What Is It: March 2005 Unidentified Farm Tools and Implements

Readers have submitted pictures of three farm tools and implements whose purpose isn't clear. Maybe you know what they're for.

farm tools and implements - cutter for beheading chickens

This is a cutter for holding and beheading chickens.

Carl Dyer

Content Tools

The genius of pioneer inventors can confound us. Countless farm tools and implements that revolutionized agriculture in the 19th and early 20th centuries have become contemporary curiosities, or even mysteries. Readers have submitted three for this month. The first (item "A") is made of cast iron and has opposing claws or hooks. The second (item "B")has a small chain attached and appears to be some sort of hinged clamp. The third (item "C") is made of cast iron and is long and thin like a sword, but has a hollow in the "blade."

February’s Mystery Tools

Item "A", owned by Frank Thompson of Valley, Wash, is still a mystery. Does anyone out there know anything about this tool or what it may be used for?

Item "B", owned by Cal Dyer of Buhl, Idaho, is a device for slaughtering chickens or other poultry. Jack Wollard of Bloomfield, Iowa, says, "The one shown in the picture is for a right handed person. In early slaughtering operations, chickens would be inserted head first into a spoutless funnel suspended from an overhead monorail conveyor, with their heads protruding through the opening. The funnel prevented the bird from flailing their wings and jumping around. The worker grasped the chicken just behind the head with his/her left hand. The plier device in the right hand was opened with the spoon-shaped jaw placed over the crown of the bird's head, which positioned the knife blade directly under the throat of said bird. Upon closing, the blade was forced upward through the throat and jugular vein. I imagine that PETA, had they been around in those days, would have taken an extremely dim view of this process."

Item "C", owned by Wilfrid Vittetoe of Washington, Iowa, is a hog ringer. According to an Oct. 3, 1932 patent description: "The principle object of the invention is to provide a portable and manually operated clincher with a magazine for carrying a plurality of unclenched rings from which the rings may be fed into clinching position automatically as used." Additionally, the patent reads, "This invention relates to a ring clincher which is particularly applicable for ringing hogs, applying clamping wires or rings to fences or other similar purposes wherever it is desired to clinch a wire ring into place." Jim Mau provided the patent, no. 1,948,865, dated Feb. 27, 1934. FC