HELP! Lame chickens!

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by SomeCallMeJim, May 26, 2007.

  1. SomeCallMeJim

    SomeCallMeJim Hatching

    May 26, 2007
    Man, I hope I didn't sound to panicky in my title there! LOL

    Anyway, I'm a first time chicker owner ("Chickeneer"? LOL) And I have a problem.

    We bought 30 broilers about 6 weeks ago, and up until this last week, they've all been happy and seemingly healthy.

    However, a couple days ago, I noticed that one of them seemed to lack any motivation. It was sitting in the mud, out in the rain, while the rest of the chickens were inside.

    I took that chicken out of the rest of the pack, and I put her in her own little box with bedding, food, water, and a mirror to keep her company. Anyway, over the last two days, two more chicks have developed this condition, and there's one I'm keeping my eye on (It still moves around with the others, but when it finds food/grit/whatever to pick at, it plops down).

    So, what's going on? Is it an illness? Genetic problem? I've got the three bad ones together for now. They seem to be eating and drinking, but I had to literally plop them in front of the waterer and pour food between them and the waterer so they could get to it without moving. I put antibiotics in the water to give them an extra boost, and I added it to the water for the healthy chickens and our 3 week old layers, just to be safe.

    Am I doing something wrong here? Maybe I'm not feeding them enough, or maybe I'm feeding too much? Here's what we're dealing with: We have 29 broilers (the dog got one when we first got them). They're about 6-7 weeks old. They have fresh water on a daily basis, and I feed them probably about a full gallon pitcher of grain a day. Additionally, they have some area for grazing as well. I'll admit to not always remembering to put grit in with their food, but more often than not I make sure to do this, plus, the ground cover out in their pen has some loose gravel as well.

    okay, enough from me. Your turn. Ideas? Thanks so much in advance!
  2. DuckLady

    DuckLady Administrator

    Jan 11, 2007
    NE Washington State
    If they are broilers, then it is close to the time when they need to be processed. They might be slowing down due to weight and age. 6 to 8 weeks is the age to process them, so it might be time to do so.
  3. silkiechicken

    silkiechicken Staff PhD

    Hmm, 6-7 weeks, broilers.. that sounds about right for them. I'd pull the antibiotics as that can cause more problems later down the line. Their nature is to sit, eat, poop, and eat some more. They are just heavy and their legs are starting to give out.
  4. SomeCallMeJim

    SomeCallMeJim Hatching

    May 26, 2007
    Hi guys, and thanks for the responses thus far.

    I considered the notion that this was just a "coming of age" issue, but honestly, I don't think that's the case. The first chicken to have this "condition" isn't nearly as large as many of the other chickens that are still running around, flapping wings, and "living it up" so to speak.

    Also, the first chicken that this started with now appears to have something physically crippling her, as she doesn't sit correctly, with her feet under her body. Instead, they're sort of sprawled out to her right, and without her wing propping her up, she'd very likely be laying flat on her left side.

    The other thing is that I went out and checked on them a few minutes ago, and the fist one to get this condition has even crapped on her left leg, which was, as I mentioned, not neatly under her body but sprawled under her haphazardly. I know chickens aren't the cleanest, but that just seems abnormal.

    Again, I considered that maybe this was a coming of age issue, but like I said, I have bigger (and smaller) chickens than this one which seem to be doing just fine. When my wife's grandma (Farm girl extrordinaire) came into town to visit last Wednesday, she thought the chicks still had a couple weeks before they should be processed, so by her calculations we still have about 10 days before the "big drive" to the meat plant.

    I really do appreciate your advice, and I'll consider pulling the anti-B's out of the water. But I can't shake the feeling that something is physically wrong with these chickens. Thanks again
  5. Hotwings

    Hotwings Songster

    Jan 27, 2007
    southwestern Michigan
    Unfortunately this is the downside of meat chickens. Todays society has a great demand for chicken so man has bred a chicken that grows at the phoenomial size and at 6 or 8 weeks they go to market. Many people such as yourself are very distressed to see this. What you are wittnessing is the equivalent of a 2 year old that would weigh over 300 lbs. Their rapid weight gain cannot support themselves and many die of heart failure. You can try maybe restricting their diet or maybe free ranging to get some excersise. You may want to consider a dual purpose bird for a meat source but they will take longer to get to market size.
  6. Motherhenandflock

    Motherhenandflock Songster

    May 17, 2007
    Southeast Idaho
    Are you taking their food away for about 12 hours at night? Like others have said, they grow so fast they can't hold themselves up and can't get around. Really 8 weeks is the maximum to keep them. They are ready to go to your butcher. I'm surprised you haven't lost any yet. They just die. [​IMG]. Heart attack.
    I lost one of my 5 week old Cornish Rock X last night.
    I can't wait until it's time to put them in the freezer!
  7. hinkjc

    hinkjc Crowing

    Jan 11, 2007
    The only thing that I could imagine going on with them in their short life is ascites....pretty common in broiler type chickens due to their massive growth in a short amount of time. Their feed intake needs to be regulated from 3-8 wks to get them to processing. If not, they develop fluid around their heart and flip (die). That may be coming with their symptoms of decreased activity.


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