Butchered first chicken-fluid in body cavity OK?

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My husband and I are quite new to the world of chickens. We are currently raising Cornish x Rocks. I don't know that we will ever choose this breed again. They have had a lot of leg problems(they are getting enough protein and electrolytes) and some of them just up and die for no apparent reason. They are about 7 weeks old now, so in order to cut our losses, we have been watching them closely, and when one looks like it is failing, we grab it and butcher it right away. Last night we there was one that looked very, very listless, so my husband let me try my hand at skinning it. I did a rotten job(practice will help), but when I cut open the body cavity, a lot, and I mean a REAL lot of fluid came out. Is this OK? Normal? Can we still eat this chicken? If not, it's OK. We'd rather be safe than sorry! Thank you, Jennifer

-- Jennifer Lehman (djlehman@interl.net), December 30, 2001


They die of heartattacks cause they grow so fast,They also have severe leg problems after awhile.Not worth the problems,the bladder may have busted while dressing causing the excess fluid.

-- David R In TN. (srimmer@earthlink.net), December 30, 2001.

Birds don't have bladders.

-- Don Armstrong (darmst@yahoo.com.au), December 31, 2001.

I've read that you need to remove their feed in the evening so they are not eating all the time,it is suppose to help prevent heart attacks and bad legs, from putting on weight to fast.

-- Dave (duckthis1@maqs.net), December 31, 2001.

This list is used when one wants to find out what their chook died from. It might also help when you're butchering:

Postmortem Findings

-- ~Rogo (rogo2020@yahoo.com), December 31, 2001.

I am not sure about the liquid but as far as the leg problems go it is usually because people feed them chick starter instead of broiler crumbles. The extra protein in the starter causes too much growth so that their legs don't keep up with the weight thus they become crippled. I learned this lesson first hand.

Steve NH

-- Steve Carder (stevecarder@hotmail.com), December 31, 2001.

Just curious, Steve, I don't raise Cornish. What percentage is your Chick Starter? Mine is 17%.

-- ~Rogo (rogo2020@yahoo.com), December 31, 2001.

Hi Jennifer, Yep, like they have said, just fast growth. I was reading somewhere that they expect a certain percent to die from heart attacks at the factory, or they are not feeding enough. Leg problems are very common in that breed. You could switch to a dual purpose bird, like we have. Orpingtons, Australorps, etc. however, they have more meat on legs and smaller breasts than the Cornish Rock(still bigger than the small chickens though). It is worth it to me, since they can breed, etc. (Cornish can get to big to do so effectively) Best way to learn is by doing it! :o) It gets easier! Do not give them free access to feed. You could also make them work for it by sprinkling some around. Just hang in there. Much better to raise your own and know what you have fed them and what they are dunked in.! ;o)

-- notnow (notnow@blabla.com), December 31, 2001.

So do you think it's OK to eat this chicken? Thank you for all the feedback. I do feel better knowing that this problem is not just ours! Jennifer

-- Jennifer Lehman (djlehman@interl.net), December 31, 2001.

Hi Jennifer. We raised the Cornish/Rock cross a couple of times, and don't anymore because of the leg problems, heart attacks, etc. due to their fast growth. We did receive some advice that helped. We always use broiler crumbles because of no antibiotics, etc. Do not full feed - feed early in the day, then remove feed in early evening. They are expected to be butchered between 6 and 8 weeks. Trying to keep them around longer results in natural(unnatural) deaths as their inner organs can't support the body size. For strictly meat birds, please try red broilers, or brown or black broilers. We have much better success with those. I've run into the fluid inside problem when butchering before. We did use the birds and had no problems, but I'm sure no expert.

-- Dianne Wood (woodgoat@pacifier.com), December 31, 2001.

I'm not an expert, either, but I toss the ones with fluid. Just doesn't look right.

-- mary (marylgarcia@aol.com), December 31, 2001.

I agree with Mary. We throw those birds away as well. Most of the time they are smaller, sickly birds.


-- Robert Todd Scarborough (toddscarborough@hotmail.com), January 01, 2002.

We are in the "take the food away at night" club. On the first batch we raised we didn't do that and had problems. We have had five batches of 50 birds since then with minimal problems. Although we used to butcher them ourselves, off the farm jobs now dictate that we send them out. There is an Amish family that will do them for $1.00 per bird. They do a super job too. They always comment on how healthy our birds are. Drop of the birds, and five coolers with ice in the morning, in the early afternoon, we pick up the coolers full of fresh chickens. We eat some fresh, and vacuum seal the rest for the freezer. This weekend we are doing three in the slow smoker.

-- Rickstir (rpowell@email.ccis.edu), January 02, 2002.

Jennifer: We have raised CornishX chickens for 3 years now and I'm still getting surprises! We take our chickens to the neighbours who have a small abbatoir and do a great job. If there are any "mushy" birds they mark them and I feed them to our dogs. With this breed, you always get a few problems because they grow so fast. I know there are the "dual purpose" breeds out there, but they will not give you those big, tender breasts and so much meat for so little time. We pasture ours and butcher in 9 weeks and did over 280 chickens last year. If you want to sell roasters too, the Cornish X is the best. For an excellent reference book, see Joel Salatin's Pastured Poultry Profits. Don't become discouraged and do accept that you will lose some of every batch. We think they are worth it. You are welcome to e-mail me for advise and support. I think this breed needs support groups!

-- Kathy (homefarmbc@pacificcoast.net), January 05, 2002.

Thank you all so much for your advice and help. I makes me feel a whole LOT better to know that what we have experienced is "normal"! We butchered all of them on Saturday. They were nice big birds, I have to say that. But my husband cut his finger badly while we were doing the butchering(to get out of the work?)and my sister took him to the emergency room where he got nine stitches. I was left with all the chickens to do myself, so I did what any gal would do-I called my dad. He had quite a bit of helpful advice about raising these birds too. He said not to keep them confined. Do you all let your Cornish x Rock roam around? Maybe we will try them again, to see if we can do better next time. Kathy-I will keep your e-mail address. Thank you-I may need to ask for help again! Jennifer

-- Jennifer Lehman (djlehman@interl.net), January 07, 2002.

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