Friday, October 5, 2012

Cornish Cross Meat Chickens - Week 5

So maybe I'm not as diligent as anticipated in getting photos and posting in a timely manner.  There won't be any more promises made at this point, since life seems to get in the way of everything that needs to be done.  Priorities?  Another post another time.  Back to the topic at hand, meat chickens at five weeks old.

OK, last time, the pictures were from four weeks, and the post was late.  This time, both the pictures and the post are late.  These pictures were taken Wednesday evening, which technically was a day short of six weeks of the hatch date on these chicks, although we didn't get them until later that week.

Everything that was read online about the Cornish Cross chickens is that they have a 10-15% mortality rate while raising the chickens.  We had been fortunate at receiving 132, having two DOA (Dead On Arrival), and then losing three in the first couple weeks.  Not counting the two that were DOA, that is only a 2.3% mortality rate, which is really good.  Unfortunately, things aren't holding so well.

Earlier this week we had a hot spell into the upper 80's, with humidity.  It wasn't pretty, and one of the coops ran out of water before I got home from work.  One chicken was not looking good, and died that night.  Shovel in hand, out to the woods, and bury the dead chicken.  A bit of lime over the chicken to help it decompose and to keep the dogs from digging it up.

Wednesday evening, after pulling one of the chicken tractors forward, the Middle Son declared that one was left behind.  After questioning, I found out that it wasn't so much left behind as it was dead and didn't move while the tractor did.  Shovel in hand, and back to the woods.

Thursday evening, our local beekeeping club had their monthly meeting that I had planned to attend, so Scott did the evening watering and feeding.  Calling on my way home, there were two more down.  One was found dead, and the other was culled.  Asking about what he did with the dead chickens, Scott said he walked towards the woods and chucked them in there.  So much for the shovel method.

The chicken that was culled had a problem with its leg and wasn't moving or able to get to the food and water.  We had been setting it next to the waterer and putting food in front of it, but the other chickens had been walking on it and it hadn't been growing.  No sense wasting food on a chicken that wasn't going to get to size.

With the seven total that have died, we are now up to 5.3% mortality.  Higher than we had with the Red Rangers this spring.  Apparently in all the reading online, people forgot to mention WHEN the chickens had died.  At this rate we may hit the average rate of 10-15% by the time butcher day comes around on October 13th.

However, the chickens that are alive are getting big.  They are growing day by day.

The picture above makes the chickens look like monsters with their glowing eyes from the flash.  Unfortunately I remembered to take the pictures of them too late in the day and it was starting to get dark.  Hopefully the rest will hold on for the remaining week and a half so we can do the job rather than nature doing the job for us.

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