End of Life

Chicago’s Municipal Code prohibits possession of any animal for the purpose of slaughtering for food without a state permit and business license to do so. See Ban of unlicensed possession of animals for slaughter in the Municipal Code (type 'slaughter' into the Search box).

We provide information about humane & sanitary slaughtering methods & options as part of teaching best practices and preventing problems. IF ONLY in case of dire emergency, backyard chicken keepers may want to be familiar with how to kill a chicken.

Below is an assortment of youtube video links (watch at your own discretion). They show a variety of techniques (and scales of operation.)

Following them is regulatory info about poultry processing from the State's Dept of Agriculture, and a list of Live Poultry firms in Chicago. They provide slaughter and butchering service for live animals quickly, cleanly, and inexpensively, and many backyard chicken keepers have used their services when culling from their flocks. See this description on the Learning Center's blog of one of these businesses, Chicago Live Poultry House, in Little Village.


  • This video of a simple and calm DIY method may surprise you.
  • This excellent video of butchering, from Featherman.net, provides narration in detail (he makes/sells the plucking machine shown).
  • This video shows a small-scale and apparently well-run operation. Michael Pollan’s description of Joel Salatin’s systems at Polyface Farm in An Omnivore’s Dilemma suggests something like this. It goes through the whole process (killing, plucking, gutting, etc) but isn’t narrated.
  • See the New England Small Farm Institute (NESFI)’s mobile processing unit here.


Information from the IL State Dept of Agriculture. Main page is: Agricultural Industry Regulation

The following comes from the Division of Food Safety and Animal Protection, Bureau of Meat and Poultry.

They license and inspect meat and poultry brokers and processors around the state. According to the website, there are two types of processing establishments that the Bureau licenses.

  • Type 1 establishments are licensed to receive live animals, slaughter them under inspection, and sell them to the public in IL.
  • Type 2 establishments are licensed to receive live animals and provide slaughter and processing as a service, but not to sell the meat. The meat has to be for the owner’s personal use.

Their FAQs include the following (remember, this comes from the State of IL Dept of Ag):

  • A ‘Custom Operation’ is one in which a person or entity offers slaughter and/or processing services to the public for a fee. The animal to be slaughtered or the meat to be processed belongs to the customer, not the establishment. After the services are rendered, all of the resultant material must be returned to the owner of the animal or altered in an approved manner to prevent its use as food.
  • A ‘Producers Exemption’ is included in the Meat and Poultry Inspection Act. It exempts you from the requirements for inspection when slaughtering your own animal, on your own property, for consumption in your household. The producer/owner must own the animal for 20 days prior to slaughter.
  • Meat products sold to the public…shall not be produced in a residence.

So it seems that the Live Poultry places (see the list at right) in Chicago at least need to be licensed as Type 2 establishments in order to stay in good standing with the Dept of Ag. Good to know this service is articulated in state regulations – and evidently some of these businesses expect it and/or are unfazed by the request.

The Producers Exemption piece, however, suggests that we should clarify rules before bringing birds from various households to another producers’ property, even if each person slaughters their own birds.


See LTHForum.com, "the Chicago-based culinary chat site" for this list of live poultry shops in Chicago, updated in 2015:

"...Over the years I've maintained a list of live poultry shops in Chicago but haven't updated it for a while (was the last time really in 2008?). So this seems like as good a time as any to do it. Additions or corrections are appreciated."

Aden Live Poultry

2731 W Lawrence Av



Alliance Poultry Farms

1636 W Chicago Av



Cermak Live Poultry

1823 W Cermak Rd



Chicago Live Poultry

6421 N Western Av



Chicago Live Poultry House

2601 S Ridgeway Av



Ciale's Poultry Store

2141 W Armitage Av



Fermin's Poultry

5932 S Pulaski Rd



Francisco Pollo Vivo

3752 S Ashland Av



Garibay Poultry

2100 S California Av



John's Live Poultry

5955 W Fullerton Av



MAK Live Poultry

2600 W 51st St



Western Live Poultry

2003 S Western Av



Windy City Poultry

4601 S Kedzie Av



Wing Ho 128 Live Poultry

244 W 26th St




The following list of Live Poultry places is from a discussion on the Chowhound site, and several of the writers there had comments to offer. See these: chowhound 1 and chowhound 2.

Chicago Live Poultry: http://www.freshchickens.com/

6421 N. Western Ave, Chicago, IL 60639

773.381.1000, 773.973.2531

At Fresh Chicken, we slaughter live Chickens, Rosters, Hens, Rabbits, Ducks, Turkeys, Pheasants, Pigeons, Catfish and so much more in a Zabiha/Halal traditional way. http://www.antwifarms.com/chicagolivepoultry.shtml

chowhound 1

If you buy chicken at a live poultry store, you should be aware that cooking chicken while in rigor mortis produces one tough bird. Either cook it real fast (less than an hour from slaughter to pan) or wait until the muscles relax. Long ago I raised chickens and dressed them out, so I remember this problem but not how long it takes for the muscles to relax. It would be a pity to have a bad experience with what will be a premium-priced bird.

Chicken in the stores I have seen are kept in batteries, which are cages stacked on top of each other. Battery chicken used to be a pejorative due to low quality from the cramped growing conditions. If the chickens haven't been kept in batteries too long, the quality may be OK.

Live poultry stores tend to come and go as they aren't the best neighbors and tend to serve ethnic groups where the history of refrigeration and chicken quality aren't all that great. One not mentioned in the thread cited in another post has a rather mysterious name. The sign outside says Live Zahiba Poultry although there is no telephone listing under that name. Several languages are in the sign. This store in in what is probably the crummiest block in Lincoln Square.

Live Zahiba Poultry

2741 West Lawrence Avenue


chowhound 2

Chicago Live Poultry House

2601 S Ridgeway


Ali Ziyad, Owner, 2 employees, Since 1997

Chicago Live Poultry and Grocery

6421 N Western


Ciale’s Poultry Store

2141 W Armitage


John's Live Poultry and Egg Market

5955 W Fullerton


This list was about sourcing good poultry and also peppers – may not all do the live poultry business --

Old World Market

5129 N Broadway



John's Live Poultry & Egg Market

5955 W Fullerton Ave

Chicago,IL 60639


African Supermarket

4158 W Madison St



Chicago Live Poultry

6419 N Western Ave

Chicago,IL 60645


Williams Live Chickens

1512 W Chicago Ave

Chicago,IL 60622


Ash Town Store

4560 N Broadway



Makola African Super Market

1017 W Wilson Av



Unity Food Import

8462 S Commercial Av



From the chowhound blog: Try also Noor Meat Market on Devon a couple blocks west of Western. They have the cheapest organic chickens around, and sometimes smaller ones.

From the chowhound blog: I have shopped at all the live poultry places mentioned in the previous email and Chicago Live Poultry on Western and Devon is best. Call ahead-- they might well have small chickens. Keep in mind that the weight they give you on the phone is the weight before the bird is dressed.

Linda Nellett’s recommendation:

Elston Chicken Poultry, 4350 N. Elston Ave (between Montrose and Pulaski), telephone 773-545-5589.

And also -- one of the closer, larger processors in IL: Central Illinois Poultry Processing, 119 N Cr 000 E, Arthur, IL 61911-6532, (217) 543-2937. Andy Jess, Owner; Est number of employees: 15; Year established: 1996