Lots of broken feathers on broilers

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by pasturedpastor, May 9, 2011.

  1. pasturedpastor

    pasturedpastor New Egg

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    Apr 20, 2011
    I'm new to the world of chickens, so any help is tremendously appreciated.

    I have a batch of cornish cross broilers, about 6 weeks old, with lots of ugly looking broken and missing feathers. It started in the brooder, as the chicks grew (quickly), they spent most of the lying time on their bellies. Their bellies began to look dirty and matted and started looking like they were losing the fuzz there, which wasn't really being replaces by feathers. Using hardwood shavings, I began giving them more frequent and deeper fresh bedding. No change. But never having raised chicks, I thought maybe it was normal.

    When they moved outside into the tractor, the problem didn't improve. Now it looks considerably worse. Their bellies are covered with broken feathers. All around their vents and under their wings, it looks the same: missing and broken feathers.

    I can't see any mites on the birds. They scratch and pick at themselves, but don't seem to peck at one another (at least, not while I'm looking). I have one runt who got injured from moving the tractor, and he never really recovered. A few days ago, I found one of the birds dead and belly-up. At first, I suspected waterbelly, so I cut him open and he had some (1/4 cup?) yellowish fluid in his belly.

    Here are some pictures from today.
    Er, new members can't post pictures. I can email them to you or maybe post them elsewhere...

    Thanks in advance for your help.

    -Jeff
     
  2. pasturedpastor

    pasturedpastor New Egg

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    Apr 20, 2011
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  3. pasturedpastor

    pasturedpastor New Egg

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    Apr 20, 2011
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  4. pasturedpastor

    pasturedpastor New Egg

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    Any help?

    An update: the guy from the hatchery says they look like normal 6-week-old broilers.

    I'll try to get a picture of their bald bellies...
     
  5. pasturedpastor

    pasturedpastor New Egg

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    I lost 2 more chickens overnight. The local vet said they don't really deal with birds, but would do a skin scrape if trying some Eprinex didn't solve the problem.

    Will mites kill a bird? Is it buffalo gnat season already? I can't figure out what's getting these birds. The weather's been back and forth: hot and cold, wet and dry, with not much moderation between extremes.

    Here's a pic of a belly (on a dead bird).
    [​IMG]

    Help?
     
  6. Gypsy07

    Gypsy07 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 4, 2010
    Glasgow, Scotland
    Hi Jeff!

    Firstly, welcome to BYC and secondly, sorry your message has gone unanswered for so long.

    I'm not sure what's happening with your birds, but if the guy from the hatchery says they look normal to him, then that's a start. I've never kept meat birds, so I don't have any experience of them, but I do know they grow tremendously fast compared with breeds kept for their eggs, and I also know that a lot of intensively farmed chickens grow so fast that they outgrow their capability to support their own weight, and I'm wondering if your problem might have something to do with this.

    Lice and mites CAN kill a bird, but only if they're left unchecked for a reasonably long time. I think that any mite infestation that was bad enough to cause the death of some of your birds would be obvious as soon as you inspected any of them. if you've looked closely and you can't see anything on the birds, then it's most likely not lice or mites. Unless it's red mites, which don't actually live on the birds, but just crawl onto them at night and disappear again by the morning. But mites don't cause broken feathers... Do the birds have broken feathers all over, or just on their undersides? If it was caused by bullying, you'd expect to see bald heads, necks, shoulders and backs.

    What are you feeding them? I don't even know if meat birds should be fed on a different type of feed from other chickens, but if you give as many details as possible it might give someone else who is reading this a clue. I think I'd start by checking that I'm feeding them the right stuff and by putting a chicken multivitamin and mineral in their water, in case they're low on some vital nutrient. Lots of folk here give their chicks PolyViSol childrens vitamins, but it HAS to be the one without iron in it.

    Please check back in and give us an update on your birds...
     
  7. turtlebird

    turtlebird Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Dec 11, 2009
    I also am not an expert on raising broilers. THis is my third year and my present batch are only just over a week old. Although when I saw your pictures, my first response was, " Oh yeah, I forgot about that" (regarding the feathering). In my observation, the breed seems to outgrow it's feathers! And what feathers they do have are never pretty. They do seem to rather large for 6 weeks. If fluid is accumulating, then I would suspect that their hearts were not working properly? You may have some birds suffering from heart failure? How much do they weigh right now?
    I would suggest you somehow re-direct this question to the section on raising meat birds. Many many experts there!
    Sorry about your losses, I hope someone can help you out with your issue.
     
  8. pasturedpastor

    pasturedpastor New Egg

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    For the first 5 1/2 weeks, they ate a bag of Dumor non medicated starter then Nutrena Naturewise Chick Starter non medicated crumbles. Now they're eating Nutrena Country Feed 18% all flock and all the grass, weeds, and bugs they can handle.

    Thanks for the tips. I'll repost in the meat birds section.

    -Jeff
     

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