Frequently Asked Questions:

1.  Why aren’t my chicks growing?
Slow growth, cannibalism, and crooked legs all stem back to a nutritional deficiency. If you are not following our feed guidelines then you may have these problems. Make sure to provide adequate feeder space and do not scrimp on feed or supplement. Provide clean, coarse wheat straw or soft wood shavings.  If any other bedding has been used give the birds approximately 1 tablespoon of cooking molasses per 1 gallon of water (enough to turn the water light brownish) for 1 day only. This will unplug the bird’s gizzard as it’s like a natural laxative. Be sure to prevent overheating, overcrowding or any stress.
2.  Why are my birds picking?
Cannibalism is caused by stress of some sort.  Change in weather can cause poultry to start to pick. If picking begins in the first 4 weeks (still on chick starter) it will probably be because of overheating, overcrowding, a drafty building or bright lights.   To remedy, make the chicks as comfortable as possible.  Make the room very dark, add more feeders to eliminate competition, and add  Stress Aid or Electrolytes to the water.  If it happens after they are over 4 weeks of age and you have switched to your own grains, it will be a nutritional deficiency.  Grain lacks several essential vitamins and minerals that is why we recommend feeding a poultry grower supplement or a complete ration.
Cannibalism in laying hens is most commonly vent picking or eating the eggs.   The remedy is to follow our nutritional guidelines and add a stress pack to the water.
3. Why is my flock sickly looking?
Colds or CRD can cause droopy wings, loose droppings, wheezing, or a general sickly look.  A cold means they need medicine immediately, so add some Terramycin to the water.  This is a prescription drug, so you will have to contact your local vet for this.  If birds are still brooding, take a temperature of coldest place in the building that your birds have access to and give us a call. If there is higher than normal mortality phone our head office and someone will try to help you.  Even if it’s after the busy season, leave a message on the machine. We always try to help, for your success is our success.
4.  Why do they have leg problems?
This problem will most always happen in the Cornish Cross Giant.  Studies show that flocks raised to nine weeks of age will almost always have 3% of the birds with leg problems.  Birds raised to heavier weights will likely have a higher percentage, perhaps 5%.  So as small producers we deal with more leg problems.  The best prevention is to follow our feed and husbandry guidelines.  For example, if you turn the lights off (not the heat source) then the birds cannot eat 24 hours a day, like they are bred to do.  Spread the feeders and waterers apart so they have to walk to each and get some exercise.  Have a run for them outside once they are old enough.  Make sure you eviscerate them on time and don’t let them grow too big for their bodies.  You can start to butcher at 10 weeks of age, depending on what size you require.
5.  Other problems.
Coccidiosis is common in small flocks.  This is a parasite that is found in the litter.  It is especially common in a wet, cool spring or wet litter in your barn.   You will probably notice bloody droppings.  Prevention is by use of medicated chick starters and supplements.  If you have a break you will need to contact your local Vet to get treatment.  If coccidiosis goes untreated it will destroy the whole flock. Once you have a cocci break you must use Amprol or another coccistat to control it. Some feed contains Alltech technology to mitigate the risk of coccidiosis. We do recommend you contact you feed agents to discuss your needs in your particular area.  E. coli. is a bacteria found almost everywhere and becomes a problem when conditions are unclean. It will be best detected by a poultry specialist through tests. If a flock is being rotated year after year, with no clean up practices in between,  you will probably get e. coli.  Barns and runs need to be cleaned out between flocks.
6. What is ascites?
Ascites is a condition not a disease.  It presents as a distended abdomen that may be filled with fluid.  There is often muscle congestion and an enlarged heart on post mortem.  One or both lungs may be congested and watery.  It is caused from lack of oxygen, phosphorus, vitamin E and selenium deficiencies and/or high levels of salt in water or diet.   Prevention again would be by following our guidelines to managing your poultry.
Following proper procedures when raising your birds will provide you with a beautiful, finished, healthy, farm-grown bird.  Poultry grower supplements will only add to your productivity and enhance your flock.  Supplements contains the vitamins and minerals that grain will not provide.

Feather Sexing 

A Pullet                                                                   A Cockerel

Other suggestions for managing a small poultry flock:
Care-Management-Nutritional Guidelines for Cornish Giants
1.  Clean and Disinfect – Thoroughly clean and disinfect your brooder house, rearing house and equipment.  This will guard against disease carry over from flock to flock.  Cover the floor of the brooder house with clean, coarse wheat straw.   Add straw every few days to maintain a clean, spongy mass for the birds.   Never use newspaper, sand, gravel or horticultural peat moss.  Do not clean out the straw for 5 weeks.  If there is a very wet area (mucky) of litter you may clean it out, but a portion of the original litter must remain.  The reason being, the coccidiosis medicine and litter work together to vaccinate chicks against coccidiosis.
2.  Brooding – Make sure the room is free of drafts.  Baby chicks need the area at 95ºF both under the brooder and in all areas they have access to. Started chicks need it to be at a room temperature of 75ºF.  The most common source of heat is a heat lamp or gas brooder.  A single-lamp brooder will provide up to 100 baby chicks adequate heat in a reasonably draft free building.  If the chicks are comfortable they will form a circle under the lamp and make soft cheeping noises.   Cold birds will huddle and pile, and make sharp noises.  Hot birds will crowd as far from the lamps as possible. Also see care of chicks
3. Floor space – The first 3 weeks of life your chicks will need 1/2 square foot per chick.   From then until 8 weeks 1 square foot per chick will do.  After that you will need 2 square feet per bird.  1000 Cornish Giants = 2000 square foot building.  Do not include the run outside in the square foot amount.
4.  Water – To start baby chicks use a vitamin pack in the water for 3-5 days.  Use 3 one gallon founts to start 100 baby chicks.  Allow 3 eight gallon waterers for 100 birds.  If   automatic waterers are used you will need 2 per 100 birds.
5.  Feed – To start baby chicks you will need small trough feeders.  Or you can use egg flats or box tops for the first week.  You will then need 4 fifty pound feeders per 100 birds.  This will give the birds adequate amount of space to feed and eliminate competition.
6.  Lighting – For the first 24 hours allow continuous light from red bulbs.   After this, light should be reduced to 8 hours per day to help reduce stress.
7.  Ventilation – Ventilation supplies the oxygen that the birds need to maintain good health and grow properly.  Air inlets and fans are needed to provide fresh air and remove carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and ammonia.  Provide adequate air movement to maintain comfort and good litter conditions.

Eggs in trays and ready to go into incubators in the morning      – Eggs in incubators ready to start.