Cornish Cross starting to cannibalize when confined

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by Ariel301, Nov 9, 2010.

  1. Ariel301

    Ariel301 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 14, 2009
    Kingman Arizona
    I have some 4 week old Cornish Cross that I let out to free range all day, and then confine in a horse stall at night for safety from predators. While out, they also have access to all the feed and water they want, and water when in the stall at night. Since I started letting them out, they hate being locked in, when I open the door they all bolt out, and they won't go back in at night on their own, I have to find and catch every single one and carry it screaming and kicking back in. The last week or so, I noticed a few of them had scabs on their heads, I thought maybe my big loose rooster had been bothering them, so I penned him back up. There were still some fresh wounds showing up though, and they seemed to be freshest looking in the morning...And today, I opened the stall door to find four dead and ripped to pieces with the others all covered in their blood! They're not big enough to process yet, so I've got to figure out how to stop this for the next 4-6 weeks...

    They only seem to be doing this during the night/early morning when they are confined. They are not overcrowded, there is plenty of space for all of them. Should I just leave them loose all the time? We have a fox that hangs around, she might eat some of them....but if they keep eating each other, what's the difference? I can't cage them all individually.
  2. Bossroo

    Bossroo Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 15, 2008
    I smell a rat !!! Warfarin bait station should do the trick. At 4 weeks of age, they will make a fine Cornish Game hen at 1 1/2-2 lbs.
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2010
  3. KatyTheChickenLady

    KatyTheChickenLady Bird of A Different Feather

    Dec 20, 2008
    Boise, Idaho
    I agree . . . rats usually go for their hind ends, but I think there is probably a reason they are screaming and not wanting to be locked in your stall as most CX don't act like that at all.
  4. Ariel301

    Ariel301 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 14, 2009
    Kingman Arizona
    We've got some rat traps out, haven't caught anything in months. No wounds on my chicks anywhere other than the head/face/neck area, which is why I thought at first the big bully rooster was picking at them if they tried to get in his way. There is no opening in the stall a rat could squeeze through, though...It is a metal building with wood paneling on the inside, solid wood floor with no holes, and the windows are covered with wood lattice and plastic, no holes have been made in that. The door is solid and metal, the roof is metal.

    The birds were actively ripping apart a recently departed (still warm) member of their group when I went to open the door today. Yuck! The Cornish don't like to go to bed in the stall, but some of my hens will go in there if I leave it open, and they want to sleep in there. (I don't let them stay in with the chicks, I'm sure they are not the ones doing this) I interpret their behavior more as liking their freedom too much than fear of that area.

    These aren't a good size to eat yet. They are growing slowly since they are free-range, they hardly eat any bagged feed given the choice of that or foraging. They're between 1/2-1 pound live right now. Not much of a meal, especially when this is going to be our chicken supply for the next year, the nearest place we could buy store chicken is 2 hours away and $10 a pound, so we raise our own now. We're down to about 40 out of 75, they kept trampling each other to death for the first week, and now they keep getting these wounds and they're dying again. [​IMG] They've sure been a lot of trouble.
  5. SteveH

    SteveH Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 10, 2009
    West/Central IL
    Its not a good scenario to have cannibalism get started in a flock . How crowded is the stall ? If the birds are in during daylight hours , do they have plenty of feed and feeder space ? How late in the morning are they being tuned loose ?

    I would seperate those with wounds if possible , as the red patches invite attack . If seperation isn't feasible , I would cover the wounds with Blukote . They should be well fed and watered before being put up for the night . I would make sure the stall is totally without any light from both outside or artificial sources while their confined to put them in roost mode [ and they're going to resist leaving daylight to enter a dark stall so it will have to be lit untill after they're inside ] ; then limit the length of their confinement to as short of time as possible . I hope that helps .

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