Rigor Mortis?

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by e.lolly, Nov 2, 2008.

  1. e.lolly

    e.lolly Hatching

    Jun 29, 2008
    We butchered our first chicken on Thursday. I was pretty slow with plucking and eviseration and sometime during a rinse, I was holding the bird upside down by his legs and he stiffened up that way. I read somewhere that rigor mortis goes away in about 48 hours, but I just checked the carcass again and the legs are still stuck straight out and he is as stiff as a board! Did I do something wrong to make this chicken so stiff? I didn't chill him in cold water because it took me a bloody HOUR to finish him on a very cold day and the carcass felt cool by the time I was done so I just rinsed, wrapped and put in the fridge. Is it ok to eat him? It has been over 60 hours now but I am more than a little uncomfortable about this stiff leg thing..
  2. greyfields

    greyfields Crowing

    Mar 15, 2007
    Washington State
    I thought rigor mortis was about a 24 hour deal, but someone corrected me on here stating it was closer to 4 hours.

    Whichever the case, I never eat birds the day they are processed anymore. It's just never ended well.
  3. becky3086

    becky3086 Crested Crazy

    Oct 14, 2008
    Thomson, GA
    I wait two days because that was what I had read you should do.
  4. daleeper

    daleeper In the Brooder

    Apr 11, 2008
    If the bird cooled naturally in a short amount of time, you will probably be ok, but as you speed your process up, and do more than one chicken, I would be cooling with ice water, to get the inside cavity cooling as soon as possible.

    Letting the birds age is something we learned first hand just recently. Mom had always butchered the chickens when I was a kid, and froze them right away. When we ate them, they were a little on the tough side, and I could never understand the idea of homegrown chicken being better than store bought.

    Over the years of "growing wiser" (?) my wife and I decided we wanted to raise some chickens, with the main goal of avoiding the large packer processing. The first batch we butchered and froze the same day. Even though she cooked them just like she would the store bought, they were a bit tough. After reading here about aging the birds, the last batch have been aged at least 24 hours in the refrigerator, and what a difference it made. She roasted the first one yesterday, and it was real tender and juicy.

    Here is a link that discusses aging the birds.

  5. AllChookUp

    AllChookUp Will Shut Up for Chocolate

    May 7, 2008
    Frozen Lake, MN
    Wow, good info. This'll come in handy next spring when I raise a few meat birds.

  6. miss_thenorth

    miss_thenorth Songster

    Dec 28, 2007
    SW Ont, Canada
    Could you not age the chickens in the fridge for a few days after they thawed? Just wondering....

    Reason I ask is when we do deer, (which is hung for a day or two usually--less time if it is warm to hot outside) -after we thaw it we let it set in the fridge for a day or two before cooking it.
  7. e.lolly

    e.lolly Hatching

    Jun 29, 2008
    Thanks for the help, everybody. We are gonna try to cook him tonight. His legs are still stuck out in that unnerving position, but the meat does seem to be more relaxed after aging so long. I wonder why they are sticking out like that? I read something about a "cadaveric spasm" (sp?) like when someone has a violent death and their hands are permanently in a clenched position....I don't think that is the case with Stumpy, though. His death was very quick and hopefully not too painful for him. My Hubby broke his neck in less than a second. Then we hung him by his back legs and slit his throat to bleed him out. Maybe it was all of the hanging? I also held him by his back legs to rinse him off after plucking. That when they froze in that position. It is kind of creepy.[​IMG]
  8. silkiechicken

    silkiechicken Staff PhD Premium Member

    Stiff stiff legs and meat make me think of two things. 1) an older bird greater than 8-14 weeks, 2) water used to scald was greater than about 160F or was for too long, ie cooked the bit of outer meat and so it is crosslinked with legs out.

    Cook it and see if it's eatable would be what I'd do!
  9. ben&momschicks

    ben&momschicks In the Brooder

    Apr 11, 2008
    My husband turkey hunts and I told him not to carry the next one out of the woods by its feet the way he always does because it does the same thing. The legs stick straight out no matter what I do. I guess it's hanging for so long. We eat them anyway. I don't think the meat is bad, it's just the fact that the bird was hanging too long.
  10. rufus

    rufus Crowing

    May 17, 2007
    Uh, I remember people that would let a dead bird hang until it was "high" and then they would eat it. Now that I think about it, it is not something I really want to remember. Anyway it was supposed to make the meat very tender and tasty.


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