Sneezing Cornish Help : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

I moved mt 3 week old cornish cross outside at 3 weeks old, had great weather for a week or two, now have snow for the last two nights.All my cornish are sneezing and coughing, they have no discharge and their poops are fine. I did start an anti-biotic (the stuff you put in their water) but they are still sneezing and coughing.They are 5 weeks old now and I don't want to lose them at this point in time, how long should I keep them on the anti-biotic? I can't slaughter them within 2 weeks of them being on the anti-biotic, but am scared to take them off it.They are still eating and drinking, but their breathing sounds awful. Is there any hope for them? I have Rhode Island pullets that show no signs of anything yet,and 25 3 day old Cornish still inside. Is there anything I am missing that I could do? These are my first meat birds, so need help.

-- Carol Koller (, April 18, 2001


I'm not sure if you have a problem. My 21 cornish cross are 3 weeks old now and they are breathing hard and wheezing at times. This is normal for these birds. They grow so fast that their body can't handle the stress. Sometimes they will just keel over and die from a heart attack or their legs will give out. The price you pay to have 4-5 lbs of chicken in 8 weeks. I use a red heat lamp, so they don't eat all night. That will help on the leg problems. I have a large enough outside area that they can run around and get some exercise, so I think that helps cut down on problems. Every year I've had these birds I say never again!...they are eating pooping machines and if I were to add up the feed costs.....I could buy fillet mignon and forget the mess!.....:-) I hope yours arn't sick.

-- Kent in WA (, April 18, 2001.

I still say the best way to brood Cornish is with a broody hen. Sneezing and coughing is not normal for any chick, but the cornish crosses are extremely susceptible to this type of illness. I raised two batches in chicken tractors, a la Salatin, and had lots of this kind of problem, with relatively high mortality. Salatin must live in a much warmer area. Now I use hens. Hens teach the babies what's good to eat, force them to run around, and give them heat whenever they need it. Never lost one baby with a hen. I've been trying to figure out how to raise a bunch of batches in the same area without the hens fighting. Still working on that one.

Also, the following are things I have heard or read many times regarding Cornish Cross: "These chickens need high protein feed to get them to grow as quickly as they can." and "These birds have lots of problems because they grow so quickly - it puts all kinds of stresses on their bodies." Does it seems like there's an obvious solution here? I use REGULAR all-purpose, non-medicated chicken feed, supplemented with scratch, goat milk, and all the bugs and grass they care to eat. I've had very happy, healthy birds that can walk and breathe just like normal chickens. And they butchered out between 3.5 and 4.5 pounds at 8 weeks, WITHOUT giblets, wing tips, necks, extra fat, or skin. That's a good-sized roaster. Makes the store-bought whole birds look little.

I don't know whether you have broody hens available for those 25 babies. One standard hen can brood about a dozen chicks. Three days is still young enough for them to adopt a new mother. If you don't know how to introduce them to the hen without getting them killed, email me and I'll tell you. If you don't have hens, I guess your stuck with brooding them yourself. All I can recommend is separating the feed and water as much as possible so they are forced to exercise themselves, put them on grass when it's dry, and if they're penned, move the pen at least once a day when the chicks are small, twice a day when they're bigger, provide plenty of heat for as long as they need it, and give them regular food to slow their growth a bit. Best of luck to you.

-- Laura Jensen (, April 24, 2001.

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