Dead and more coming!

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by shelby528, Nov 6, 2009.

  1. shelby528

    shelby528 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 5, 2009
    I currently have approx 50 one month old leghorns and meat birds (lost count after so many deaths; I've had about 30 die). For roughly two weeks now, I have been finding dead chickens when i go to feed them in the morning. My coop is big enough for all of my birds and I have my older birds seperated from my younger birds. Both leghorns and meat birds are dying. The meat birds have their butts chewed right out of them and holes all over there bodies. At first they started picking out their tail feathers and I would seperate the injured ones but now they are making huge holes in eachother and I can NOT figure out why. Can anyone help me?!?!?

    They are being fed medicated baby food
    There kept warm
    They have plenty of water
    and plenty of space.
  2. silkiechicken

    silkiechicken Staff PhD Premium Member

    Having their bottoms chewed out says rats are getting the babies to me. Often birds are oblivious of rodents as chicks, and can eat them on the spot! Or eat toes off of birds that are in wire floor pens. I would also check to make sure they are getting enough protein. Furthermore, often meat birds and leghorns don't mix the best due to their activity level.
  3. shelby528

    shelby528 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 5, 2009
    See I thought the same thing but I noticed some of my other birds have blood on their heads and backs and I've seen them peck at eachothers bums. I am completely stumped and frustrated!
  4. ruth

    ruth Life is a Journey

    Jul 8, 2007
    Woodville, MS
    It's cannibalism - they are eating one another alive and it will be very difficult to get them to stop. Chickens are omnivores, meaning also meat eaters. Now that they have tasted fresh meat and blood they will want more.

    How large is the coop and run and how many birds started out in there? It looks like you might have had around 80 and are now down to 50. Unless the run is really large and there is plenty for them to dig in and forage for - you will probably have to supplement with something. Either some time out freeranging or toss sunflower seeds, cat food and feed on the ground and cover with leaves or straw - something for them to do. It's my opinion that cannibalism is from boredom, overcrowding and/or protein deficiency. Take a look at all three possibilities and see what changes you can make.

    Freeranging produces the best results once cannibalism has started. They are so busy running around and digging into and eating everything, they forget about eating one another and by the time they return to the coop at night, they are tired.
  5. mypicklebird

    mypicklebird Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 8, 2008
    Sonoma Co, CA
    I see two possibilities here 1) something is killing them 2) they are killing each other.
    1) Predators: Can anything get to them? If rats or anything smallish (larger predators would likely take the chicks away and/or kill more than just a few) can get to them- you need to predator proof your set up. Cover/close holes ect. Going out in the middle of the night and turn on a flashlight may also tell you what is sneaking in. Rat sign (poops, foot prints in the dust ect) can often be found if you look, if that is the problem. 4 weeks old is pretty young for cannibalism, which is the other possibility.

    2) Cannibalism: usually when there is overcrowding, boredom, or inappropriate diet (usually protein deficiency). Or a combination of them. 4 weeks old is young for cannibalism, but is not out of the question. The meat birds grow very fast, and have a high protein need. Standard medicated chick start is probably not sufficient for them. I would get them (the meaties) some broiler food. You will need to feed and keep the leghorns separate from the meaties. Are there lights on 24/7 in their brooder? If the lights are out at night, they should be sleeping- and not likely to eat each other. Space and boredom- how big is the area for 50 birds? You can tell if they are eating each other by watching them for a few hours. Keeping in mind that meat birds will often die on their own because of their growth rate can outpace their heart's ability, and a bunch of birds tramping around will smash a fallen comrade and peck at it. You should not see chicks pecking out each other's vents. If you see anyone actually doing this, remove/cull the perps- it is hard to untrain them once they start, and it is a *really* bad habit to have- and they can teach each other this bad habit.

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