Problems with meat chickens...????


Jan 17, 2016
I joined a little co-op today. The family buys and raises chickens for the group as a food source. They are free range, and eat well...and seem to be really healthy. I helped clean and dress about 100 today. Two of the chickens had cardiac tamponade (fluid around the heart in the sack) and the one I took home had a horrible looking tumor in the breast at the bone. I have a picture and video. Is this a normal occurrence in 100 chickens and I just got lucky? I have to admit it set me back a little.
Anyone with any info?


Jan 17, 2016
These are the white chickens....sorry that's all I know about chickens. The avg weight is about 5-6lbs. I learned a bunch....some of them have there is such a thing as a male chicken? and its not a rooster? They do not lay eggs I was told so are they GMO? I think all chickens are GMO nowadays.


Crossing the Road
12 Years
Feb 2, 2009
Southeast Louisiana
Actually no chickens are GMO. All breeds have been developed by selective breeding, even the hybrid meat chickens and the hybrid commercial layers. A hen can only lay one egg a day because that’s how long it takes for an egg to go through the hen’s internal egg making factory. The meat ones grow so fast now that their body has trouble keeping up. Their heart can’t take it and quits or their skeleton breaks down. If they grew any faster they would not live to butcher age. They have been able to achieve all that by selective breeding. There is just no reason to go to the expense of GMO on chickens. Why spend money when you don’t have to? That’s bad business.

I’ll mention something else too. In the US no chickens are fed growth hormones. Hormones were banned for chickens in the late 1950’s. It’s still legal for most other animals but not for chickens. I know you occasionally see people advertise that their chicken is hormone free and they are telling the truth. But their competitors’ chicken does not have hormones either. Are they really being that honest?

I think I’ve seen what you are calling tumors on a very few chickens. I don’t raise the meaties, dual purpose instead, so it’s not just limited to the meaties. It’s right on the breastbone. It looks like a tumor but I’m not sure if it is or maybe they bruised it when jumping on something. It’s in the right place to be a bruise.

About half the chickens that hatch are males. Until they grow up and become roosters we call them cockerels. They do have testicles. The ones you saw were probably really small. When they mature the testicles can approach the size of your thumb.

I don’t know who told you they don’t lay eggs or what they were talking about. Every one of those chickens was hatched from an egg. If you restrict their feed so they don’t grow fast enough to eat themselves to death the females can and will lay eggs. Maybe they meant that they are not good for eggs because they generally don’t live long enough to lay?

Several members of this forum have tried keeping meaties and get eggs from them, though they normally don’t live long lives. One person even said they had one go broody.


Jan 17, 2016
Wow....thank you so much for all the information! Unfortunately I know what cancer looks like, at least in humans. Its not a bruise.
I can send the video if you like....but I don't want to gross anyone out. An entire section of the meat at the bone was involved and the bone was looking like it was next.
The tamponade, well I am using logic....if the chicken was dying too slowly the body might react in that manner...much the same as in humans. The incision to bleed them may have been too small or it clotted. I wasn't too worried after I looked up some things. I would worry though if it was caused by an infection (another cause).
I truely appreciate the time you took to answer my questions. There is a lot of mis-information out there....and it sounds like you have the experience I will trust.

Walker Farm

Jan 9, 2016
Garner, NC

I'm new to raising meat chickens. Today I checked my chicks and found one that doesn't seem to be able to walk. My chicks are freedom Rangers and were born 12/20. I removed it from the flock, what should I do? I have it in a small box with food and water, is it sick?


In the Brooder
Nov 18, 2015
Cornish Cross?

EDIT: Oops, nevermind -- you said Freedom Rangers. Sorry!

Last edited:


Free Ranging
5 Years
Feb 14, 2014
Consett Co.Durham. UK
I would suggest that the tumour may be caused by Marek's disease. I'm lead to believe that they are safe to eat if that is the case although I'm not sure I would want to.

@ Walker Farm

Your chick's problem may also be Marek's disease although meat birds grow so quickly they have a tendency towards leg and joint problems anyway, just due to the sheer weight they have to carry. If you are raising them for meat I would think you might be as well to just harvest it early. If you want to give it a chance to grow bigger you could rig up a chicken sling and suspend it with food and water within reach. You can make a chicken sling by putting an appropriately sized robust cardboard box inside an old t shirt and cutting holes in the t shirt where the opening of the box is for the legs and vent and then placing the chicken in it so that it is suspended off the ground or most of the weight is suspended but it can touch the ground. Sometimes they struggle to get out but you can put a second t-shirt over the top to stop them getting out. Food and water dishes can be clipped to the edge of the box in front of them once they settle, so that they have everything they need.

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