Given that the chicken is not contaminated by poison, and it simply dies of heart failure or heat stroke and not anything that makes it immediately inedible, how long does it take before a dead chicken becomes inedible?

  • 2
    This is absolutely non-answerable. Under different circumstances the same chicken could become very poisonous to one person and just be food to another. I don't see any thing to do with this question but close it, but I will ask you to take a look at this: cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/21068/…
    – Jolenealaska
    Commented Mar 5, 2017 at 13:31

3 Answers 3


I will post as an answer as too long for comment, but would support closing as opinion based with no definitive answer.

When I raise meat chickens, my answer was zero. Even if the cause was harmless, the meat would be low quality at best due to lack of ability to remove blood. Even simple heart failure, besides the lack of ability to purge blood, could result in contamination from systemic issues related to poor circulation. Note that consumption of down birds was blamed for spreading Avian Influenza in Asia. The use of down animals was responsible for a widespread Mad Cow recall in US and Canada a few years ago.

At times, and in many cultures, using down animals, either dead or dying, has ranged from acceptable to taboo. I personally side with the taboo argument. I hate to waste an animal, but the risks are too high for me.

  • The stated assumption is the animal is not diseased.
    – paparazzo
    Commented Mar 6, 2017 at 17:42
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    @Paparazzi Understood, but from my own experience with broiler chickens, one could often know that it was heart failure, but until internal organs were examined one could not see evidence of water on the heart and other signs that flesh may have been affected. I personally always erred to caution and any signs of what might be unexpected I would discard. But, I was also selling, so needed to be more cautious. For me, apparent cause was not always true cause. I did evaluate on a case by case basis though.
    – dlb
    Commented Mar 6, 2017 at 17:54
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    +1. My grandfather is a retired veterinarian (for some part of his career even a meat safety inspector) who raised his own chickens, working under regulations which were much laxer than the FDA's - and for him, this was an unquestioned rule. If the chicken dies of its own, it's inedible, period.
    – rumtscho
    Commented Nov 26, 2019 at 15:24

If you just go with raw guidelines then 2 hours.

By not dressing (gutting) I don't think there is basis to extend that. But I know a lot of hunters including myself that go 4+ hours before dressing a bird and getting it on ice.

Not my intent to imply two hours is good with "If you go with guidelines then 2 hours". I just don't know. If you find guidelines they are not going to assume the bird died of natural causes. See answer from dlb.

If you just search on road kill a common guideline is clear eyes but that is something I cannot find any actual testing data on.

  • 4
    Clear eyes is also a very common guide with farm animals, birds especially. +1 for that. Note that if poultry is not well bled, that can cause it to have a more game like taste and spoil more quickly even after cooling.
    – dlb
    Commented Mar 6, 2017 at 17:57
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    There could be reasons to reduce it, though. Guidelines for handling raw meat assume it's been properly handled and prepared for consumers; seems quite possible that an unhandled dead chicken has higher risk of more significant contamination, or potential for faster growth.
    – Cascabel
    Commented Mar 7, 2017 at 3:05
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    Well, by not mentioning that possibility, you're implying that the two hours is safe, which is also speculation. I wasn't suggesting making specific claims, just mentioning that the safe time could be less.
    – Cascabel
    Commented Mar 7, 2017 at 15:04

I was also searching since I am concern if my rooster dying one day because I am tying him and I have a tree near him with a wood where he can rest which is where he likes to always be at and I am concern if he gets tangled on it.

I saw a link that may help its entitled : If an animal died this way, don’t eat the meat

The article mentioned that the animal may have died of the following causes and eating should be avoided: Poisoning, Disease, Lead ammunition, Bacteria, Parasites

  • 1
    I've fixed up your post to improve formatting and content a bit. Note that "Disease" generally includes things like bacteria and parasites. Lead ammunition also isn't usually a problem unless you are eating a lot of shot animals - and it would generally be pretty obvious if an animal has been shot.
    – bob1
    Commented Aug 20, 2019 at 16:46

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