Cornish Cross, tons of problems, now dying for unknown reason

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by Ariel301, Nov 15, 2010.

  1. Ariel301

    Ariel301 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 14, 2009
    Kingman Arizona
    I am having problem after problem with these stupid broilers. I am absolutely never buying them again! First they were trampling each other to death, then they were picking at each other to death and eating each other, now they are dying for no apparent reason. I'm losing an average of a bird a day. At this rate, there will be none left by butcher time. They are 6 weeks old. I intended to slow them down some by allowing them to run around outside and strengthen their legs and hearts that way, but they are REALLY small...1/2 a pound at most now, really not any bigger than some of my regular chickens would be at that age. I fill their feeders with Purina Flock Raiser (20% protein, no one here is selling broiler feeds or chick starter) which they are allowed to eat as much of as they like. They don't eat a lot of it, they seem to do a good job eating off the land, they always go in at night with full crops. They also have free access to brewery spent grains, which they love, they eat a lot of it. (25% protein)

    I went through a week or so where there were no problems, and I thought things were going to be better. And now they are dying again. I will find one hunched up with its wings limp and its feathers fluffed, usually standing next to food or water but not partaking of either. It feels cool/cold to the touch, so I will get it under a heat lamp right away. It will slowly become more limp and unresponsive, then stretch its legs out straight, throw its head back, and die suddenly. The whole ordeal takes just a few hours. I've seen them die from heart problems, and this is different from that. The symptomatic ones also seem sort of wasted away and skinny, (when just a few hours before, that same bird was fat and running around at full speed) and have empty crops. I use an eyedropper to give them some warm water and honey since they have no interest in either food or water (certainly not normal for these birds!) but it doesn't seem to help, they just let it run out of their mouths without swallowing, or if they do swallow it, they still go downhill and die anyway.

    The only thing unusual that has happened lately is that a couple of times in the last two weeks, the whole flock, Cornish as well as layers, have gotten into a pan of livestock salt (salt only, no minerals) in the goat pen and eaten some of it. I don't know why they suddenly did that, it's been there a long time and they always leave it alone, then suddenly they started eating it. Could this be the problem? If so, is there anything I can do, or will they all just die from it? I have gotten the salt out of their reach, so it won't be a problem in the future.
  2. CMV

    CMV Flock Mistress

    Apr 15, 2009
    You might have better luck posting over in the meat birds section. The folks over there are so knowledgeable that it's almost scary. They can answer any questions you may have about CXs. I only started with CXs this year (and haven't had any real issues except for 5 days of 95 degree weather that killed off a third of my flock).

    Sorry I couldn't be any help. Sorry for your losses. Good luck.
  3. Lorije1

    Lorije1 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 13, 2010
    At 6 weeks you are at a point where they are going to start dying off from just genetic health problems. Some folks have older ones, but that is not the norm. you can try putting unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar in their water. Make sure they do not have access to food 24/7 (12hrs on / 12hrs off).
    Do you see any blood in their poo that could indicate coccidia?
  4. chicks4kids

    chicks4kids Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 22, 2009
    Northern Indiana
    This is gonna sound wierd and I don't mean it to be but are you SURE that they are cornish x? 6 weeks at a half of a pound almost seems impossible for these birds-even with the problems you are seeming to have. I am absolutely stumped by your problem... How many did you start with and how many do you have left? Can you post a pic of these birds? That may help give us a better idea as to what is going on.
  5. CMV

    CMV Flock Mistress

    Apr 15, 2009
    Quote:I, too, am floored by the radically underweight meaties. At 6 weeks my CXs were about 6+ lbs a piece. There is definitely something awry with these birds. That's why I recommended going to the meat birds section. Half a pound? Really?!?! That's not right...
  6. MMPoultryFarms

    MMPoultryFarms Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 21, 2010
    Okarche Oklahoma
    Perhaps I can be of assistance. I willfirst askif there is any way to get a pic of your setup. Broilers aren't the easiest birds to raise. I am sure lots of others will agree there is almost a fine art to raising them. and even then sometimes things still go wrong. Brioilers should be fed for the first 2 weeks of there lifes 24 hours a day and offered all they can eat. After that CxR require a 12 on 12 off diet. Meaning put feed down for them in the morning and pull it at night.
    Also You said you are free ranging them. you need to reduce the amount of range they have until there a little older if you want to strenghten there legs then Place there water 2-3 feet from there feeders so that they have to walk back and forth to do both chores. When you chose to free range a meatie its best to start them with a small tractor. also you need to place all feed and water away from there source of heat. this is where trampling comes in. to much or not enough heat will drive them away from the heat forcing them to pile. or draw them into the heat forcing them to pile. happy CxR will lay comfortably aprox 1 inch apart if your heat is right for them.
    These birds require some sort of meat supplement typically what leads to cannabalism is lack of animal protien. also Bordum can cause this same situation try buying a cabbage hanger from somewhere there like 7 dollars + shipping on E-bay this give them other things to pick on besides feathers. As soon as they pick feathers and cause bleeding all of them will join in for the feast. this is why animal products are important.
    Another thing is conjestive heart failures. Also very important to not allow your young birds to cover alot of space till there older and healthier. You said your bird was cold to the touch. that is definatly a lack of heat somewhere. I like to place 2 heat lamps on each end of my CxR pen to assure all chicks get adaquate heat.
    As for your weight issue's you are definatly letting them range to much sounds like. there walking off all the protien and carbs there getting. at 2 weeks old your cornish should almost be 2 lbs 1 pound a week meat to feed conversion. As seen in these pics of my 2 week old broilers. [​IMG][​IMG]

    Feel free to PM me for anymore information you might need.
  7. Ariel301

    Ariel301 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 14, 2009
    Kingman Arizona
    I'm still losing them, about one a day still. I started with 75, now I'm down to somewhere in the 20s. I found one with the same symptoms this morning, it moved off by itself away from where the others usually sleep, and it is cold, stiff, and barely alive. Head thrown back and twisted around (no broken neck), legs and wings extended out stiff in this really dramatic pose that it can't seem to relax out of. They will be cold to the touch at the end even if they are sitting directly under a heat lamp, it is not a lack of external warmth, it is 90 degrees in there and in the 60s outside.

    I think the trampling in the beginning was from sheer stupidity of these birds. They had 4-6 heat lamps in their stall, all identical, plenty of room for them all, and they would only crowd under one. They are like a mob with one brain, they won't split up into groups. So, to get 75 birds under one lamp, they would pile up four or five deep, and the bottom layer would die. I finally ended up having to split them into groups in cardboard boxes with lights over them for sleeping. They eventually were able to go back together...because there were so few of them left they could fit under one light.

    They have a coop in a horse stall with heat lamps. The lamps are spread around so they don't have to crowd together, it is nice and toasty under them. At first they were confined to this area, for the first couple week, then allowed out in a small tractor on warm days, until the last two weeks, where they have been allowed to roam around the yard. I can't really stop them from doing so anymore, as soon as I open the door to their coop, they all bolt out and it takes a long time to catch them. They have food and water in there (not under the lamps, on the other side of the 10X10 stall, and also food and water bowls scattered around the yard. I started them with food all the time, then went to the 12-12 schedule. I had to go back to leaving them food at night, because if the lights are on and there is not food, they start eating each other. I give them vegetables and fruits to play with and eat, not just the feed. They also get some organic beef scraps--but when they started getting these is when they started killing each other, like they got a taste for blood and wanted more.

    A friend of mine has some birds from the same batch, we bought them together, hers are being raised in a tractor, and hers are small also. She is also losing them, she has lost about half of her 50 birds, I don't know if they are dying in the same manner or not. She is feeding a very expensive organic grower feed that she orders in. They are definitely Cornish Cross, they have the wide bodies, huge breasts, and dinosaur legs. They just don't seem to be growing, even though they are eating enormous amounts of food.

    I was hoping to keep a few pullets out of these to experiment with breeding, but at this rate, there won't be any left in a couple of weeks. And if they are this sick and this much trouble, I sure don't want any of them again!

    Since two groups of the same birds in different setups are both not growing well, I wonder if it is something wrong with the birds themselves?
  8. CMV

    CMV Flock Mistress

    Apr 15, 2009
    I'd contact the hatchery/breeder you got them from, and let them know. So sorry for your losses. It's frustrating, I know. I lost 1/3 of my meat flock this summer when we got an unexpected and long heat wave. So much time and money wasted.
  9. Hillsvale

    Hillsvale Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 20, 2009
    Hillsvale, Nova Scotia
    Quote:Most of my CX were 11 to 12 weeks before we started the butcher process (mine were free range even for their feed which we scattered around) the last batch of 20 were in the 14 week range. We had no health issues... these buggers could out run me still! Most people I know grow theirs out to about 10 weeks... mine probably didn't gain a whole lot from 10 - 14 weeks, maybe a pound or so but certainly they were extremely healthy.

    OP, I agree you should contact the supplier... thats not normal. The meaties seem to take a bit (or in my experience) to grow initially then one day you open their hut and these big fatties waddle out....
  10. kelar

    kelar Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 22, 2010
    Since these birds are not on a medicated feed, is it possible they are suffering from cocci? I've seen chicks as young as three weeks show quite severe symptoms of infection - it could certainly contribute to their failure to grow on schedule and you would not necessarily see any signs.

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