Can You Eat a Dead Chicken?

The question regarding whether you can eat a dead chicken or not has pertinence, whether you are a homesteader or in a survival situation. Finding a dead animal may look like a possible food resource. If you are in a survival-type position and come across a dead chicken, is it safe to eat it? If you are a homesteader and one of your chickens die, is it okay to eat it?

You can eat a dead chicken provided it hasn’t been dead for too long, and you can establish the cause of death with some certainty. Some circumstances that resulted in the death of the chicken may render the carcass unfit for human consumption and may be more of a danger to your than hunger.

In a survival situation, finding a dead animal may seem like a windfall, but some caution and common sense must be applied before assuming the carcass is good to eat.

Likewise, as a homesteader, if one of your flock has died, you may not want to waste the meat and consider using the chicken for a meal. While this is definitely a possibility, it does require some investigation to establish why the chicken died to make sure you can safely eat the meat.

How Long Has The Chicken Been Dead?

Meat left out in the open, exposed to heat, and the environment does not have a long time before it will cause you more problems than not if you choose to make a meal of it.

Even in the home environment, most people are aware that chicken does not last as long as red meat in a refrigerator.

Raw chicken in a fridge only lasts a couple of days before it starts to go off and becomes unhealthy to eat.

Raw red meat will last up to five days in a fridge before you need to regard it with suspicion and consider not using it.

In the case where the carcass has been out in the open, exposed to heat and bacteria, a chicken carcass can begin to deteriorate within a matter of hours, and within a day, it could be bad enough that eating it could cause you more problems than what the nutrition is worth.

The best way to identify if the meat is still edible is by smell and texture. Smell the meat to see if it has started to get a sweet or slightly off smell. If it has started to smell rotten, it is probably wise not o eat the meat.

When chicken meat starts to go off, it starts to take on a slimy texture, as opposed to the firm, dry texture of normal edible chicken meat.

If the meat is showing any of these signs of decay, it is probably not wise to use it for food. A normal human can go without food quite easily for 3 weeks, so foregoing a meal is not necessarily going to be too serious, unless you have been out in the wilderness for some time already.

What Happens If You Eat Rotten Chicken Meat

Eating rotten meat can cause a number of health risks that may reduce your chances of survival in a survival scenario, or at the very least, make you extremely ill. In some instances, eating rotten meat can result in death, so this is not something you want to experiment with.

At the very least, eating rotten meat can result in diarrhea, which, in a survival scenario, may be more dangerous than a lack of food. Diarrhea will very quickly result in dehydration, and this problem can be exacerbated if you are short of water.

Food poisoning is a more acute symptom which will result in diarrhea and vomiting, which will make the possibility of dehydration an even bigger problem.

Dehydration is not the only problem with eating spoiled chicken meat. You will also become very weak and unable to travel, so if your situation is a survival-type predicament, this could hinder your progress and prevent you from making sound judgment calls in your quest to survive the wilderness.

Salmonella poising is a very real possibility from eating spoiled chicken, and this alone has been known to cause people to die.

Never Eat Raw Chicken

Even in a survival situation, you should never eat raw chicken. The risks are simply not worth it. This is why your fire-making skills need to be top-notch, and you should be familiar with multiple ways of making fire without a lighter or matches.

If you have misjudged how off the meat is and it is borderline, you may be saved by the cooking process, which would destroy any bacteria that are starting to take hold in the flesh of the chicken.

What Caused The Death Of The Chicken?

You want to examine the carcass of the bird to try to establish what caused the death of the chicken. It would not be wise to eat a bird that died from illness or disease.

Birds that have died from a disease will show obvious signs of ill health, such as being overly skinny, loss of feathers, parasites such as ticks or fleas on the bird, and general lack of condition.

A bird that has died because of an injury sustained sometime back will probably not be fit to eat, and the wound would have already become infected with problematic bacteria, which quickly spread to the rest of the meat when the bird dies.

Can You Eat A Chicken Killed By A Predator?

This question can be a tricky one, which requires knowledge of the circumstances. What the predator was how badly the carcass is damaged and how fresh the kill is.

For example, a chicken that is killed by a snake bite will probably be good to eat. Snakes do not do much damage to the meat, and generally speaking, snake venom is not dangerous if ingested. The cooking process will probably break down the proteins of the snake venom and render it harmless, even if you have a cut in your mouth or a stomach ulcer.

If the chicken has been killed by a coyote, on the other hand, I would be hesitant to use it for meat, since the coyote could itself be carrying diseases which it could transmit to the chicken meat via the coyote’s saliva.

Raccoons usually bite off the head of the chicken and often don’t consume the rest of the bird. In this instance, after removing the neck of the chicken, the rest of the carcass should be good to eat.

Can You Eat A Chicken That Died Of Old Age?

While it is technically possible to eat a chicken that has died from old age, there may be other reasons that would persuade you otherwise.

A chicken that has died of old age will obviously be disease free, as there were no illnesses that caused its demise. However, an old chicken will not have much meat on it, as it would have started to deteriorate in condition as it got older. As a result of its age, the nutritional value of the meat will have reduced as well.

What meat there is on the old chicken will also be very tough, so you would have to cook the chicken meat for a long time to get it tender enough to eat. A slow cooker or a pressure cooker may be required to get the meat to a tender state for eating.

Trying to cook the meat like a young chicken will be possible, but you will be chewing for some time at the dinner table to process the tough meat.


Eating a dead chicken is definitely a possibility if you examine the bird properly and get the right answers to your evaluation of the carcass. In the event of a survival situation, you may be tempted to eat items that you ordinarily would turn your nose up at in normal circumstances, but care and common sense still needs to prevail, probably even more so in survival mode!

If there is any doubt as to how long the chicken has been dead or the cause of death, I would rather err on the side of caution and look for another meal with less potential for health risks!

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