Cornish Cross Meat Chickens Dying Suddenly at 3 Weeks Old

Asked May 9, 2013, 9:18 AM EDT

We are raising a batch of 100 Cornish Cross meat chickens for our family and friends. We have done this for several years with good results. This year the chicks were doing great until just after they turned 3 weeks old this Monday. Yesterday morning my brother found a dead chick on one side of our divided 8 x 16 brooder in our garage. We thought it was just a random death, but then he saw another chick having trouble walking. That chick died before midmorning, and we lost 4 more before the day ended! This morning there were 3 more dead chicks, and a fourth died later. That is 10 dead chicks within 24 hours!

The strange thing is that all the dead chicks have been from the same side of the brooder box. They looked healthy and were a good size for their age. There are no obvious symptoms—the chicks seemed to just suddenly have trouble walking, as though their legs were slightly paralyzed or their muscles were cramping. Then they usually would sit down normally, seem to go to sleep, and die! Could it be a strange virus? They were eating the same food and everything as the other half of the brooder. Why only one side?

We try to keep everything organic and natural, so we just gave them some chopped garlic in their water as a natural antibiotic. I was considering trying to mix a little oregano oil into their food. The sick ones don't seem to want to eat much though.

Lapeer County Michigan

3 Responses

You need to give me a call tomorrow morning (517-775-0485) to discuss. Please take the dead chicks and put them in the refrigerator.

We have already disposed of the first chicks, but I have saved the four from this morning in a plastic grocery bag in the fridge. What time would be a good time to call you tomorrow morning?

Try me around 9:15 tomorrow.