How NOT to kill a chicken or turkey (especially if you have young children)

Chickens pecking at feed

Photo by Fir0002,, 2010

This Christmas, my sister and I had our brother came down from Cleveland, Ohio to spend the holidays in Aberdeen! It is turning to be great fun and I couldn’t help remembering some of our Christmases growing up back at home. Especially the one with the headless chicken…..

I think it was 1987 or thereabouts. My mum bought 3 live chickens (chicken is more common for Christmas than turkey where I am from) for Christmas lunch. She bought them about a month in advance. Because we three kids stuck together like glue and we looked like triplets anyway (actually 18 months apart each), we divided everything by 3. And fortunately, there were 3 chickens so we named them after ourselves! Chicken 1 was K, chicken 2 was N and of course, my lil’ bro, R was chicken 3. It all worked out! So each day after school, we’d come into the back garden and play with the chickens, chasing them around and observing what K, N and R were up to. Then one day, we came home to find R’s (chicken 3) legs tied together and under my mum’s feet. She had a knife in her right hand.

I exclaim, ‘oh no, she’s killing R!!!’
My sister shouts, ‘Mummy, don’t kill R!’

And we start to cry and mum just can’t make the move to cut the chicken’s throat. She let’s R the chicken go from under her feet and there were signs of relief all round. It’s one of those pictures that never leaves my brain. Now, it’s funny and we laugh when we talk about but that day, when R’s neck was about to get wasn’t funny.

Somehow, mum got us all in the house and tried to get on with killing the chickens in time for Christmas lunch. She had some success, well kind of because as she finally got K (Chicken 1) in the right position, with the knife slicing through her neck, my sister and I spring out of nowhere (actually we had been peeping through the kitchen door for 3 seconds before)! We gave my mum such a fright, she let go of K and ooooooooh boy. The chicken went berserk around the garden at unbelievable speed, headless. The rest is history as they say. We did not go hungry that Christmas but we nearly did. And my mum never bought things in 3s again, especially LIVE things.

So if you can help it this Christmas:

  • Opt for dead birds at the store
  • If you must have a live one, don’t let your kids get acquainted
  • Keep the kids away when you are killing the bird
  • And finally, don’t let go of the bird until you’re sure it’s dead!

This christmas will be awesome as we reflect on the good times and even “scary” times like the headless chicken and laugh so hard. I am very grateful for my siblings this christmas. And I hope life continues to let us smile and laugh together for as long as possible.

Left to right: K, N and R, Christmas 2010 (The humans, 24 years later)

Happy christmas!


  1. Smile! This story reminds me of the one my mom tells about when she was a little girl and was given animals as gifts. She would go away for the summer for two weeks after raising them all year and come home to find out that her animals, chickens, pigs, had been stolen…i.e. eaten.


  2. oh my word! This is hilarious…………………………….love it.


  3. Great advice for moms! I can’t imagine trying to kill them after the kids had named them and felt so attached. You were also brave kids to scare your mom with a knife in her hands.

    I wish you and the siblings a terrific holiday together. Sounds like you are set for great stories and making new memories.


  4. LOL. I swear every Nigerian (or maybe African) child goes thru that. … i.e: the trauma of realising that the delicious meat you are eating is actually your pet goat/chicken/duck/ or in the case of 404…. (ha!)
    Merry Christmas.
    ps: U may be d ONLY one dat looks Xactly d same as I remember.


  5. Hilarous can’t stop laughing…


  6. victoria says:

    Hilarous, yes and cant get it out of my head too. luckily times have changed and the kids have the previlage of just seeing the chicken in the stew. what a relief. thanks for bringing the memories back. though its old hp you had a great holiday. keep the stories coming, ur doing a great job


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