I have a question for my fellow Okies. I've mentioned that I received 8 meat birds with my order from Murray McMurray. I've noticed about a week ago that they were acting like they were too heavy for their frames. They lay on their sides take a few steps and lay right down again while the other forage normally. At first I thought they were just sunning themselves but if you watch them it looks like they would just rather lay down than stand. I don't have a problem with meat birds and had already decided to process them once the get to the right size. My issue is that I've lost one yesterday and one today. I don't see any signs of trauma and it looks like they died in their sleep, one even appears to have fallen off the roost. None of the other chicks show any sign of illness, I checked everyone out after I found the first one yesterday. The only theories I can come up with is that they had something congenital or it is weight related. From the hatchery site they should take 12 weeks to reach processing age and mine are 6 weeks. I'll admit I've never raised a batch of meat birds just to process but I can't imagine that there is anything different from the standard chicks. I'm debating just culling the remaining 6 as for all intents and purposes they act just like the two that died. If they aren't going to live to processing age they are just taking up space and eating feed. Is it unusuall to lose meat birds like this or am I missing something that I should be doing?
I have 48 in a big brooder right now. Take up the feed at night. Make sure they drink lots of water. Around the fifth week you'll see difficulty walking if you've overfed then. Cornish Cross often develop ascites (fluid around heart and inside body cavity - congestive heart failure. You'll see sluggish behavior and purple combs when they start to feel awful.) I usually butcher at six or seven weeks, and I don't feed mine around the clock. I feed 20% chick starter for the first four or five weeks. For week six and seven, I feed 18% grower pellets.
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