I could use some help in figuring out what I'm doing wrong. We are loosing one or two birds a day out of our batch of 50 cx's.
This is our 3rd year doing this and I have never had this trouble.
All the chickens look healthy, they seem to be eating drinking and moving about normal for cx's. But when i check on them about one a day is belly up, literally. The only other thing i see is a slight trickle of blood at the vent. These birds are 71/2 weeks and are scheduled to go to the farmers market next Saturday, so slaughter is supposed to be next Friday. Also, I am starting to loose a couple from my follow up batch that is 2 weeks younger.
The weather here was very hot last week, at least for Buffalo NY. It was 2 or 3 days near 90 and very humid. I spoke with our hatchery at the time and she said it sounded like heart attacks from the heat. But is has cooled off for several days and the problem persists. So i dont think it is just the heat, maybe the swing in temps?
My theory is that I am over feeding. Can anyone tell me what it looks like when cx's eat themselves to death? I have a friend who split this batch with me. He took 12 and i kept 50. He has not lost any birds like this and I am close to 15 that i have lost this way. He gets his food from me, so we are feeding the exact same ration/grain. When i spoke with him the other day he said that he thought his birds were looking small and that he would not be ready to slaughter next week. My birds on the other hand are huge! They look much bigger to me then my batches in the past.
I have about 30 birds left. I don't know how many pounds i food I give them but it would be the equivalent of 2 1/2 to 3 gallons. But now the big birds are not even finishing their food each day. I am feeding them a 22% ration from a local feed mill. It is the same ration I used in the past with no trouble.
Other possibilities, I don't think these things have anything to do with it but i am just trying to come up with something:
- Our well water here is very hard, any chance that is hurting them?
- This pasture is not very robust, could they be eating something out there that is doing it?
- I give them grit as baby chicks and never gave them new grit on pasture. Do they need some new grit?