Cornish X Rock needs low protein diet, any ideas?

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8 Years
May 12, 2012
Volney, NY
Hello Everyone,
Please help me save my Cornish X Rock rooster. On Easter, our family purchased 6 young hens, and 1 rooster from our local Tractor&Supply market. Unfortunately, the chicks were so young that we were unable to tell what breeds I might have. The chicks were sexed, but not not labeled breed specific.
The hens are well, however, the rooster quickly became listless, with labored breathing. Soonthereafter, he stopped walking, and more or less waddled to his food and water. I went back to the Tractor&Supply store where I purchased them, and found out that the rooster they sold were probably Cornish X Rocks, and they are meat birds, meant to be slaughtered at 8 weeks. Therefore, they are bred to gain weight quickly, so quickly that their legs cannot handle the sudden weight gain to the point that the legs sometimes break. Even if he does live to walk again, he may have a heart attack due to the stress of his excessive body weight. I can't fathom slaugtering him. I'm sorry, I'm weak, he is a pet, these chickens are for eggs and enjoyment only. He is by far the most friendly rooster I've ever had. "Plucky" even closes his eyes and lets me rub his underside. After much attention to this wonderful site, I decided to take the readers advice and build a sling so that his legs can grow the muscle they need to support his weight. I also dillute baby aspirin in his water for pain (maybe it will also help clear his arteries like humans and prevent a heart attack?), and I give him electrolytes and vitamins for energy. I keep a heat lamp on him to keep him comfortable as I hear that weak chicks enjoy that, and I keep the hens separated so that they don't pick on my weak rooster. All these ideas combined have worked WONDERS! He is doing much better, even cackling when I come in to see him, trying to dust bathe himself while sitting in the sling, and eating and drinking much better. He seems to enjoy the sling, and has never once pecked at me for re-situating him in the sling or cleaning around him. Therefore, I think he is comfortable. However, I need help with his diet. I do not want to continue to feed him high proteins that will cause him to gain more muscle weight. Any ideas on low protein foods to keep my "Plucky" on a nice weight management plan so that his legs can bear his weight? I'm game for the extra work to save him.
What you are attempting to do is an admirable thing, but there is an inevitable endpoint. By their very nature these birds do not have a long life span. Limited food consumption plus the addition of scratch to his normal diet will cut down on weight gain, but I seriously doubt that the problem with his legs can be resolved. Others have managed to extend the lifespan of some Cornish X through free ranging and controlled food consumption, but I am afraid that his conditions are irreversible. Good luck.
Sourland is correct.

CXs are not built for the long haul. I have processed many CXs over the years and let me tell you something about these birds- their organs are mush. Their hearts particularly are spongy and over-sized. The first time I saw a CX heart I didn't even think it was a heart because of its very poor condition and lack of tone.

Your bird has already outgrown its legs, and that will not change. These birds can be maintained on a low intake diet only if they can exercise as well. This bird cannot do that. You are not going to be able to save this one. You would be better served to euthanize it.

I am sorry.
Oh, this is all terrible news. =0( I certainly don't have the heart to euthanize him myself, I don't think my husband could either. Guess, I better ask around for someone to help-or just wait for the inevitable. I surely don't want him to suffer though. It almost (almost) makes me want to be a vegetarian.
Please let me know if you gain any useful information. I am in the SAME boat, except I have 2 ): I also can not bear to put mine to sleep. This is just awful.
Please let me know if you gain any useful information. I am in the SAME boat, except I have 2 ): I also can not bear to put mine to sleep. This is just awful.
I sure will, Striderdps. Looking at your profile picture, our roosters legs look very similar. So far, I've left mine in the sling against most recommendations-because I too cannot bear to slaughter him. So, I guess, I'll just wait for the heart attack and keep him comfortable in the mean time. He seems to like the sling though, he calms down as soon as I put him in it. I take him out every 24 hours or so for a break (I imagine his underbelly gets itchy). My original sling (that you see in this post) was made of a heavy duty material. The second sling I made was out of my husbands old white cotton undershirt, and I think he appreciates the softness. =0) They took me about 10 minutes to make for him. Just make sure you make a hole for his rear end-you won't be sorry! ;0) It has been about two weeks with the sling, and I notice he does less 'flopping' over, I think it's helping his legs. I'll let you know what works for me as it comes. Best of luck!
Well today I decided to let Powder loose in his old pen. Just so he could get some air and such. I came out thirty minutes later and he was walking. He was shaky and a little wobbly, but walking. I have only been letting him eat about a hand full of food a day. I am thinking maybe since some of the weight came off he can move around now. Have you tried seeing if your baby could walk at all? I have hope for our little powder puffs!
Hello there Striderdps,

We lost our battle, and Plucky passed away recently. I think we gave him a good life though, he really did seem happy, given the circumstances. He never did walk again, despite my efforts with the sling. Although I think that he liked the sling because when he was taken out of it he would find it again and cuddle with it, and he never fought me when I put him back in. :0) He lived a good 5 months, and died of the inevitable heart attack that we were warned about. Poor guy, he will be missed.
Feed stores that sell these CX chicks perhaps need to do a better job of informing people the nature and purpose of these birds. They are commercial broiler, designed to be processed at the 9 week mark. I am sorry uninformed folks make the mistake of unwittingly buying them for other purposes for which they were never intended. Shame, really.
Sorry to be so cold and hart-less, but Cornish Rocks are not by any means to be considered a bird for a pet. You should have started by doing a little research and picking up a book from the same place that you got your chicks. "The Joy of Keeping Chickens" was sold at your local Tractor Supply where you bought your chicks and that should have been your first purchase months prior to "Chick Days" I you are looking for a breed of chicken that would make a better pet there is a table in the book that provides for all the details about each breed. The book specifically states that the Cornish Rock is a poor layer as for egg production and an excellent meat bird due to their fast maturity rate. If you were looking for hens to keep and lay eggs for you, there are better choices such as the Silver Laced Wyandotte or a Brahma. Both of these breeds are great egg producers and are easy tempered.
As for the feed store doing a better job of explaining what to expect from the chicks, that would have been the responsibility of the buyer as the store has no idea of what you plan on doing with the chickens.
Personally, I have a barnyard mix of Wyandotte's, Brahma's, Orpington's and about 44 Cornish Rocks that I plan on putting on the table and in the freezer when the time comes. If you want a pet, stick with a dog or a cat, and yes we have those too.
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