Split skin on meat birds.

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by DuckyGaze, Jul 9, 2016.

  1. DuckyGaze

    DuckyGaze Chillin' With My Peeps

    183
    10
    86
    Apr 10, 2015
    Our first year raising our own meat birds. They are the ones that get big and are all white. We bought them at the Coop store the 27th of May. Out of 35, we only have 18 left.
    What is bothering me is how the ones left, look. It is horrible. Hardly no feathers and their skin is very dark, almost purple. Some have terrible and painful looking splits on their skins. We have been feeding them as per the instructions of the Coop. 4 weeks on starter and we started the 2nd stage feed about 10 days ago.

    Today we moved them all into the garage in a huge cage which was outside. They were out on the grass in the cage and had sand and straw. Because of the hot days we did not board up the sides and they got the warm breezes and fresh air. The top however was closed because we did not want them getting the direct sun.

    Now they are in the garage in the same cage.

    We have kept their cage clean, fresh drinking water each day in a 5 gallon feeder and have kept their feeder always full so they never run out of feed.

    I am sure some will want to leave nasty comments but please don't. I am asking for help. This is our first try and we have done everything specified by the Coop store.

    What is wrong with these chickens?

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  2. jessif

    jessif Out Of The Brooder

    20
    1
    31
    Jan 28, 2015
    We are having some of the same issues with our Freedom Rangers. They are the brown/red supposedly more natural meat hybrid. We started with 30 and now 10 weeks later have 25. At first they grow so fast it was scary. Then they slowed down and some where very boney on the breast. So I upped the protein and now they are so out of shape they have to lay down after getting excited. I have found some painful looking skin splits and almost all are missing a lot of feathers. We ordered these because we think of the Cornish cross as 'frankenbirds' but honestly I don't like these either. Like you we are doing the best we know how to make them healthy and happy and it seems no matter what they just aren't bred to have a happy life. We also have some Delawares from whitmore farms. They are huge and grow super fast. We haven't butchered any so I can't say how that is yet but I am thinking they may make a good alternative. Just wanted to let you know you aren't the only one
     
  3. DuckyGaze

    DuckyGaze Chillin' With My Peeps

    183
    10
    86
    Apr 10, 2015
    Thank you for the reply. Now I feel better. I was never able to find that info and I felt since no one had replied that they thought I was cruel or something of the sort. I am relieved!

    We did not like to see them suffer with the skin splitting .. that looked so darn painful, that we actually got them in the freezer. We didn't wait much longer. It was just too difficult to see them like that.

    Someone in my area said it was because they grow too quickly and the skin does not have time to adjust which can well be it but I just think it is sad. They should be able to grow and fatten up without suffering. I believe that any animal raised for meat should have a good life and be well treated and even when it is time to take their lives, it needs to be quick and without cruelty.

    Not sure we will be doing this again next year. Out of the 35 we did have, only 13 made it that far. We did learn a lot about raising them this year and next year may prove to be better, IF we try raising them again.

    Do your Delawares have this problem of skin splitting? If not, I think we may try and find some next year. I just want happy birds that do not suffer.

    Thank you again.
     
  4. BarnyardChaos

    BarnyardChaos Out Of The Brooder

    12
    7
    22
    Apr 23, 2017
    Richmond, MO
    Thank you for starting this thread - I need some advice, too. This is my first time raising "Jumbo Cornish Cross" chicks --- and one of my 26 birds has developed split skin on her backside. They are 4 weeks old, purchased from Cackle Hatchery in Missouri. All have survived to this point - but one is a little runt, about half the size of the others. They were about 2-1/2 weeks old when I noticed the "runt" - and saw that she wasn't competing at the feeders. So I started separating her at feeding time, to get her fill. It works. She's now growing and getting her feathers, finally. But today I noticed a very nasty split in her skin - about 3 inches long, on her back and rump. I put some Neosporin on it, not knowing what else to do.

    As a confession, I admit I did not follow the very precise feeding schedule recommended by the hatchery. (After 2 weeks, a schedule of measured amounts of feed twice a day only, and removing the feeders at night.) They seem so ****** HUNGRY and frantic for feed all the time, I just kept the feeders full. Only a week ago did I start taking feeders away at night, but I was still overfeeding. Tomorrow morning, we start the very rigid and limited feeding schedule, verbatim. I hope it's not too late, and that I won't end up with chicks dying on us from heart attacks or becoming crippled, as the hatchery warned us could happen.

    Is the split in her skin because of overfeeding?
    Is this terminal, or is there a chance she'll recover?


    FYI - they've been raised in a brooder, indoors, so far. Yesterday, we moved them to an outdoor coop about 4'x10' with an attached run of about 200 sf. I still have a heat lamp with them, since our nights are hovering in the 40's. This is their 2nd day and night being closed in the coop, and tomorrow morning I plan to leave the door open so they can start to range in the pen.

    Another minor concern - I put some roosting bars in their coop, all about 8" off the floor. So far, none are using them. They prefer to huddle on the floor (cement, with a covering of wood chips). Is this common, and should I remove the roosts?
     
  5. BarnyardChaos

    BarnyardChaos Out Of The Brooder

    12
    7
    22
    Apr 23, 2017
    Richmond, MO
    Update - I put some Neosporin on her split skin, and in a few days it was healing up nicely. A few weeks later, it happened again - but as before, the split healed itself.

    My Cornish cross chicks never used the roosting bars at all. I took them out when the birds were 8 weeks old. They preferred to sleep on the floor, side by side, all around their coop, facing the wall. Weird!
     
  6. Lauravonsmurf

    Lauravonsmurf Chillin' With My Peeps

    1,009
    312
    206
    Apr 2, 2014
    Fair Oaks, CA
    The feeding schedule is very important for these strains. I have been researching them, as I too am kicking the idea around of trying them out and other meat birds... what I have found is that the wrong feed, or too much feed makes them unhealthy, effects weight gain to bone growth. These birds have been bred to be hungry all the time so their food must be controlled. In addition they can free range, food and water should be separated to encourage movement... they can be raised healthy... YouTube has some good videos and I am pretty sure there is an article on raising them on BYC. I know it is hard but review the feed schedule and what they are suppose to eat for their age... and follow it. They have no off switch to their eating drive, so you have to be that with these fast growing strains. Sorry I can not be more help.
     
    Fairview01 likes this.
  7. Fairview01

    Fairview01 Chillin' With My Peeps

    136
    137
    96
    Jan 26, 2017
    Dallas, TX
    These hybrid broilers are eating machines. They designed to be butchered between 6-8 weeks. Only a few make it past 10 weeks. Their feeding schedule is very rigorous if you don't want to have losses. These crosses are about as close as you can get to GMO poultry. These high maintenance needs are the reasons I chose not to raise them.

    I chose to raise the Cornish which is half of a Cornish rock cross. They are heritage birds, can be a challenge to find, are somewhat slower growing but I am in the process of creating a sustainable backyard meat flock. 12 weeks versus 8 weeks to butcher. They have 24hr feed availability and they don't gorge themselves, I throw cheap scratch 2x a day to average out the protein content of game bird feed and fill their water fount as needed. In return they sort of just hang out in the run during the day and drop fertile eggs wherever the spirit moves them to, ie, the most geographically challenging area of the coop which gives me my renewable meat flock.
     
  8. Lauravonsmurf

    Lauravonsmurf Chillin' With My Peeps

    1,009
    312
    206
    Apr 2, 2014
    Fair Oaks, CA
    I know these birds can be raised without these issues, and other issues because people have done it. They seem to have controlled the feeding, made sure the birds get exercise, and may not have maximized feed... to slow the growth a bit so muscle does not grow faster than bone. I also know they can live longer with proper care. One Jewish lady saved one in NYC from animal sacrifice, it had to go straight to the vet... it's head had been partially damaged becuase of mistreatment at farm, transport and or NYC sidewalk where the mass sacrifice in the most wasteful, industrial, and cruel way was going on. It also was sick (all the birds are these white Cornishx strains from big meat farms) it had Merks... she nursed it through all that, so she has a pet Meat Bird in a NYC flat now and it is healthy despite its age. It is unlikely there will ever be a flock in that flat to worry about contact... so happy ending for chicken. I just think if I get these you have to raise them a bit different in the BY setting and avoid them over eating.
     
  9. NJWMaine

    NJWMaine Out Of The Brooder

    22
    6
    39
    May 18, 2016
    Maine
    I'm not sure what this particular issue could be. Ive only done a couple of batches of 10-20 with no casualties. I've been lazy with processing lately and have three left that are probably 11-12 weeks old.

    They are VERY heat sensitive and need protection from this. Lots of shade and fresh water.

    I brood inside or in garage for 3 weeks, then they free range and get shut in overnight. I free feed for the first week ONLY. Then they only get fed overnight in the coop and have water available. Feeding at night encourages them to forage during the day. They are always hungry and yes I sort of feel bad, but I'd feel worse seeing leg issues or collapse. They can eat all the grass, clover, bugs and weeds they feel like. My 11-12 week olds are huge, but scratch, forage, take dirt baths and walk around the yard. They sit a lot, yes, but they are chickens and fully feathered except sparseness on the belly which is unavoidable.

    They eat a lot, they poop a lot. Lots of coop space and bedding changes is a must.

    If I couldn't free range then I would choose another type.
     
  10. AnneInTheBurbs

    AnneInTheBurbs Overrun With Chickens

    3,055
    598
    271
    Sep 8, 2013
    Bucks County, Pa
    IMG_4745.JPG

    Just wanted to chime in here. I just finished my first batch of meaties, and it went very well. I chose colored broilers from a local hatchery, which are meant to free range. I don't know that I had them on the correct protein percentage feed the whole time, but we did well.

    I only lost one in the early weeks, which I believe is common. My birds were free range, and I did not have feed out overnight because I was afraid they would grow too big too fast.

    It seems to have worked, they were butchered at almost 12 weeks, and all looked very healthy, with an average carcass of 5 lbs. I did find that several of them developed sinus infections (with a swollen eye and sneezing being the main symptoms) a few weeks ago. I was able to treat them and they made a full recovery. Here is a picture of them lounging in the grass. I good about how they were raised.
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by