chickens dieing


May 17, 2017
My neighbor and I are new to raising chickens. We ordered 50 straight run male birds 3 weeks ago. We have had them in a coop, overall size 12 x12 but with the birds sectioned off to an area 7x12. We made it 4-5 days without loosing one and thought we were in the clear.
Since then we seem to loose one very 3 days. Took another dead one out this evening.
We are just north of concord NH and its been cold the past few weeks. We had 2 heat lamps going with temps in that area averaging 95-100. We are using tractor supply shavings for bedding and adding new every day. We currently are not removing, just adding. The coop is setup with feed, water and lights 24hrs.
From our untrained eyes, the birds look healthy. They've fattened up considerably and move about the coop. At first I thought we lost a couple of the weak ones because during the cold nights the birds would all huddle around the lamps. Those weak ones would get trampled and not survive.
Not sure what we are doing wrong.
Are these Cornish cross meat birds? Do you see any symptoms (lethargy, bloody droppings, etc.), or do the birds just suddenly turn up dead? Meat birds can be a little less hardy than normal-growing birds, but your mortality rate does seem high.

Is the feed you are using medicated or unmedicated? What brand/type of feed is it? I would probably suspect crowding/trampling, or Coccidiosis, which is a protozoan disease that causes lethargy, lack of appetite, bloody droppings (usually), stunted growth, and eventually death. Either that, or your chicks came from a genetically weak source. Where did you order them from?
There could be many reasons youre birds are dying off.

first I need to ask.

How old are your chickens?

anything that still makes a "peep" noise should probably still be in a brooder, indoors nd sheltered.
This would count day olds to about 2 month old chickens. If your birds are in this age range then they are most ikely freezing/overheating depending on your weather scenario, and need to be put inside.

The next thing you need to take into account for is BREED in correlation with age. certain breeds, I.E., meat birds, only live up to about 6-10 months before dying due to their genetic use. Cornish cross and similar meat breeds are meant to die at a young age to be eaten in their prime. If these birds are no butchered during that time, they tend to die off because they were never meant to live long anyway. If you have purchased meat birds and they are in said time line, then you should probably begin butchering f you intended to use them for meat. DO NOT Butcher if thy are not cornish cross and meat was not your intent in the first place, as well as if they are still under 6 months.

Thirdly, ar your birds showing any symptms such as Lethargy, often laying down or wheezing, not eating or drinking, or een agressivness?

If you have all males as you said before, they could be fighting and killing eachother if at the proper age.

are your dea/dying chikens pretty bloddied up or are they clean and just simply died?

the more details you have the easier it is to find the issue and the faster we can olvewhatever the issue is.
They are 3 weeks old today from Moyers. We are targeting a life span of 8 weeks. We are raising for meat. They seem to be eating well. Dumor starter from TSC. I can check my spreadsheet at work but I think we are at 300lbs of feed so far.
Of the last 4, I would say 2 were due to the temps and trampling. One other had a leg that didn't seem to work and was always stretched out. I could pick him up and he would eat and drink but wouldn't stand up. I was lucky enough to put him down just as he pooped. it was clear and didn't look right. We ended up "taking care" of him the next day. The last one tonight was just belly up.
We haven't seen any signs of fighting. We have not seen any obvious signs of injuries.
Your chicks are cold when they huddle/pile up under the heat lamp. This is very likely the cause of the two that died. They were on the bottom of the pile... while it's warm there, it's also hard to breath. I would suggest adding a light so they can spread out... The one with the leg stretched out had what is called "splay leg" it's normally caused by a slick surface when the chick is under a week old. After they are a week or so old, their joints are "set" and they are no longer prone to this... By the way, a chick with this ailment can usually be fixed if you catch it early.... taping the feet together with a bandaid like hand cuffs. Or putting it in a yogurt type cup for a few hrs works well... as for the one that was belly up, Sometimes they just die! I would not feel your losses are way out of line yet...
All the above makes sense, especially the temp issue. Next time im going to put a full cover over the area the birds are in to keep the heat in.
The splay leg is good info that we were not aware of.
My neighbor thinks they died due to a dirty coop. Id have to get pictures of the conditions but i think the coop is very clean. No where near like others i have seen.
Also to add. I am NOT an expert by any means as we are on our first batch... but this is what we learned by readin a LOT before we got them.

But at three weeks we started doin feed 12 hours on and the same off. We did a lot of research and for cornishx this is supposed to leave with the best mortality rate for them so they don't eat themselves to death. We also got the chick booster to add to their water.. it is vitamins and electrolyte.. hubby calls it their chickorade lol. Ours are seven weeks old now and we have only lost two total out of 30. Lost one at a week old then one more was lookin bad at three weeks so he helped that one along its way. Everyone else is huge and doin great. They still do get the chickorade every day in their water. We used non medicated feed because they were vaccinated because we also got girls for layin in the order at the same time.

Good luck with the rest of yours!
I'm not sure if meat birds are prone to this like other fancy breeds but pasty butt could be an issue(I would think losses would be higher though, I've gotten that with almost every shipped bird, usually around the 2-3 week mark. Does sound like they got too cold on some nights. I would agree though that the numbers aren't seeming excessive considering you started with 50.
At 3 weeks old they should still have some form of heat. I live right outside of concord and the nights have been pretty cold lately. My meat birds r 6 weeks old now. They r red rangers so they grow out to about 12 weeks old before butchering. They r off heat now but I do have them in an enclosed coop and they r out ranging during the day. I only have 18 but have not lost any. This is our first time with meatbirds as well. Good luck

New posts New threads Active threads

Top Bottom