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Losing 1-2/ day to unknown causes. Picture attached

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by MikeG, Oct 1, 2012.

  1. MikeG

    MikeG In the Brooder

    Jun 19, 2009
    Roanoke, Va
    Started with 75 and began losing 1-2 a day last week around week 6. Only symptoms, as far as I can tell, are lethargy and labored breathing. Somebody on a previous thread suggested congestive heart failure. Maybe I need to exercise them a bit more? :/ We're down to 60 birds and have another 3-4 weeks to processing

    Feed is from a local mill and we've had good results before this batch. I've attached a pic of the latest casualty in its last minutes...

    Looking for any insight from seasoned folks. Many thanks in advance!


  2. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon
    Are they cornish cross? If so, why wait? Butcher them now!
  3. MikeG

    MikeG In the Brooder

    Jun 19, 2009
    Roanoke, Va
    Yes, They're cornish cross. I will if I have to but they're still on the small side.
  4. naillikwj82

    naillikwj82 Songster

    Oct 30, 2011
    Olympic Peninsula, WA
    What number of birds have to be wasted before the decision to process the remaining birds? At 2 bird deaths a day your at the point of diminishing returns. We once lost 40 per cent of a batch with CX. Small birds in the freezer are better than dead birds in the compost.
  5. Oregon Blues

    Oregon Blues Crowing

    Apr 14, 2011
    Central Oregon
    That many lost with lethargy and labored breathing, I think you've got some sort of respiratory bug. If they were mine, I'd be treating with an antibiotic that targets breathing issues.

    It would be some serious bad luck to have so many die of congestive heart failure, and all at the same time, too.

    You can open one of the dead ones up and see what the insides are like. If it is congestive heart failure the body cavity will be full of yellow fluid. Sometimes there is a clear tissue bag around the heart,
  6. Haunted55

    Haunted55 Songster

    Feb 15, 2012
    Central Maine
    I would also think about putting sav-a-chick in their water. What is the percentage on the food you are using?
  7. mmktdox

    mmktdox Chirping

    Are the birds in an area that is well ventilated? Just wondering about air quality. The produce alot of waste and the ammonia can affect their breathing. Lethargy and labored breathing are signs of heart failure usually brought on by overfeeding. Are you free freeding them? Alot of chicken experts on this forum recommend limiting feed after they are ten days old to prevent them from eating themselves to death. If you have one that has just died in the last day (less than 24 hrs) open up the body cavity. You may find alot of clear yellowish liquid, this will tell you if they're dying from heart failure.

    You may have to start culling early.

    I would also contact your supplier to see if this particular batch is problematic. I've heard of that happening before as well.

    Sorry for the bad luck, I've only raised meat birds for two seasons and it's definitely been a sharp learning curve! [​IMG]

  8. El Exorcisto

    El Exorcisto In the Brooder

    Jul 23, 2011
    If it's CHF then exercising them will only exacerbate the problem. If it is indeed a bug then it sounds like time to start stabbing brains and slitting throats. If you really want to go down the antibiotic route you'll still lose some birds before the turnaround, if the turnaround ever comes. Then you'll have to feed them off to get the antibiotics out of their system, unless it doesn't bother you.

    If you do a necropsy on one of your dead ones, CHF would present with an oversized right and potentially left heart, fluid filled lungs, and maybe some fluid in the pericardium (sac around the heart). Yellow fluid throughout is also possible, but is more likely ascites from liver dysfunction. Both of these problems arise in the cornish cross for obvious reasons.
  9. mmktdox

    mmktdox Chirping

    I agree that exercising them will probably lead to more losses. But I've never heard of ascites being directly caused by liver dysfunction. The fluid is buildup is a result of a cardiovascular problem which in turn leads to liver swelling and fluid in the abdomen. I've necropsied a couple of birds that I lost to "flip" and they had the enlarged heart and the yellow fluid. Pretty gross when you open them up actually, it's like thick pee! [​IMG]

    Check out this link for a detailed description http://www.canadianpoultry.ca/ascites.htm
    1 person likes this.
  10. MikeG

    MikeG In the Brooder

    Jun 19, 2009
    Roanoke, Va
    Incredible insight and discussion. Thanks. Ventilation is good. Started restricting feed a bit and decided to give a dose of antibotics to rule out upper respiratory ailment. This is day two and lost one yesterday and one had labored breathing. You could hear it wheezing and see the struggle for air.

    If its CHF, wouldn't expect it to affect the whole flock? Wondering if the unlimited access to food caused the extra stress to the heart? Read the article from Canadian Poultry. Thanks for that link. We certainly have pretty large temp variations this time of year. And our two young children wanting to hold, love, and pet each one of them have probably caused a bit of stress-

    Tentatively scheduled processing for Tuesday. Hoping we don't lose anymore so we can hold off for a few more weeks- but like what was mentioned above, it makes more sense to have several small ones in the freezer than none at all...

    Will poke around if we lose anymoreo and let ya'll know what it looks like-

    Thanks again all!

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