What color should a freshly butchered chicken be?

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by fishermans wife, Apr 7, 2014.

  1. fishermans wife

    fishermans wife Songster

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    OK, feeling rather silly, but we are new to the whole meat chicken thing. We have butchered 2 of our Cornish X that are approximately 8 weeks old , one due to having difficulty breathing, and the other a leg issue. Both were put into a killing cone, throat slit, bled out, then we followed the instructions here to finish them up. Both ended up looking more pinkish orange on their skin/meat instead of the white you see at the store. Is that totally normal? Did we not bleed them properly? I realize store chickens are very different - but I just wanted to be sure we aren't missing something!

    We have 22 more to do in the next week!

    Thank you!
     
  2. chooks4life

    chooks4life Crowing

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    Personally I wouldn't butcher for food an animal that was suffering prolonged oxygen starvation. The damage to the meat is often serious. Under such stress, the kidneys etc release stored toxins. It's not likely to make you sick but it's just not the best for you, is all. Fresh all the way for me. ;)

    Anyway, there are white skinned chickens, yellow skinned ones, reddish and orangeish skinned ones, green and blue and purple skinned ones, black and grey skinned ones, and blotchy skinned ones. You can get mixes of all the colors of skin pigmentation possible.

    If its legs and beak were yellow, chances are the yellowish skin is just pigmentation. It could be yellow fat showing through white skin. It could also be jaundice, i.e. from liver damage, coloring the skin with bilirubin that wasn't eliminated due to organ problems.

    Best wishes.
     
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  3. fishermans wife

    fishermans wife Songster

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    Thank you for your response! Very helpful for a newbie!
     
  4. chooks4life

    chooks4life Crowing

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    You're very welcome. And in time no doubt you'll have something to share to help someone else. Or even me. :) There's nobody alive that knows it all and doesn't have room for more learning.

    Best wishes.
     
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  5. penella22

    penella22 In the Brooder

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    I was aware that chickens come in pink, white or yellow, but didn't realize there were so many other skin colors too! I also heard it was very common for cornish crosses to have breathing issues, and didn't realize you shouldn't eat them if they had...very interesting!
     
  6. blucoondawg

    blucoondawg Songster

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    I wouldn't hesitate to eat a cx that was having breathing issues or leg issues, I highly doubt there is anything wrong with the meat, and who knows how long it even had the issue, did the OP butcher immediately upon discovering the labored breathing? Or has it had issues since it was a chick? Who knows, but I definitely don't think it would be harmful to eat, if that were the case people would have to throw out a large amount of chicken the way some of these Cornish x have health issues.
     
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  7. fishermans wife

    fishermans wife Songster

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    I butchered this hen immediately on discovery of her having difficulty breathing! We ate her before I posted this... and we all lived [​IMG]. I monitor my chickens closely - checking on them several times a day. Especially because I am pushing them at almost 9 weeks right now. This is my first time with meat birds and I know they can develop these issues, and it is not my wish for any of them to suffer, so both chickens' issues showed up within a few hours of the last check on them.

    My feed store lady raised the other half and already butchered. The skin on her cornish X is almost white, but she reminded me that hers were raised in a covered dog run with no direct sunlight and only flock raiser feed. Mine however have been free range, spending time laying in the sun, and have been fed fermented feed along with fresh mowed grass, other greens, bugs, etc. So I would suspect that has something to do with the pinker skin - a little suntan perhaps?
     
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  8. blucoondawg

    blucoondawg Songster

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    I would say it is more likely from their differing feed than the suns rays, I'm sure you are fine eating them, the only time I wouldn't eat them is if they are found already dead of who knows what cause and for who knows how long before I find them. If dog kills one and I get to it right away or I cull it early due to leg issues or whatever reason I would eat it, maybe if it was showing extreme health issues like green mucus running out its beak and nostrils and constant coughing/ sneezing and lethargy then I wouldn't eat it but what you have described is surely fine.
     
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  9. fishermans wife

    fishermans wife Songster

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    Thanks so much for setting my mind at ease! I agree, we had a opossum take one a few weeks back - just ate out the neck and left the rest - that one did NOT get eaten!
     
  10. chooks4life

    chooks4life Crowing

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    Quote: Grass has a lot to do with 'coloring' chickens, yes. It makes a visual difference in skin, crest/wattles etc, flesh, yolks, organs, everything.
    Quote: The only real issue is in the animal having suffered for a long time.

    Asides from the ethics issue, the biological/physiological reason is that any suffering, whether from oxygen deprivation or any other issue, causes lactic acid buildup in the flesh, which severely degrades it, and releases stress hormones which cause toxins to be released into the flesh from fats, organs etc over time, as well as a host of other health problems.

    As with stressed/suffering humans, the longer they suffer, the worse their health gets. Things break down more and more and more the longer they're left in that state. Every process, even and one might say especially the immune system, is affected by suffering. Even after death the 'product' is unequal, as the mitochondria are exhausted; animals that suffered badly enough for long enough often do not even experience rigor mortis, and they rot in record time compared to an animal that suffered for a short time or not at all. They were already breaking down while alive.

    That's why an animal having suffered prolonged stress will be higher acid and worse quality than one that didn't suffer long or at all, and thereby worse for your health. This is one reason bruised animals' meat is sold much cheaper or even rejected outright by butchers etc.

    The emphasis is on 'prolonged' suffering --- if it only suffered a short time it's not going to degrade the whole body the way prolonged suffering does. It's not as great as a bird that didn't suffer but not as bad as one that suffered for a long time. Degrees of difference.

    As I said before, it's unlikely to make you sick, but if you made a habit of eating animals that suffered for prolonged periods before being culled, it would gradually impact on your health too.

    As you get more experienced with the differences in outcomes of good versus bad culls, you will be able to discern the taste in the ones that did not die well, and that's even in birds that only suffered for a short time. Growing and processing from home certainly educates the palate!

    Best wishes.
     

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