What Is Green Muscle Disease?

You’ve ordered your meat chicks, built your perfect chicken tractor while you wait patiently for the chicks to arrive at your post office. You’ve researched how to raise meat birds, and give them the best care possible as they grow. But at processing time, you’re shocked to find that some of your birds have unsightly green-colored breast meat. What happened?

Green muscle disease is also known as Deep Pectoral Myopathy (DPM). This condition is most commonly found in Cornish cross broilers that can grow to a large size very rapidly, and are bred to develop heavy breast meat. 

Green Muscle

Cause

The breast muscles are responsible for the flapping motion of the wing. When the birds are allowed to rapidly flap their wings, the blood supply to the muscles increases and causes the muscles to expand. In birds that are near processing size, the minor pectoral muscle (“chicken tender”) is confined to a space between the keel bone and the major pectoral muscle. Without room to expand, the minor pectoral muscle suffers damage when the bird is allowed to flap its wings, blood flow to the muscles increases, and the major pectoral muscle expands and cuts off the blood supply of the minor pectoral muscle. Without a blood supply, the minor pectoral suffers injury.

Prevention

Green muscle disease is only noticeable during the processing of the bird. You can usually prevent green muscle disease from happening by carefully managing the activity of the birds, especially after they are out of the brooder and into their chicken tractors or other space that allows more movement. Avoid any excitement or handling that will cause the birds to frantically flap their wings. Also, controlling the birds’ growth by feeding a 12 hour on-12 hour off schedule may help reduce the chance of them developing this affliction, as well as help to prevent skeletal and heart issues.

Green Muscle

Can We Eat a Bird With Green Muscle Disease?

There is no evidence that Green muscle disease is caused by a pathogen, so technically it would be considered safe to consume a bird with it. However, it may not be aesthetically pleasing to eat green meat. The green discoloration of the meat is similar to a bruise that is trying to heal.

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