressive techniques will result in the birds panicking which may result in injury. In a confined space, panicked birds may flock together which can cause injury or suffocation to the birds.

To minimise disturbance it is important to approach birds quietly and calmly. If possible, catching under dim lighting conditions will help avoid panic. For birds in open spaces, small pens may be erected in which to confine birds before catching.

Poultry may also be caught individually with fishing nets. Care must be taken not to injure birds with the rim of the net. Remove the bird from the net gently, taking hold of the legs with one hand and securing the body and wings (or the neck for geese) with the other hand. Proceed to handle the birds as detailed in the species-specific sections of this guide.  (Producer-processors that catch relatively large numbers of birds at a time, may also find HSA Technical Note 15 useful.) 


Catching a chicken using a 50cm diameter trout fishing net.


Catching a goose with a larger, stronger, salmon fishing net.


When removing poultry from fishing nets, first secure both legs.


Once both legs are held, secure the neck (for geese) or body and wings and gently remove the bird from the net.

If birds are in cages or crates they should be removed singly and must be held securely with two hands over the wings. Care must be taken to avoid injury to the birds and to avoid squeezing the body, which can stop the bird breathing. When placing birds into cages or crates, put the birds in head-first to take advantage of the bird’s movement away from you.


Birds should be removed singly from cages and crates, with two hands held securely over the wings. A helper should control the lid of the crate to avoid other birds  escaping.


Birds should be placed into cages and crates head-first.

Birds must be caught and handled with care and consideration. Bone breaks, dislocations and bruising are common injuries which can occur when catching poultry, resulting in pain and poor carcase quality.

Carcase Damage

This is an example of an injury caused by poor handling prior to slaughter, resulting in suffering and poor carcase quality.

The method of handling will depend on the species of bird:

› Chickens

› Ducks

› Geese

› Guinea Fowl And Quail

› Turkeys


Remember: Always handle birds with care and consideration.

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