Leg problems in heavy fast growing chickens.....

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Two weeks ago I purchased Jumbo Cornish Game Hen Crosses as chicks. I noticed that one of them has a bad leg and limps around. I have them on vitamins that get added to their water and let their feed run out late in the evening - 2 suggestions that I read about that helps prevent leg problems. Is there any thing I can do to avoid them in the future??? Since the chicken with the bad leg is happy enough, eating, limping around and doing chicken things should I just let her be until its time to butcher her?

Thanks, Anita

-- anita holton (anitaholton@mindspring.com), September 05, 2001


Make sure you are feeding broiler grower food, not laying chick food. These big birds need the extra protein in the broiler grower to keep their legs strong. Extra sources of iron (liver, ragweed seeds) can help too. We've let our crippled birds grow until they are no longer able to get about, then fried chicken is on the menu! Deborah

-- Deborah (jlawton@kaltelnet.net), September 05, 2001.

Be sure that you raise their food and water dishes as they grow. This forces those lazy birds to stand and walk around. Otherwise they will literally lay by the feeders and waterers, usually resulting in splayed legs.

-- Lisa in WI (lehman16NOSPAM@vbe.com), September 05, 2001.

There are things that can be done to help prevent leg trouble in very heavy breeds and the best advice on feeding has already been offered here by another poster. However, it is a fact that most of the trouble comes from the sheer weight of the bird, its legs were not designed to carry so much wweight. You see the same thing in dairy cows today, bred to the point of death for milk production that their bodies were never intended to deal with. Thus, antibiotics by the barrel, cortisone and other drugs that can never cure the problem completely because it is unnatural for a cow to give so much milk. It is unnatural for chickens to carry so much weight. I would get a smaller breed where the problem does not exist so rampantly. If you need a large bird, get turkeeys or geese. Their legs were designed to carry considerable weight. Godo luck!

-- Gordon Crump (hermit@duo-county.com), September 05, 2001.

Anita, The cornish/rock cross chicks need a higher protein chick feed than the regular chicks. This is due to their incredible rate of growth. You can get the higher protein chick feed at most coops and at the big discount feed stores too. If they don't have it they can order it for you. Otherwise you will continue to get chickens with leg problems. good luck

-- Karen Mauk (kansasgoats@iwon.com), September 05, 2001.

A few years ago I raised some white cornish cross chickens. Quite a few started to have severe mobility problems, some to the point of not being able to stand. They were getting lots of protien in their food, that didn't seem to be the problem. I had read that a magnesium deficiency could cause such problems. I had some lime on hand that had a high magnesium content (lots of calcium too, obviously) so I tried adding this lime to their feed. The problem cleared up totally within a week or two. They all regained normal mobility and remained in this condition until they were slaughtered, even our largest (abnormally large, even for this breed) bird. I'd be interested to hear if this works for anyone else.

-- Garth Morgan (gmorgan@gci.net), September 06, 2001.

Anita, I had the same problem with my first ever batch of Cornish Cross. I had read in Joel Salatins book to feed raw liver, it worked a treat. About once a week or when needed I fed raw liver and it fixed all leg problems. I just used to cut it up with scissors and throw it in. Be prepared for a frenzy, they go wild over it.

-- Carol K (ckoller@netsync.net), September 06, 2001.

No one mentioned what they are being raised on .You want something no slippery and not a large wholed mesh .I used hardware cloth with hay covering it .That way it can dry and liquids can pass but they also have a soft stable support for there feet .

-- Patty {NY State} (fodfarms@slic.com), September 06, 2001.

All I heard from people about my meat birds was that to watch out because they'll go off their legs. I let them range and not a single bird had legs troubles. And oh the flavor!!!

-- Alison in N.S. (aproteau@istar.ca), September 06, 2001.

Been doing this for years, Anita! Listen to Old Uncle Brad. Use 22% (protein) broiler feed. BUT, either let the feed run out, or remove the feeder in late afternoon, say 6 pm hereabouts (Maine). Plan for 2 hours before dusk. Reintroduce the feed in the morning (about 1 - 2 hours after dawn) when you do morning chores (6? 7? 8? - not later than 8). Keep water available always. This may take you a week or so longer to raise them to the size you want, but the feed cost will likely be LESS per pound. Works for me! GL!

-- Brad (homefixer@SacoRiver.net), September 06, 2001.

Back to the subject of whether the chicks are on paper. When we called the hatchery about the bad legs, they asked if we had them on paper. They told us that, as brand new chicks, as they try to scurry around, they slide and slip on the paper and pull/tear something (forget what) in their leg. They say never to put them on paper or slippery surface and the leg problems will not develope.

Seemed a little far fetched to us, but they sure stood their ground.

-- homestead2 (homestead@localnetplus.com), September 06, 2001.

I'm raising my first 50 and my last 50!!!! These chickens are so ugly, lazy and discusting. They wheeze like they cant breath,they don't have enough sence to get out of the rain. I've fed them as I should and they are getting really fat, but I couldn't eat one if I had to! Thank God I have other REAL chickens, that there whole makeup hasn't been tampered with. But good luck with yours. I expect I'll feed mine to the hogs!

-- carolyn dees (blossom_in_ky@yahoo.com), September 08, 2001.

I agree with Brad--reduce the time that food is available. I have had more success using a slower-growing cross. We have Red Cornish Crosses available here that work well for me, but they take about two weeks longer to mature. Mortality in the Reds has been zero for me.

-- Don Hepler (dhepler@gci.net), September 08, 2001.

Oh, Carolyn, are you a fellow hater of Chickenstein? Just guessing here, may be going waaaaaaaay out on a limb. >:D

What breed of "real" birds are you raising? I'm partial to Buff Orps myself ...

-- Sojourner (notime4@summer.spam), September 09, 2001.

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