We had no idea how lucky we had been, with the previous two rounds of chicks that we had raised through the brooder, until this past week when we lost 2 of our Cornish Cross chicks.

The first was never able to stand up very well on its own, and each day it seemed to get a little worse, so I made the decision to cull it. Culling is the identification and removal of a bird from your flock due to health issues or lack of production (this is more the case for laying hens). It’s not easy for me to take a life, and especially not one of something so young, but in the end, the bird (we called it Stumbles) would not have survived anyway.

The second loss was a bird that I happened to notice acting strange immediately I finished taking care of the previous one, it kept walking around in circles then would stand in the corner with its head straight up and chirp. Later that night I found it still alive but laid out like it was dead. I separated it from the rest of the birds for observation, and after a couple of days I realized it was likely a disorder known as Wry Neck, which can be caused by a vitamin deficiency, so I began to feed it water with some vitamin supplements through a syringe, but after a few days of nursing the chick still died.

With the loss of these two chicks we currently have a 10% mortality rate, but with the original birds missing from our order our flock of Cornish Cross that was supposed to be 20 birds is down to 15 which is roughly half capacity.

Feed, Water, Bedding, Repeat

Fortunately, the other 18 chicks (15 Cornish Cross, and 3 Ameraucana) seem to be doing just fine, eating, growing, and of course, pooping…a lot. Taking care of them is pretty routine:

  • Clean and fill the feeders
  • Clean and fill water
  • Check each chick for any obvious issues
  • Add Clean shavings if needed.

It may be hard to tell from these images, but the chicks grow fast, and are probably double the size they were last week…which means they are going to start eating, and pooping a lot more.

Brooder Updates

Another thing that is slightly different with this round of chicks is that they seem to be “digging” a lot more. As I add shavings to the brooder, to cover poop, or absorb spilled water, they continually kick it all up and fill up their feed and water with shavings in the process. I have to clean their feed and water 2x per day, so I raised their water a bit to help prevent this and will be switching to a new larger feeder that stands a little taller as well. I also purchased a few Wireless Sensor Tags to monitor temperature and humidity; I highly recommend them.

What’s coming next

The Cornish Cross birds only have about one more week in the brooder before I’ll be moving them out onto the grass, so in this upcoming week I will be getting the chicken tractor ready for them, and making sure I have their feeders and waterers read to go or their weeks on grass.

That’s it for week 2, and here’s to hoping week 3 is uneventful.