7 week-old broilers w/ lots of broken/misisng feathers

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by pasturedpastor, May 17, 2011.

  1. pasturedpastor

    pasturedpastor New Egg

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    Apr 20, 2011
    I originally posted this in the disease section a week ago and didn't get any replies until today, when someone suggested I post it here, too. THe birds are now almost 7 weeks old.

    Original post:
    I'm new to the world of chickens, so any help is tremendously appreciated.

    I have a batch of cornish cross broilers, about 6 weeks old, with lots of ugly looking broken and missing feathers. It started in the brooder, as the chicks grew (quickly), they spent most of the lying time on their bellies. Their bellies began to look dirty and matted and started looking like they were losing the fuzz there, which wasn't really being replaces by feathers. Using hardwood shavings, I began giving them more frequent and deeper fresh bedding. No change. But never having raised chicks, I thought maybe it was normal.

    When they moved outside into the tractor, the problem didn't improve. Now it looks considerably worse. Their bellies are covered with broken feathers. All around their vents and under their wings, it looks the same: missing and broken feathers.

    I can't see any mites on the birds. They scratch and pick at themselves, but don't seem to peck at one another (at least, not while I'm looking). I have one runt who got injured from moving the tractor, and he never really recovered. A few days ago, I found one of the birds dead and belly-up. At first, I suspected waterbelly, so I cut him open and he had some (1/4 cup?) yellowish fluid in his belly.

    Here are some pictures from today.
    Er, new members can't post pictures. I can email them to you or maybe post them elsewhere...

    Thanks in advance for your help.

    -Jeff

    Next:
    Any help?

    An update: the guy from the hatchery says they look like normal 6-week-old broilers.

    I'll try to get a picture of their bald bellies...

    Today:
    I lost 2 more chickens overnight. The local vet said they don't really deal with birds, but would do a skin scrape if trying some Eprinex didn't solve the problem.

    Will mites kill a bird? Is it buffalo gnat season already? I can't figure out what's getting these birds. The weather's been back and forth: hot and cold, wet and dry, with not much moderation between extremes.

    Here's a pic of a belly (on a dead bird).

    Finally, pictures:
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    Thanks in advance for the help. Sorry I'm such a noob...

    -Jeff​
     
  2. bigredfeather

    bigredfeather Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Looks completely normal to me. I guess after having enough of them around, you just get used to it and don't think anything of it. CX aren't the best looking breed, but they sure are tasty.
     
  3. bigredfeather

    bigredfeather Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Yorkshire, Ohio
    If you have another one die, make a little slit between the vent and the bottom of the breast. If some yellow liquid comes out, it has died of congestive heart failure.

    ETA: Oops, didn't notice you already did this.
     
    Last edited: May 17, 2011
  4. PotterWatch

    PotterWatch My Patronus is a Chicken

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    Virginia
    They look normal to me as well. It sounds like the one died of flip. They are commonly found flipped onto their backs like that, hence the name. It sometimes happens with broilers. It is sudden death caused by the rapid growth of the bird and the heart and lungs simply not being able to keep up with it.
     
  5. pasturedpastor

    pasturedpastor New Egg

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    Apr 20, 2011
    Great. Thanks for the help.

    Is there a way to avoid congestive heart failure (which is the same as waterbelly, correct?)? Is that what causes "flip" too? I only need these birds to live 10 more days.

    If there are other birds suffering from waterbelly, (assuming they live til the 27th) will the fluid build up affect the meat?

    -Jeff
     
  6. Barred Babies

    Barred Babies Red Roof Farms

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    The pics look normal to me too!! Their just getting to big. I had one die on me 4 days before processing!! It's sad to say but it comes with raising Cornish crosses!! Good Luck with your processing!!

    Oh and watch the comb & wattle, if it starts turning purple they won't last much longer!! At least that's what I've found to be true!!
     
  7. PotterWatch

    PotterWatch My Patronus is a Chicken

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    Restricting feed to keep them from growing too quickly is the most common way to avoid flip. That can be done in different ways. Some people know how much food their birds should get each day and measure out the food every morning. Some remove feeders every evening and put them back in the morning. Some control how many hours of light the birds get since when it is dark they sleep more and eat less.

    I personally don't use chickens that have ascites (waterbelly), just in case the cause is something infectious rather than heart failure but others may still keep it, I don't know.

    At this point, if you are losing more birds, it may be better to process early than try to keep them going. How many did you start with and how many have you lost?
     
    Last edited: May 17, 2011
  8. hipeatall

    hipeatall Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 2, 2009
    I agree, those do look like normal broilers.
    Recently, I had a really great experience with slow grow hybrid broilers (aka freedom or rainbow rangers). I am just mentioning this in case you might be interested in trying a different breed in the future. The birds we raised and processed were happy and healthy from beginning to end... making the experience something I can look forward to doing again.
     
  9. pasturedpastor

    pasturedpastor New Egg

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    Apr 20, 2011
    I started with 26.

    1 died a couple days old (I only paid for 25 anyway).
    1 broke a leg under the pen and is much smaller than the others.
    2 died last week
    2 died this week

    Time to slaughter?
     
  10. Dogfish

    Dogfish Rube Goldberg incarnate

    Mar 17, 2010
    Western Washington
    Perfectly normal fathering. Freaks you out the first time you grow them.

    As far as nursing the birds along the final 10 days, take food away from them for at least 12 hours per day if you haven't done so already. That may slow down some of your heart failure issues.

    Check your birds for the following signs:

    -panting or heavy breathing.
    -listless. Poke them with a stick (not sharp and pointy and not to hurt them) If they are not actively moving away from you, they are listless.
    -laying there with their eyes closed, breathing, sometimes opening their eyes.
    -dark purplish/bluish comb, not pink or bright red.
    -feet not bright yellow.
    -usually a smaller bird

    If you have birds that exhibit these signs, especially if they are listless and and lie there with their eyes closed, AND they have dark purplish/bluish comb, cull them at that time or be prepared to throw them away after they die on you overnight.

    I have culled 7 birds like this in the past few days, even with a 12/12 feeding schedule. Bought 20+ half price birds at the feed store to raise with my Welp birds. Haven't lost a Welp bird, but I have culled 7 of the feed store birds. They eat just fine.

    Culling is a part of raising CX at times. Make a drill mounted plucker. (4" PVC cap, 6"x3/8" carriage bolt, two 3/8" nuts, and a set of 36" rubber bungies.) It will cost you under $10 to do it, and an hour's time. Kill/bleed bird, heat water to 150 degrees, scald for 60 seconds, pluck with drill plucker, or by hand, gut, rinse, rest bird for 1-2 days. Cook for dinner a few nights later, or cut up for fried chicken at a later date.

    Culling a bird ealry and eating it isn't failure. Throwing a dead bird away that you should have culled is a waste.
     
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