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Dropped dead -- should we worry?

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by bhadrika, Aug 22, 2008.

  1. bhadrika

    bhadrika In the Brooder

    Mar 15, 2007
    Mansfield, MA
    We have a mixed flock -- 6 year-old hens, ten cornish rock crosses, and about 10 other fancy chicks, all around 8wks old. The Crosses are for meat, and we were planning to have our Sweeney Todd Party this weekend. Last night, we found one of them dead. Slight abrasion on the tip of one wing, head at a funny angle, so we figured it had tried to hop over the 4" lip of the fence, and being a big, fat, clumsy Cross, it tripped and broke its neck. But then this morning, I found another one dead in the middle of the pen, no marks on it. While huge, these two were not the largest birds we have.

    So, the questions:
    Is it just that at 8weeks, they're ready to start keeling over?
    Or is it possibly an infection?

    If it's the first, then we should hurry and butcher them as planned, but if its the second, we'd worry about the safety of the meat in the others.

    We called the state to get the flock tested and banded, since we need that for the others -- would a problem show up in that test? But the tester isn't coming till next week. And if we ask them specifically about a flock with chickens dying in it, what are the odds they'll say we have to cull the whole flock to be safe? What are the odds they're right? There's a few of the fancy chicks that will be meat later (eg, those without the sense to be female), but the rest we have for eggs and for themselves. They've got names, and children who will cry if someone makes us kill them.

    Any answers/advice? Also, anyone near SE Massachusetts who wants to come to teh Sweeney Todd Party? If you haven't slaughtered and wanted to try it out, let us know (assuming we get reassurance to proceed).
  2. bills

    bills Songster

    Jan 4, 2008
    vancouver island
    You sure a predator isn't going the damage? Perhaps a cat or something..

    If you see no sign, or if the area is completely predator proof, I would think 8 weeks will still give you a nice size eating bird. Off with their heads! [​IMG]
  3. blue90292

    blue90292 Songster

    Jan 30, 2007
    Rosharon, TX
    are your feeders always full? sometimes when a flock is all together, the cornish don't get enough food. even though they may not get skinny, they can die from not getting enough food.

    how do their combs look? is it red or starting to look pale? if it's pale, they're not getting enough blood flow and it's probably time they get processed before the rest die.

    if your coop is totally predator proof, i would either process them to cut my losses or i would give them some vitamin in there water and hope they do better and take the chance. 8 weeks should still give you about 4-5 pound birds.
  4. dancingbear

    dancingbear Songster

    Aug 2, 2008
    South Central KY
    It's a fairly common occurrence with the X's. They get too much fat around the heart, it gets squeezed, and they die.

    I'd go ahead and process them. Then, if you're concerned about any possibility of contagion, just keep the X's in the freezer until your other birds have been tested and declared ok. If there's anything contagious going on, your others will show something before too much longer.

    Then, if everybody's ok, you haven't lost your meat birds, and haven't raised alarms for no reason.

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