Approaching 50% loss, what am I doing wrong?

misterwaterfallin

In the Brooder
Mar 1, 2020
11
4
13
PNW
Harvest day in this Saturday, and thank god because over the past 2 weeks the birds have been dropping like flies. This is my first time doing meat birds after having raised layers for a long time, so I expected some growing pains but this is getting frustrating at this point.
Here are the basics:
36 cornish cross arrived 9/9. All arrived alive
In a 3x5 brooder for first two weeks. Food/water 24-7.
At week three they were moved outside with a heat lamp at night in the tractor. Tractor moved daily for weeks 2-6, twice a day sense.
1 died on the first night, one more died at the 3rd week mark. Sense then 10 more have died, mostly with the purple/bloated heart failure signs.

Feed wise I started them on an organic soy free starter for the first 3 weeks. They weren't' gaining well and it was recommended to change to a feed with soy, so they are now on a 18% organic grower from the local co-op that many have had success with. Aiming for a 12 on 12 off feeding schedule.

Is anything sticking out that is obviously wrong? We did get some colder temps and one freezing night but oddly enough after that freezing night none were found dead.
 

Tre3hugger

Crowing
Mar 21, 2020
1,911
5,926
306
NW Massachusetts
I would try adding a vitamin supplement to your water from the beginning on your next run. I use McMurray's broiler booster. I give it 5 times a week as long as they're in the brooder. Then less as they grow.
Also may be worth a try limiting feed to 30 minutes twice a day instead of 12/12. Otherwise your husbandry seems sound to me. If they're having heart attacks the vitamins and a more controlled feeding schedule would probably help.
 

RUNuts

Smiling. I'm up to something.
May 19, 2017
5,413
38,108
937
State of Confusion
Are you feeding 24/7 still? For CX, recommendations are limiting feed. How much protein in your feed?

I also started losing birds at 5 weeks feeding high protein. The subsequent batches I used a starter feed at 18-20% protein and improved my survival rate.

For the purple combs, that means heart failure so overfeeding may be an issue or it could be genetics. Which hatchery supplied the birds?

Pictures of your setup may answer questions also. Plenty of room? No overcrowding?
 

misterwaterfallin

In the Brooder
Mar 1, 2020
11
4
13
PNW
Thank you for the help! I got them from The Chick Hatchery which were great to work with and did everything as expected.
They are currently on a 12/12 feeding schedule so I will limit that in the future. They are in a 6x10 chicken tractor that like I said gets moved twice a day at this point.
 

RUNuts

Smiling. I'm up to something.
May 19, 2017
5,413
38,108
937
State of Confusion
Thank you for the help! I got them from The Chick Hatchery which were great to work with and did everything as expected.
They are currently on a 12/12 feeding schedule so I will limit that in the future. They are in a 6x10 chicken tractor that like I said gets moved twice a day at this point.
I'm using chicken tractors also and do not like how the chickens behave. This year, I put 50 in a 5.5'x5.5' for a week and then separated them into 2 tractors. Even at 1 foot per bird and moving twice a day, the grass was covered in poo. At 3-4 weeks old, I opened the tractors into a fenced area with the layers. The broilers ran around and acted like really hungry layers. At night, they'd go back to the tractors. Mostly, and I'd round up the stragglers to lock them in. These were Moyer's Imperial Broilers this year. I did the same thing with CX from Windy Meadows the year before.

The CX get bigger but will run with the layers given the chance after proper integration. I think I lost 2 out of 15 before opening the tractors a couple years ago due to blue combs. 50 meat birds is a lot of plucking!

I put the water in one spot and spread the food out away from the water. The little fat white blobs would charge me in the evenings for the evening feed. They'd fill up and head for the tractors at dark. I'd feed the CX all they could eat in 20-30 minutes in the mornings and then again in the evenings. They had grass and bugs and frogs the rest of the day.
 

Folly's place

Enabler
Sep 13, 2011
21,864
34,165
1,036
southern Michigan
I also think that more space, especially free range space, does help. Maybe cut the time feed is available too.
Have you had hot weather? That's a big issue with these birds.
Also, check about your feed; is it fresh by mill dates? Has the feed actually been assayed?
Have you talked to the hatchery folks? Maybe there is a genetic issue with this batch, and if the hatchery doesn't get any feed back, how would they know? Ask for an actual expert at the hatchery, not only a phone answerer.
Personally i hate having those pathetic Cornishx birds, and prefer the freedom Rangers, as birds who can actually behave like chickens. They do cost more to raise; nothing is as economical as Cornishx birds (if they live to slaughter!).
Mary
 

Timmy59

In the Brooder
Jul 26, 2020
17
21
23
NO expert, but will add our experience.. 4th season for us and this season was our biggest loss due to heat as the flu postponed our order.. We are firm believers of adding apple cider vinegar with mother to the water 1oz to a gallon.. We lost 0 until they got close to butcher, we butchered at 50 days with an average of 4 1/2 pounds.. We started with 76 and finished with 64, loss of 12.. I start on 20% Dumor starter from TSC and at 1 month or abouts I switch to a 16%.. I saw nothing wrong in the OP so my only asset to the thread would be the apple cider w/ mother..
 

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