I didn't realize raising meat birds would be stressful..

ZooSD

Chirping
12 Years
Jan 26, 2008
96
3
94
Sparta, TN
My Cornish X (1st group) are just 2days shy of 9wks old. One of the pullets died at 7wks and I had to dispose of her, I was irritated with the time and money (and meal) that I lost. I've been paranoid since then and I check on them several times a day to make sure they're all ok. I processed 2 of them at 8 wks and the live weights were almost 8 and 9lbs. The smaller dressed out at 5.4lb and I didn't weigh the other one. Today I we've had a sudden increase in outside temps and it's in the mid 90's. Some of the larger birds are having difficulty breathing and one of them was starting to become cyanotic. I decided to butcher him so I didn't lose the whole thing. I was planning on doing a couple every night and finishing on the weekend, I never prepared for "emergency" processing. Is it normal for these guys to go that quickly? BTW, the one I did today was 10lb live weight and dressed out at 8.4lb. He would have been 9wks this Saturday.
 

HeatherFeather

Songster
10 Years
Feb 16, 2009
191
7
121
Severn Bridge, ON
Your birds are really big for their age, but not unheard of. It seems the faster that they grow, yes they are more prone to heart and breathing problems esp. when combined with heat stress. Mine usually dress out at 4.5-5.5 lbs for 9 weeks. I do mine on pasture in a chicken tractor.

I've had some that I kept on for over a year, and they got to 9 and 11 lbs, but grew slowly and had no health issues, other than being HUGE!

I would say you have a good plan to get the processing done ASAP :) Start with the bigger males as they are the most likely to have heat stress problems, plus they are eating more.
 

ZooSD

Chirping
12 Years
Jan 26, 2008
96
3
94
Sparta, TN
Your birds are really big for their age, but not unheard of. It seems the faster that they grow, yes they are more prone to heart and breathing problems esp. when combined with heat stress. Mine usually dress out at 4.5-5.5 lbs for 9 weeks. I do mine on pasture in a chicken tractor.

I've had some that I kept on for over a year, and they got to 9 and 11 lbs, but grew slowly and had no health issues, other than being HUGE!

I would say you have a good plan to get the processing done ASAP :) Start with the bigger males as they are the most likely to have heat stress problems, plus they are eating more.

Wow, I can't imagine any of these lasting a year, but I certainly didn't expect them to be fine in the morning and dying by afternoon. I have a second group of 15 that are 3wks tomorrow, they weigh between 1lb 12oz and just over 2lb. Should I encourage the slower growth? I can't put them in a tractor due to space requirements. I have them in a 10' x 8' dog kennel and the food trough is mounted on the fence so they have to stand to eat, the water is across the pen on top of cinder blocks so they have to walk over to it and also have to stand to drink.
 

SIMZ

Crowing
10 Years
Apr 29, 2011
2,168
229
281
Northwest Indiana
Those are great weights for that age! Good job!

X2 on what HeatherFeather said. The bigger they get - especially when they're mostly sedentary - the more likely they are to keel over when it gets hot or they get stressed.

Personally, you could try to slow the growth of your second batch. Although, it could just result in smaller birds at the same age. If heat really becomes a problem you may just need to start processing them a week or so earlier.
 

BCMaraniac

Songster
6 Years
Mar 27, 2013
1,860
417
176
My Cornish X (1st group) are just 2days shy of 9wks old. One of the pullets died at 7wks and I had to dispose of her, I was irritated with the time and money (and meal) that I lost. I've been paranoid since then and I check on them several times a day to make sure they're all ok. I processed 2 of them at 8 wks and the live weights were almost 8 and 9lbs. The smaller dressed out at 5.4lb and I didn't weigh the other one. Today I we've had a sudden increase in outside temps and it's in the mid 90's. Some of the larger birds are having difficulty breathing and one of them was starting to become cyanotic. I decided to butcher him so I didn't lose the whole thing. I was planning on doing a couple every night and finishing on the weekend, I never prepared for "emergency" processing. Is it normal for these guys to go that quickly? BTW, the one I did today was 10lb live weight and dressed out at 8.4lb. He would have been 9wks this Saturday.
Yesterday, I had an "emergency" processing as well. My bird was also cyanotic(even his comb). I didn't weigh him, and I just skinned, took the breasts, tenders, wings, drumsticks and thighs, and discarded the rest. His abdomen was really distended, so I didn't want to risk getting into the intestines.

I woud get those large birds processed ASAP. Sounds like they are on the edge....and the least little hiccup could put them over. Mild congestive heart failure can become severe in no time at all.
 

ZooSD

Chirping
12 Years
Jan 26, 2008
96
3
94
Sparta, TN
Yesterday, I had an "emergency" processing as well. My bird was also cyanotic(even his comb). I didn't weigh him, and I just skinned, took the breasts, tenders, wings, drumsticks and thighs, and discarded the rest. His abdomen was really distended, so I didn't want to risk getting into the intestines.

I woud get those large birds processed ASAP. Sounds like they are on the edge....and the least little hiccup could put them over. Mild congestive heart failure can become severe in no time at all.

smile.png
I'm trying to get them done asap. I did two more tonight only stopping because the sunlight left me. I'm supposed to have a half day of work tomorrow so maybe I can get a couple more of the bigger ones done. So far I've processed 5 for a total of 34.2lbs of meat, not counting giblets/necks (or the tails which I remove). I'm worried because I'll be out of town all day Saturday and was planning on finishing Sunday. We'll see if I can get the last 9 done tomorrow.
 

dmack

In the Brooder
6 Years
May 2, 2013
71
1
30
WY
Doing good on weight. I find that a lot of them falling over dead has some to do with the type of feed. I have found that mash puts a steadier weight on them and isn't as harsh on the legs and organs. But 10 weeks is a typical age to process Cornish cross birds. Anything after that is a gamble on weather or not they will keel over. Panting is typical in most chickens though but if they are large in size it could be they are just to big for their lungs. Also genetics have a lot to do with them keeling over unexpectedly.
 

Life is Good!

Songster
9 Years
Apr 14, 2011
1,179
227
236
suburbia Chicagoland
If you haven't got a cover for their dog kennel run, go get a tarp and put it shiny side up to reflect sunlight.

You can also put a couple of box fans on them to help keep them cooler. If it's in front of a water-source (think plastic kid's sled with water in it), that will help even further.

Those were two tricks I did last summer in our heat waves. Seemed to make the birds a bit more comfortable. Ours didn't react well to being misted with water (even seen a scared chicken?! It's a chicken chicken!) - but that does help also. Any trick you do to keep cool in the heat works for them also.
 

SIMZ

Crowing
10 Years
Apr 29, 2011
2,168
229
281
Northwest Indiana
You can also put a couple of box fans on them to help keep them cooler. If it's in front of a water-source (think plastic kid's sled with water in it), that will help even further.
This is a fantastic idea! Thanks for sharing it. Hopefully, I won't have to try it out this summer......
wink.png
 

donrae

Hopelessly Addicted
Premium Feather Member
9 Years
Jun 18, 2010
31,453
4,051
581
Southern Oregon
I think you need to plan to process your next batch sooner. You've just let them get too big, and the bigger they are the less tolerant they are of the heat.
 

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