Best Knives For Processing Chickens


That time has finally come on your homestead journey.  It’s that moment when you’re finally ready to begin culling your chicken flock.  But you want to make sure you do it right.  For me, I was hesitant because I didn’t know if the knife I was about to use was good enough.  

It’s been 10 years now and many knives have come and gone, but a few are still around.  Many worked well, but I was always on the lookout for one that would work great!

The Wüsthof Classic Curved Boning Knife is the best knife for processing chickens.  The blade is sharp and holds an edge for a very long time.  The forged steel of the blade is exceptionally well crafted.  It performs extremely well in all aspects of the chicken butchering process.

With the Wüsthof Boning Knife, I no longer feel unsure about whether or not my knife is good enough.  From the moment it came out of the box, I could tell it was better than other knives.  The only drawback is, it’s expensive.

But that’s ok, because there is another knife that performs almost as well as the Wüsthof Boning Knife.


Related: The best knife for processing a chicken is the Wüsthof Boning Knife, hands down. If you want quality and are looking to pay for it, then this is the knife to have when processing your chickens, from performing the killing cut to post processing.

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Best Budget Knife For Processing Chickens

So you already know my favorite knife for killing and processing chickens, but the price may be a little too steep for you.  It was for me too until I actually tried it.  But before I did get my hands on a Wüsthof Boning Knife, there was another knife that ended up being my go to knife.

For a quarter of the price of a Wüsthof Boning Knife, the Forschner Boning Knife is 90% as good.  It can cut for days without having to be resharpened.  I found them to perform the killing cut exceptionally well, slicing through with ease.

That’s really important to me because I want to be sure the chicken gets dispatched as quickly and humanely as possible and I want a knife that I can feel confident in doing that.

I got turned onto this knife by a friend who has a meat bird CSA.  They would process 50 birds a day and claim that they could get through that many birds without having to resharpen the blades.  

I haven’t been able to confirm that claim, but I know from using mine, it has stayed sharp for a really long time between sharpenings.

The price of this knife is low enough that if it ever has any issues, you can just buy yourself a new one.


Related: For those of you looking for a good knife that won’t break the bank, then look no further than the Forschner Boning Knife. Almost as good as the more premium knives used for butchering chickens but at a fraction of the cost.

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Secret Tool That Works Extremely Well When Butchering Chickens

Butchering chickens is not an easy job.  No matter what knives you use, cutting through bone is not easy.  If you have a few that you need to process, there is a tool that can make your job so much easier.

This may sound crazy, but a good, sharp pair of garden bypass loppers work wonders when processing chickens.

I wouldn’t use it to actually kill the chicken, although it could cut through the neck with ease. It does work great for cutting off the feet or the wings or any other larger cut that may be more difficult for a knife to do.

Why a bypass lopper and not a hand pruner, you may ask?

A lopper gives you leverage.  The long handles make it easier to cut through bones.  Hand pruners may be compact, but difficult to use when trying to cut through thicker bone.

Using loppers has cut my butchering time by 40%.  They make the job so much faster.  Gone are the days of me trying to saw through bone while processing birds.  A quick cut with the loppers, done!


Related: Make chicken butchering that much easier. Get yourself a good pair of garden loppers. You’ll be able to process a chicken in no time.

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The Wüsthof Boning Knife Vs. The Forschner Boning Knife

What good would a knife review be without actually running some sort of side-by-side comparison?

I compared not only price and materials, but how they perform to make sure you get the right knife for you.  

I tested the ease of cutting through bone, edge longevity, and steel strength.  Some of it is subjective but still comes from experience over time handling both of these knives.

PriceMaterialBone Cutting Ease (1-10)Edge Longevity (total cuts before sharpening)Steel Strength (1-10)
Wüsthof Boning Knife$119.95High Carbon Stainless Steel10673 cuts10
Forschner Boning Knife$34.99High Carbon Stainless Steel9482 cuts9

So what does this chart tell us?  It’s pretty clear, the Wüsthof Boning Knife is the better knife, but not by much.  The Forschner Boning Knife performs almost as well but is so much more affordable.  I don’t know about you, but I sure like value for what I get and the Forschner Boning Knife definitely wins there.

Humanely Killing A Chicken

For those of us who live off-grid, providing our own food is important to us.  It’s easy to pick a tomato or cut some lettuce, but when it comes to processing your own meat, things get a little harder.

It’s not easy killing a living creature, no matter how much their crowing annoys you.  It is a life that you are taking and you want to be sure that you take it in the most humane way possible.

Many studies and trials have been done and the consensus is that a chicken killing cone is the most humane way to dispatch a chicken.  By placing the chicken upside down, held by the walls of the cone, the chicken is able to calm down before being dispatched.

In this position, it is easy to hold on to the chicken’s neck and then slice with a sharp knife to bleed out the chicken.  The chicken remains contained, unable to flop around as is common with other killing methods.

I like to try and calm the chicken down before it even gets placed in a cone.  You can actually “hypnotize” a chicken and place it into some sort of trance state before placing it in the cone.

To do this, tuck the chicken’s head under one of its wings.  Hold the chicken in your hands, keeping the wings held close to the chicken’s body, and move the chicken in a figure 8 pattern through the air.  This has a profound effect on calming down a chicken.

Combine that, with a killing cone and a sharp knife, and you have the tools to process a chicken as humanely as it can possibly be.  Good Luck.

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Sean Jennings

Sean has been living simply Off-Grid in Hawai'i for over 18 years. He lives debt free on Hawai'i Island with his family and over 40 chickens. When he's not tinkering around the homestead, he's off exploring the shorelines for fish & surf.

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