Do Chickens Have Shoulders

Do Chickens Have Shoulders? (Yes, Plus “Oyster” Meat)

Chickens do have shoulders, just not in exactly the same way we do. They’re located where their wings are attached to their bodies, but tucked away under their feathers. If you’re looking for a chicken’s shoulder meat, this is called “oyster” meat, and it’s incredibly tender.

Where Are Chickens’ Shoulders?

If you think of a chicken’s wings as their arms, their shoulders are located where their wings attach to their bodies.

It’s very similar to our bone structure in that respect. Except, their shoulders do not stick out as ours do as they do not have arms. Chickens are also heavily feathered birds, so it can be hard to see their shoulders (and most of their bones for that matter).

They do have a lot of the same bones as us, just obviously in much smaller form and different shapes. For example, just like us, a chickens’ shoulders consist of a scapula (shoulder blade), coracoid, and connects to their humerus.

If you have a chicken, just pick them up and have a gentle feel. You’ll see exactly what I mean. Or, you can use a shop-bought prepped chicken, but that’s not as much fun! 

Oyster Chicken Meat Is Sometimes Called “Shoulder Meat”

A lot of people asking about chicken shoulders are looking for the shoulder meat. The pieces of meat that are located in this area are actually called “oysters”.

Oysters are small round pieces of meat. It’s darker and more tender than other parts of a chicken, most notably breast meat. Most people say it has a “fuller” flavor, and I’d agree.

Interestingly, in French, this meat is called sot-l’y-laisse. Which when translated means “fools leave it there”. Sounds like they know how tasty this part of a chicken is!

Eating this part of the chicken is very popular in Japan and Asia. I’ve seen it offered in restaurants in the U.S., but I’d say it’s more of a delicacy in the western world.

What I will say is that you should try it if you like chicken. It’s delicious and definitely has a flavorsome, juicy, tender texture.

Related – Do chickens have knees or ankles?

Do Chickens Have Arms?

Chickens do not have arms. Neither do they have hands or fingers. They have two legs with toes and claws on. As well as two wings in place of where we’d expect arms to be.

They do have a lot of the same bones as we do in our arms. Chickens have humerus, radius, and metacarpus bones.

But there is no denying that they do not have arms. They have wings, which provide a very different function and are built differently structurally.

The interesting thing about chickens having wings is that they don’t use their wings to fly like other birds.

Their wings are designed for flying, and chickens also have hollow (pneumatic bones) like most birds. But chickens have been selectively bred over many years to be heavier so that we can get more meat from them.

Which has resulted in them no longer being able to fly. Some breeds are more “flightly” than others. But a few seconds in the air and making their way to the safety of their roost or a tree branch is about all they can manage.

The Interesting Thing About the Chicken Skeletal System

Taking a closer look at the skeletal system of a chicken, it’s really quite interesting. They have two types of bones:

Medullary bones – Chickens have a number of medullary bones. These include their shoulder blades, ribs, and legs. The purpose of medullary bones is to store calcium, which is vital for chickens to produce strong eggshells.

Pneumatic bones – Most birds have pneumatic bones. These hollow bones, which include their collar bones, pelvis, and skulls are connected to their air sacs and respiratory systems. 

As you can see, their skeleton is designed to do more than just provide a structure for them to move around.

Chickens’ bones are designed to provide vital nutrients and enable them to fly. Yet, as I explained above, selective breeding put an end to their flying days.

This is also a reason why chicken breast meat is white, as it doesn’t receive a lot of activity. In contrast, their legs, and also their shoulder oysters meat as explained above, are darker as they are used a lot.

In Summary – Do Chickens Have Shoulders?

A chicken’s anatomy and skeleton is very different from ours in some ways, yet very similar in others.

They do have a lot of the same bones as us. Just in different shapes and sizes, and not representing the same structure as us.

Their shoulders are a perfect example of this. Chickens do technically have shoulders, but it’s hard to see it when looking at one.

If you get a chance to try chicken oyster meat, I strongly recommend it.


Image credits – Photo by Monika Kubala on Unsplash

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