Raising Broilers

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by mbelim, Jun 20, 2016.

  1. mbelim

    mbelim In the Brooder

    Good day ALL,

    Just a little background before I get started,
    I have a fair amount of experience in raising chicks as I incubate and raise at least 100 chicks per week.
    These are mixed breeds (Rhode islands,orpingtons, mix jumble no specific breeds). They are quite hardy so not many fatalities.
    I purchase the eggs from a local farmer and set them in my incubator. I don't have my own laying flock.
    I then raise them up to almost 3/4 weeks until I sell them.
    This is a tiny sideline hobby/business.

    I had recently attempted to grow broilers as I am informed that they grow fully in 8 weeks.
    For some reason I failed miserably. I purchased 3 batches of 100 chicks and all 3 times I failed.

    Now I am aware that generally fatalities would occur during the first 3 weeks, I found however that my chicks would be fine up until 3/4weeks, and then I would get many fatalities. Sometimes up to 8 chickens a day,

    I have several infrared heat bulbs but all concentrated in one area in their shed. The fact that they survived quite well during the 1st 3 weeks leads me to believe that the heating was OK.

    I feel that they would probably be affected by their litter and for that reason they die?

    I am now considering purchasing this make shift coop which is properly insulated so I do not foresee any heating issues here.



    I plan on using gas heaters in here as opposed to the electric infrared heat bulbs I normally use, I'm just a little concerned on how the heat will be regulated since the electric heaters have a thermostat that can be set.

    During my last attempt to grow the broilers, I used shavings on the coop floor. I feel that this probably contributed to the high mortality rate.
    My inclination now is to rather use these slates on the floor. Any ideas or suggestions?


  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    You may be on the right track. It sounds like your problem could be Coccidiosis. It could be something else but Cocci is sure worth checking out.

    There are several different strains of the bug that causes Cocci. That bug lives in the ground and thrives in warm moist soil. In South Africa, you probably have that. There are no real problems having some of those bugs in your birds’ systems, the chicks will develop an immunity to that specific strain of Cocci in two to three weeks as long as the numbers don’t get out of hand. If the numbers get out of hand, the chicks can die.

    The normal life cycle of that bug is they live in the chick’s gut and lay “eggs”. These “eggs” (not technically eggs but close enough for out discussion) pass through their digestive system and out the rear end. After a couple of days they develop to a point that if the chick then eats them, they hatch and add to the numbers. These thrive in warm moist poopy soil or even water with poop in it. Three weeks sounds about right. The numbers gradually build up in the poop or dirty water and the chicks are overwhelmed. Broilers poop a lot more than your other dual purpose chicks so they are more susceptible to Cocci. It could be something else happening, you can take a fecal sample to a vet and they can tell you if this is it.

    So what do you do? Clean water is a must. To top Cocci you need to totally change out any dirty water every couple of days. Don’t just refill their water, totally change it out if it is dirty. That will also break up the breeding cycle of mosquitoes as a side benefit. I don’t know what watering system you are using so this may be appropriate or not.

    The other thing is that the bug thrives in wet poopy soil. You normally need to keep the brooder dry but as much as broilers poop, the poop will build up and keep itself wet. The shavings help dry the poop out initially, especially if they get stirred up, but with broilers the poop just overwhelms the shavings. At some point they need to be changed out. Cocci is a huge problem in the broiler industry if it is not addressed.

    You can use medicated feeds or other “medicines”. Here in the States our medicated feed normally contains Amprolium in a dosage that inhibits the reproduction of that Cocci bug. In the dosage in the feed it does not totally stop the reproduction, it still allows some reproduction so the chick can develop the immunity it needs later in life. Since broilers don’t have a “later life” so they don’t need that immunity many commercial operations use medicines that totally wipe out the bug. There are medical solutions available and you may need to look into them, but wet poop build-up is still unhealthy.

    Commercial broilers are often raised on wire. If the chicks can’t eat the poop with the “eggs” in it, the bug doesn’t normally build up in those huge numbers that cause the problem. You still will get a really big pop build-up that will really stink if you don’t remove the poop so it is only a partial solution, but it can solve the Cocci problem. Maybe build trays that fit under your grating that you can pull out to empty?

    You are considering grating so this may not be a problem, but wire sometimes has sharp nubs from the manufacturing process, either automatic welding of the wire or from the galvanizing process. These can chew up the chick’s feet. If that grating is galvanized you could have this problem. If those nubs are present they should all be on the same side, so check the wire or grating to make sure you are putting the smooth side up. Rub your hand across the wire or grating and put the side up that does not cause bleeding.

    As I said, I don’t know that Coccidiosis is your problem but it sure sounds like it could be. Good luck!
  3. Folly's place

    Folly's place Free Ranging

    Sep 13, 2011
    southern Michigan
    I wonder about the heating; are they too warm? I have raised the Cornishx birds a few times, and find that they generate so much heat themselves, after about three weeks of age, nearly no extra heating is needed. I agree about the wet/dirty bedding, they need it improved more often. Why are your birds dying? Post-mortem exams done? Heart failure is a huge issue, and joint problems. They don't handle heat well at all, high ambient temps are deadly. They tend to sit in front of the feeder, and not move easily to warmer or cooler locations. I think they are pathetic little guys who shouldn't be produced at all! It's economics, not animal welfare. The slightly slower growing broiler strains (here freedom ranger types) will take longer but survive much better. I wouldn't try to raise Cornishx birds in warmer summer temps at all. Mary
  4. mbelim

    mbelim In the Brooder

    Coccidiosis could most certainly be the problem here as the description seems to fit the manner in which they were dying.

    I appreciate your lengthy response and diagnosis.

    I will keep updated on how this turns out with my new set up......
  5. mbelim

    mbelim In the Brooder

    @Folly's place
    I don't think they were too warm as the heat was concentrated in one area in the house, They would need to get under the bulbs to heat up and had ample space to move around.
    I have no idea how to do Post Mortems on birds to be honest.
    I had a nipple drinking system which would leak a lot on the floor and I suspect that the wet floor mixing with bedding and droppings contributed highly to the deaths.

    I would notice several respiratory issues such as snorting etc. Not sure what that would suggest.

    I agree totally that broilers aren't to be produced at all. it gives me the shivers watching them grow at such a rapid pace as opposed to the free rangers.

    But I have a whole lot of customers sitting on my head demanding that that's what they want.....
  6. Folly's place

    Folly's place Free Ranging

    Sep 13, 2011
    southern Michigan
    Wet bedding is never good, and it's sad that things went so badly. I've never used the nipple watering system, but thought it wasn't as likely to leak? Apparently not. What I noticed most about the Cornishx birds was their unwillingness to move around much at all. Mine would 'plotz' in front of the feeder regardless of conditions there. Mary

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