What to do with a dead chicken? (aka, R.I.P. Fluffy)

Adam Taggart
By Adam Taggart on Sat, Dec 22, 2012 - 7:15pm

After playing a game of Sorry, my 6 year-old looked out in the backyard and exclaimed "Daddy, look at the rainbow!".

It was a nice moment. A beatuiful full-arc rainbow stretched across the distant hills. I smiled, and then wondered:

Is that a hawk in our yard?

Sure enough it was. A massive red-tailed hawk.

Lucky me. Two wonders of nature to observe at the same moment. But then I wondered:

Why is that hawk in our yard?

Uh oh.

Sure enough. Our small flock of chickens is now one smaller. Poor Fluffy. I hope it was over quickly for her.

So my question is: does anyone have advice for how best to dispose of a dead chicken? I was thinking about simply digging a hole and burying her. Or more gruesomely, just letting nature take its course and let the carrion-feeders do their thing.

But the little amount I've read online seems to indicate that if you let the local wildlife eat the carcass, their demand for freshly-slaughtered chicken grows.

So, the current plan is to just double-bag her and inelegantly send her off on trash collection day.

But if there are better ideas, I'm open to them.

R.I.P. Fluffy. You were a good chicken to us.


Amanda Witman's picture
Amanda Witman
Status: Peak Prosperity Team (Offline)
Joined: Mar 17 2008
Posts: 409
I'm so sorry for your loss. We had a similar situation...

...a few years back.  Three hens dead in one night, likely by weasel.  I wrapped ours in a piece of junk biodegradable fabric (for the aesthetics of it, I guess) and put them in our compost bin.  I can't tell you how long it took for them to break down into compost, but they did turn completely into dirt.

We did not have good luck with our flock.  One was taken by a hawk (you could see the golden feather "takeoff strip" where the hawk flew off with her), one escaped a hawk and lived, one was carried off by a neighbor's dog, three were killed by that weasel, and we lost a few others to various creatures (raccoon, fox, fisher cat?)

Lessons learned here: 

1.  Our coop setup was not secure enough for our very rural location; next time I'd build a very secure coop and/or get a dog for protection from predators.  There is no dog in our future, so I'm taking my time with our next coop design and construction to be absolutely sure it's predator-proof.  Even though we are in town now, I don't trust the neighbors' dogs.

2.  When free-ranging hens in hawk territory, consider confining them with a lightweight movable fence, and consider choosing an area to enclose that has low bushes for protection from swooping hawks.

3.  Chickens with names are hardest to lose.  (Sorry, Fluffy...) 

Anyway, I recommend burying her in the compost pile.  Worked for us.

Woodman's picture
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 26 2008
Posts: 1028
chicken loss

Sorry, we lost a buff orpington rooster named Fluffy earlier this year too.  I've buried dead chickens out back before but unless you really get them deep enough dogs or other critters seem to dig them up.  So I've been bagging them well and sending out with the weekly trash pickup.  

jasonw's picture
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 17 2011
Posts: 1029
Lost a meat chicken last night

Just finished burying a meat bird this morning that must have been grabbed before we locked up the flock last night.  They are currently free ranging and there was intense fog last night.  Buried it in the new garden space to add to soil fertility.  I just wish I had a better solution than burying it.  Seems like such a waste of time, feed, and energy to lose a chicken and have to just throw it away or bury 98% of it.  Any thoughts on how to improve the utilization of this loss of life?

rheba's picture
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 22 2009
Posts: 74
composting dead animals

If the chicken is recently dead and not diseased you can eviscerate and feed to you dog (if your dog is used to eating raw.) Otherwise you can compost in peat moss and lime.

We butcher our own meat birds and compost the feathers and guts. The trick is to make a good pile of peat moss, put in the birds with quite a bit of agricultural lime and then cover with more peat moss. Our state's DEP told me they once composted a whole cow in 4 months with nothing left but bones.

The peat moss we use has horse manure or goat manure and urine mixed in so it is dampish. I have never had a problem with any animal coming to dig it up but you might want to cover with a piece of chicken fencing. You can certainly carry out this operation right in your garden and mix in a bit of garden soil as well but in the winter you want to be sure that you get some heat going in the peat moss so you may want to put some manure in.

Sometimes, if it is just one bird, I will put it in a bag in the freezer and wait till composting conditions improve in the spring.

kevinoman0221's picture
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 25 2008
Posts: 144
maggot feeding station...

I have heard of people putting roadkill or other such meat into 5-gallon buckets with leaves and twigs, with holes cut in the bottom, such that flies will lay eggs in the meat, and the larva will hatch, crawl around, fall out the bottom of the bucket, and be eaten by the chickens before it gets a chance to turn into a fly. I have not done this myself, but would consider it if I lived in a more rural area. For more info, see the first post in this thread:


It is thought to be safe from disease because the chickens are not eating the meat directly. They get a nice protein boost from eating the fly larva. (I have even heard of people feeding the chicken carcass to the other chickens directly, and they say the chickens do not develop problems with attacking each other or anything from that, but that is taking things too far in my opinion.)

I have lost chickens as well, and felt quite sad, even though I knew when I "signed up" for chicken raising that it was likely I would lose some.

I put mine in bags and disposed of them in the garbage. Composting sounds like a good option too.

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