Preventing heavier meat birds from going "down on their legs."

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by johnscalido, Jul 19, 2010.

  1. johnscalido

    johnscalido In the Brooder

    Jun 9, 2010
    I would like to raise the above subject. I have been using this site and I must say that I have learnt a lot and it is awesome. I have spoken to quite a few people and many have raised the issue that heavier meat birds will go down on their legs due to the excessive weight. My question is how does one then raise these birds tp prevent them from going down on their legs. I would think commercially the weight issue might not be much of a problem, because most commercial farmers are growing broilers/ Cornish crosses for the commercial supermarkets and grocers. Chicken is expensive. Therefore most consumers would actually prefer to purchase smaller "whole" chickens as opposed to very large ones which becomes mroe expensive as chickens are sold by the pound.

    However I think that most farmers and especially people who use the site, would prefer larger birds. Why put in so much effort just to grow a 3 pound bird! This is my intention. Does anybody have similiar intentions.

    I have posted a question earlier on the site and found that some people have spoken about the 12 hour on and 12 hour off system. Someone also suggested the 18 hour on and 6 hour off system.

    However if you gave the birds 24 hour feed access then they would obviously pick up weight much faster but this could also lead to the problem of them going down on their legs faster due to the fact that there skeletal structure cannot develop fast enough in order to support the extra excessive weight and also it could lead to more severe problems such as heart attacks, cholesterol, strokes and etc.

    Does the 12 hour on and 12 hour off system then give the skeletal structure time to develop in order to support the bird's heavier weight.

    Does the key lie with the keeping the birds hungry for have the day in order to build skeletal structure properly in order to support the heavier weight or could leaving them hungry lead to more technicalities such as malnutrition, exhaustion and etc.
  2. hensonly

    hensonly Songster

    May 15, 2008
    upstate NY
    I can't answer all your questions, but as I understand it, raising the feeders and waterers so the birds have to stand to reach them helps strengthen the legs. Some people also put vitamins in the water. I don't worry about the 12 on, 12 off because birds don't feed when it's dark anyway. That's for people who use artificial lighting 24 hours so the birds willeat and grow as much as possible.

    I just finished raising a flock of Rangers (they get processed tomorrow) and I would definitely do them again. They grow a bit slower than the Cornish crosses but I still have some very large birds...I can post weights after tomorrow.the Rangers are active birds who have very little trouble with going down on their legs. I understand that with the Cornish, some people raise the feeders and waterers so they have to stand to eat and drink. I'm sure you'll get more info from others!
  3. Hillsvale

    Hillsvale Songster

    Oct 20, 2009
    Hillsvale, Nova Scotia
    well I can't attest to the 12 on 12 off but what we do is fill their feeders in the morning... which they manage to eat within the 1/2 hour.... then they are out ranging all say. When we get home they are all lined up at the gate wating for their dinner we then fill their trough again. So even on a restricted diet my 9 week old cornish weighed about (we bought a scale post cull) 10 lbs pre-processing and they all dressed out to 7lbs! ... they waddles like they had a full diaper and sat like little buddas with their legs out in front but they didn't seen to have and problems with legs.... yet.

    Also for those who have said that cornish cross don't eat grass I can verify with 100% certainty that this is incorrect... I cut open the gizzard (a hockey puck like thing) on the birds I processed this weekend out of curiosity. It was jam packed with gradd, pebbles, dirt... the odd bit of bug. Both gross and fascinating all at the same time! [​IMG]
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2010
  4. aggieterpkatie

    aggieterpkatie Songster

    Apr 26, 2009
    I've never had a bird go down on me. I think as long as you provide adequate room for exercise, they'll do fine. My broilers this batch are now in their 9th week and several of the roos are very large. They still run around chasing bugs. I free range mine and they do wonderfully.
  5. cassie

    cassie Crowing

    Mar 19, 2009
    I called Foster Farms the large commercial broiler producer in this area. They give their chickens natural light. Even their chickens are not exposed to light 24 hours. I have gotten broilers to 16 pounds dressed weight. Don't reccommend it but they didn't go down on their legs. I like roasters in the 11 pound range. I feed turkey feed, give feed 12 hours on/off and put Broiler Booster available from Murray McMurray in the water. I think it helps. Don't have many go down on their legs, but any that do get processed ASAP.
  6. rungirl

    rungirl Songster

    Apr 7, 2010
    Columbus, Ohio
    I've raised cornish cross and never had a problem with their legs. Sometimes I free range them a few hours, but they don't go very far. They are content to take two steps and sit down in the grass, so I'm not sure they get much out of it. One other thing I do is put the food and water at separate ends of the brooder to make them walk a little to eat and drink. Don't put anything for them to perch on because they are too fat and clumsy and could hurt themselves.
  7. chikeemomma25

    chikeemomma25 In the Brooder

    Apr 7, 2010
    Southeast AL
    We had a Cornish X on accident. We recently had to put her down. We were trying to find someone to take her and butcher her but no one would. We certainley didn't have the heart. By the time we began considering it she was about 20wks old and HUGE. She walked all over the yard, free ranging with all the others. Eating what they ate. She would run/ was so funny. She was a good bird. My hsuband killed her because she developed a "growth" on her breast, or so we think and she started gurgling. I am assuming going into heart failure. He put her down and buried her. She was just a good But...he said that it took all he had to carry her out into the woods! He said she had to weight close to 15lbs...and she was a good walker/runner/waddler lol. BTW, that is her in my avatar hanging out in the garden a few days before we put her down.
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2010

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