Survival rate for meat chickens

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by NS2A, Oct 4, 2007.

  1. NS2A

    NS2A Songster

    Jun 11, 2007
    I am looking at getting these cornish chickens for meat birds in the spring:

    I was thinking 2 runs. The first 25 chicks, then if it goes good, 100 chicks

    Now I hear things like you loose 1/3 before butchering. Is that right? Is it that high? So out of my first 25 chicks, only 16 would make it to the table?

    Now Welp says to restrict feed daily - to only feed them from 7am-7pm to cut down on flip, but can I still expect to loose 1/3?
  2. joshchickens

    joshchickens In the Brooder

    Sep 29, 2007
    hey no ive been raising meat birds for awile now and i never had one die on me yet. they will if you dont feed them the right feed ect... since they get big, you want there legs to be healthy. I fed mine a high protein diet. It worked for me:)
  3. greyfields

    greyfields Crowing

    Mar 15, 2007
    Washington State
    I lose 25% to 33% on Cornish Crosses, regardless of where they come from. If you are getting them in the Spring, and it turns out to be a damp one, then expect severe losses and for coccidiosis to strike very hard. I'm getting around the mortality issue (it really affects the bottom line) by breeding my own meat chickens and using different commercial breeds better suited for organic production.
  4. homesteader

    homesteader In the Brooder

    Jul 25, 2007
    I fed mine the high protein feed I was supposed to and a lot still developed leg problems. I've lost 7 out of 21 so far. I'm butchering them all this weekend since they reached 8 weeks old yesterday. One developed a leg problem at about 4 weeks and one developed leg problems at 7 weeks. I seperated them both from the flock to prevent them from getting trampled. They are both still alive and can kind of work their way over to the food and water. The one developed the leg problem at 4 weeks doesn't seem to have grown much, and is dwarfed by the other that went lame at 7 weeks. Oh well. It will be good for chicken stock and a little bit of breast meat.

    I was bummed by the amount of chickens I lost. My wife might not be up for doing it again. I'm willing to try it one more time.
  5. I have never lost 25% in a batch, my personal worst it 12% and most were murdered by a broody layer hen that got in their pen. Managment of them is an issue for sure. In hot weather I feed only at night as digestion creates lots of heat so they are more stressed. Leave them with lots of cool running (if you can) water in the day. In cold weather it makes sense to have feed available to them at night and I have tried batches with night feed then too and it works. Thing is they need a low level of light so they can eat and drink, harder to do out in a tractor. Depending on the time of year they might have enough time till dark if you fed at dinner time, then have leftovers for breakfast before the heat of the day.

    I don't have Cocci issues and don't feed medicated feed, regardless of the weather. The trick to that I learned from an old time farmer, give them milk. If you have cows like he did then milk half and half with water in the morning, what they would drink in an hour or so, or like me add powdered milk to thier feed, about a cup per 3 to 4 gallon bucket of feed again just once a day. How I do that with many chicks is to put that in the feeders in the morning then top the feeders up with straight feed. You kinda have an idea what will take them a few hours to eat so go with that amount as mixed.
  6. greyfields

    greyfields Crowing

    Mar 15, 2007
    Washington State
    The issue with leg problems isn't entirely protein related. A study I read showed that increasing the calcium (and phosphorous) content in broiler feed largely prevented. Of course, those are not the cheapest ingredients so it's unlikely feed makers will be adding extra any time soon. So, supplementing bone meal is a great way around the problem. Not that I've ever had it; because I supplement with bone meal. [​IMG]

    Regarding coccidiossis. It's with great pain I have to say that all the books you read which state there are ways to avoid it with good management and naturalopathic means are full of fairy tales. I have discuss with great length with the poultry specialist at our Ag University here, it comes down to three facts:

    1) If you do not have coccidiossis in your flock, it is because coccidiossis doesn't thrive in your climate. Hot summers and cold winters kill the oocysts. In wet, coastal Washington, it rarely snows and never gets hot. The oocysts prevail in our soils for decades, just waiting to infect the next beast to come along. Pasture rotation is meaningless for coccidiossis, since it isn't winter killed here (as it is east of the Cascades or up in BC).

    2) People who claim to eliminate coccidiossis with pasture rotation and probiotics almost universally live in climates where coccidiossis does not thrive. It's a self fulfilling prophecy. I do give mine live culture yogurt, which makes me feel proactive. But there is scant evidence it affects the mortality rate on the chickens, but hey, at least I tried. Again it's a self-fulfilling prophecy.

    3) The only true prevention is to allow your birds to die when they get it, then breed the ones who shrugged-off cocci without so much as a hiccup. Accept these losses, get out of the habit of buying day-olds from far away hatcheries, and you will create a very coccidiossis resistant flock in very few generations. Medicated feeds and Allupirinol upset nature's way by allowing weaker birds to survive; which unfortunately then propagate their genes into the breeding pool.

    In conclusion, give your birds some tough love.

    I was very very upset with my initial loss (I processed 12 cornish x's out of 30); until I realized I was doing better than a lot of people in my area pasturing meat birds. That's when I consulted the University and he put my head on straight for me. I did feel bad like I was a screw-up doing everything wrong; but then I remember the days as a teenager packing chickens from the farms onto 18 wheelers to go off and be slaughtered. Those wretched things had such a miserable existence, that I didn't even eat chicken for over a decade. It makes me proud for what I am doing here, even with initial high mortality, because it beats the alternatives. Buying chicken at Safeway propagates the screwed-up system in which chickens are so poorly valued.
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2007
  7. silkiechicken

    silkiechicken Staff PhD

    Quote:Yeah, mine all get tough love.. "NO more baby light for you!" as 15 6-week old birds look at me in desperation in the middle of our cold weather with highs in the 50's and lows in the 40's.

    I got cocci once and it was due to brooding the chicks out side during that one hot summer we had, and then the sudden rain storm that revived up all the occci. 3 days of amprol and they were all better. I still have one of thoes girls and she lays like none other. Turned all the boys into soup. 3 months old, about 1.5 each dressed.
  8. Sorry but I spent 12 years on the very wet west coast of BC and I can tell you I did get cocci regularly but never so bad as to kill anything after I started using milk powder. Yes it is a fact of life, even here in the interior, just less so. If your birds come down with cocci give them the milk powder half and half with the feed for 3 days and they are over it generally with no losses at all. They still seem to do well unlike the birds that get over it with amprolium who never seem to gain weight well afterward.

    As for breeding I totally agree with you on that, I don't keep any of my heritage breeds that come down with it. Layer breeds even I'm against treating now too. I just do it for the meat birds as I never keep any of them, they just don't winter here. By using milk I keep them natural so I'm not concerned with the meat.

    I also totally agree with you on the meat quality. That's why I do this, it's just how it has to be now that I have seen what goes into commercial chicken.

    All I'm saying is that you do not have to accept those losses, I sure would not, not at that rate or even near. Milk powder will also provide your birds calcium so maybe that is why I was not having leg issues before. I fed milk for less time this time due to being in the dry interior. Hmmmmm.....
  9. silkiechicken

    silkiechicken Staff PhD

    Oh, about the roo's... they got cocci just two weeks before I said enough of them and butchered them all. I got my sticky fingers on some production production leghorns... and they are TINY! Lay HUGE eggs though.

    My year old leghorn dressed out at just about 3 lbs...maybe that is normal though.

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