Ok...my 5 week olds are dying...anything to do??? Help!


12 Years
Jan 18, 2008
We ordered 25 of the Cornish Crosses (got 26)and have been really happy with their health. One arrived DOA, I had one die in a flooded brooder catastrophe a few weeks back, and everyone else has been great. We moved them to a larger pen, and they seemed to be thriving. I have been restricting the food after 7 PM like has been suggested.

All of a sudden, I've lost 2 chicks since last night. Their crops are full, and they seem healthy, except right before they died, they refused to stand and seemed sleepy. Everyone else is fine. They are probably about 2-3 pounds right now. It does seem to be the larger ones that are dying. There's no warning for it.

Is this how it starts? Should I start killing the older chicks? Aren't they still too young? What can I do? Is it something else? Droppings are normal, everyone seems like they are doing great, then all of a sudden, one starts sleeping, and won't move unless you physically move it yourself. Then, it's only a matter of hours.

I need some hand-holding. These are our first meaties. I don't know what's normal. They just seem to small to be dying.


sometimes they just die, if you loose more I would start processing the bigger ones and work your way down a few each week. They probably weigh a lot more than 2-3 lbs at 5 weeks btw although dressed they would be around there.
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I wouldn't worry about it yet. Losing a couple in the first day or so is common, and although it sucks, you're going to have a couple losses once they get bigger. I certainly wouldn't start processing 5 week olds unless it was an emergency. I always expect 10% losses with Cornish X's, then I'm happy if I'm under that. If it's your first time raising them, you'll probably lose a little more. It's most likely not due to anything you're doing wrong, or any huge problem with the birds.
Thanks for the reassurances. This is our first time raising them, so I am not sure what to expect. They seem too small to be processing, yet, so I hope it levels out. I was happy that I had only lost the one to the flooded brooder, so that is why I was shocked when seemingly healthy birds just dropped dead.

Everyone is up and running around today, but they were yesterday, too.
I guess they are having heart attacks, but I am limiting their food like is recommended, so I don't know what else to do.

I hate that I've got them this far and now they are just dropping.
We'll see what happens. Maybe it was just those two.

Are their heads a darkish color right before they die? Do you still have 24 hour lighting?

When they hit 5 weeks they do need to have some kind of resting time instead of 24 hour lighting. Use natural lighting during the day and then a low wattage bulb during the night... I use red lights... and they seem to slow way down and actually rest.

It's hard to say but given your description it seems like heart failure... One way to find out is to open the cavity and if yellowish fluid comes out then that was it.
On the last one I did see the yellowish fluid. I've used a red light the entire time, because they were picking at each other and it seemed to help. So I keep that on 24/7. Otherwise, it is natural light. There is a window in the barn, and I open the doors for air circulation during the day. It's gotten down in the 50's at night, but they have their heat light and each other, so I don't think that is an issue. During the day it's been 70's and 80's. Should I be restricting their water at night? Sometimes it looks like they were bathing in it. I just have the plastic red and white 3 gallon waterer.

Thanks for the help!

Ya keep the water... but I would turn the lights off for about 2 hours for starters and then work your way up to turning the lights off completely for at least 5 hours...

My 6 week olds get light from morning till' dark... which is about 7:00 till 7:00 right now. But they never run out of feed or water in that time period.

I have 4 week olds on pasture in pens that are getting 24 hour lighting with 24 hour feed and water. This time of year I feed them 24/7 till 4-5 weeks to get them fully feathered as it's getting cold.

I've done it both ways and I think wants they hit that 5 week mark they need some sleep... all lights off... They will be fine, just do it slow for the first couple of days and then increase it to at least 5 hours of "nap-time".

Jaku does 24/7 lighting and I don't think he has problems with heart attacks... maybe he can help you with your situation. I know everyone does it differently with good results....

But the yellowish fluid in the cavity is a signature marke of CHF.... Someway some how you have to slow them down a bit as they are growing too fast... What is the percentage of protein your feeding?
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I lost 4 yesterday.
I give up! I have figured that the ones that like to get out and follow me around while I do chores seem to be thriving, while the ones that lay around and stay under the heat lamp are the ones dying. I'm having my friend come and take her half so I won't be responsible for hers dying anymore!

I guess I'll be starting the forced physical exercise programs today. No food inside their pen...they'll have to leave the barn and eat in the yard. You would think it would be the ones wandering around following me all day long.
But, I guess if it is heart problems, the exercise is doing them good.

This is insane!

Did you turn the lights off? This is very important, especially if you have HF running through your flock already. Not much you can do to treat but you can start preventing it.

But with out looking at your birds it could be a whole array of diseases that may be lurking in your flock... it's hard to say.

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