Losing my Flock - Help!!

Why are my Cornish Cross fryers dying?

  • Wrong protein content.

    Votes: 1 16.7%
  • CX can't handle the heat no matter what mixture.

    Votes: 1 16.7%
  • You are an idiot and shouldn't be trying to raise chickens in this heat!

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • You can raise chickens in the heat if you know how to do it right!

    Votes: 5 83.3%

  • Total voters


7 Years
May 31, 2012
My 26 CX flock is now down to 8. I lost two during the first two days and everything was going well for the first three weeks. Then I started losing 1 or 2 every few days. Today I lost 8. Tomorrow the remaining birds will be five weeks old. I'm trying to figure out what is going wrong and I think I've figured it out but wanted to see what others think.

I have 7 other chickens (layers) that I've been raising with the cx. They are all just fine. They've been raised in the same coop/yard on the same food. They have plenty of water and food is available all the time. Yesterday my son sprayed for bugs in and around the coop at my wife's request. Originally I thought that the pesticide had killed them but the layers are all fine. It seems that if the pesticide would kill the cx that it would also kill the layers. So, I've ruled out the pesticide. And, the pesticide is some organic thing that is supposed to be safe for all animals.

I've been feeding all of the birds a 24% game bird protein for the last 3.5 weeks. I live in the Las Vegas valley and its been getting hot - up to 103 today. I have shade for the birds, plenty of water which is kept cool and fans going but its still hot. My thinking is that the cx's just can't handle the heat with their bodies growing so very fast. They are up to about 4 pounds after 5 weeks. The coop is quite clean - hasn't had diseased birds in it before - and is next to the garden so it gets a fair amount of bugs that migrate over which the chickens readily eat. I think I've been feeding them too much protein and that I should have been on an 18% mix so their internal organs had time to keep up with their muscle growth.

What do you think? Am I missing something? Thanks in advance!


8 Years
Jul 23, 2011
Coastal Southern Maine
I live in Maine and I lost 14 cx's when the temp hit 98(and humidity 85%) last summer.The cx's have very lil heat tolerance and are imo quite fragile.I did manage to save the rest of my flock(of 30)during that 2 day heat wave by administering baby aspirin, as it seemed to help against heat stroke,which is what killed the cx's above.
Incidentally,I would never spray an insecticide around anything alive,particularly something that produces eggs,etc for me.There are some hair raising carcinogens(yes,proven in legit studies)that are BANNED in other countries yet sold here in the US in weed killers and insecticides that are popular with mainstream America-YIKES! The Layers are much less fragile than the meat birds,imo,I wouldn't rule out the pesticide as a contributing factor to there demise/death...these products contain phytohormones that mimic hormones,etc.
Probably too much info,but...not only will I not have chemical weedkillers such as ,"Roundup",sprayed near or on my property,I will not go to any park,golf course,etc after a fairly new treatment nor will I buy or handle hay for my horses treated with weedkillers.
Not to stray off the subject too much :) ...I've seen a HUGE increase in alleged,"Gluten Intolerance",in people/kids(some that manifests as neuro psych behavioral problems in children) the past ten yrs,particularly since the advent of,"GE"("Genetically Engineered")wheat,which is wheat that is genetically altered to be resistent to heavy treatment with Roundup type herbicides to kill en masse weeds in wheat fields,imo, it is entirely possible that a moderate-large percent of people are showing intolerance to these chemicals sprayed on wheat and are being labeled ,"gluten intolerant"...!
OK,I'll step down off my soapbox now...Lol
Good luck with your Birds! If u find a way for them to tolerate heat,particularly humid heat,pls let me know.Here on the Tundra(Maine) most people try to raise the birds before the 95 deg, 90% humidity days of late August...
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10 Years
Apr 29, 2011
Northwest Indiana
I think you're probably right with your theory. It's probably a mix of eating too much, too rapid of growth from high protein, and the heat.


My Patronus is a Chicken
11 Years
Apr 22, 2008
I agree that it is a mix of things. Your protein content is pretty high which can lead to rapid growth and flip, and your temps are really high for cornish x. We stop raising them in the summer because they have a hard time in the heat.


7 Years
May 31, 2012
Thank you to each of you!

Sarah, you've certainly given me a few things to think about.

I failed to mention that I've had food in front of the 24/7. I read elsewhere on this forum that these birds will eat themselves to death. I'm not going to feed them as much now and see how that works out. I would hate to lose my final 8 as I'm just about done building my plucker!


8 Years
Aug 18, 2011
N. Texas
My Coop
My Coop
I am going to respectfully disagree about the protein content. At 4 weeks I give mine 24% and at 6 weeks I bump it to 28% until they are butchered at 8 weeks. I don't ration, I give them all they want.

I honestly think it is the heat. I did an early batch and my average dressed weight was 7 lbs. I also had a batch running 4 weeks behind the first using the same exact feedings and I averaged 6 lbs. I live in Texas and it has been unusually warm and every day I came home from work I could see the strain on the birds from the heat. I never lost a single bird, but I was prepared to. The night before I was to dispatch 27 birds, we had a horrible hail storm (hail was still on the ground in piles 8 hours after it had stopped) and I figured this would have taken some out but it didn't.

I am also a firm believer in using ACV in the water. I tried both batches without it for a little bit and noticed a big differences in the birds appearance and weight gain. From now on, from day 1 I will use ACV in the water until dispatching.

Oregon Blues

8 Years
Apr 14, 2011
Central Oregon
First of all, my sympathies. That's a tough financial hit to lose so many birds.

I think the game bird feed is fine. I don't feed it because of the cost, not because I think the protein is too high.

For daytime temperatures that high, I'd make sure the birds had plenty of deep shade, and either a breeze or a fan. In the desert, they probably ought to have a mist-er.

Any sort of coop is probably blistering hot inside, even with a window open. I know you get strong sun there.

Their drinking water is probably uncomfortably warm, so water needs to be changed often. I drop a few ice cubes into the water when temperatures get high, and I don't see any weather nearly that hot.

Cornish Cross have hearts that are barely adequate for the job and heat causes a lot of stress on a body.

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