Last year, I ordered my first batch of Cornish Cross Broilers from Purely Poultry. Over the first two months, I had a much higher failure rate than expected (anticipated 5%, had 18%). I noted that they shipped from Iowa. When I ordered a second batch a few months later, a Missouri hatchery shipped them, and I had a massive, whopping 0% failures. Before ordering my chicks for this year, I discussed my concern with PP and requested to be informed what dates would be the Missouri hatchery. They made the case that "(*&@ happens" and that they cannot tell me when the next shipment will be from Missouri, but to just make an order and see what happens.
Last week Monday (4/4/2016) my Purely Poultry order of 40 Cornish Cross Broiler chicks shipped out from the hatchery in Iowa. I received them Wednesday morning (4/6/2016), all alive and kicking. The chicks were placed in a newly made brooder, with new, fresh waterers and feeders. They had brand new heat sources, and enough room to move away from the heat source if they got too hot. Brand new starter chick feed (unmedicated). The evening of the 7th, I found four dead chicks. No puffy eyes, no prolapsed vent, no blood in the stool, no discharges or any other signs of disease that I could identify. As of this morning, 4/12/2016, I'm up to 12 dead chicks, nearly all of which have shown no direct signs of illness that I can make out. Only one had a bit of stool stuck to its backside, but it wasn't covering the vent.
Now, as a sanity check, I considered that they got some kind of disease, that they were carriers of some disease and they're all dying off. I have 21, 3 week old, home-hatched New Hampshire chicks in a separate, isolated brooder (only air is shared). I also have 11 older (6 weeks) New Hampshire chicks in yet-another brooder. They're all the same design. All same materials. So in terms of environment control, I believe this is very tight. Lastly, in yet another similar brooder, I have my ducklings. The only ones who are seemingly lethargic, and ill, are these CC broilers. Not one of my other chicks nor ducklings are showing any signs of sickness. I'm very strict on the biosecurity in terms of washing, keeping dedicated food storage (no cross contaminating), manure handling (I have a system for very efficiently handling waste, even though it requires more frequent management) that does not cross from one brooder to another (tray system with cleaning/sanitizing sessions which get the trays dry and free of cleaner residues), etc, to the exception of the air (which is well ventilated, but ultimately shared).
I did some digging, and it appears (i.e. is NOT confirmed) that the source of these chicks is Welp Inc. in Iowa. Doing digging on them, most people do alright it seems. So my suspicion that it's a bad breeding stock has taken some damage to its credibility (but I haven't ruled it out).
So I'm at a loss (pardon the pun). Does anyone have suggestions on what to be looking for and/or to do?
It's now at a sick game of "how many will be dead when I get home tonight?" It's somewhat demoralizing.
Edited by FormulaXFD - 4/12/16 at 10:15am