Sick cornish cross chick

Asked June 11, 2014, 12:32 AM EDT

We have 15 cornish cross chicks - about 3 weeks of age. Last night one of them was acting sluggish and wouldn't move to eat. This morning it was still in the same position. Its crop was empty and it was clear it hadn't eaten since the day before--or had anything to drink, I assume. I pulled it out of the pen and put water in front of it. It drank slowly--tiny little sips of water. Then out came a massive poop--seemed a little watery and with some intestinal lining (normal, right?) but otherwise unremarkable. It seemed to gain a little energy then but still showed absolutely no interest in food. Now, this evening, it's nearly comatose--I have it in the house. I'm assuming it's on its way out--I've read that the mortality rate with cornish cross can be up to 30%. We are being careful to not overfeed--based chart I've seen I think we're actually feeding a little less than suggested. Should I expect that this is a sign that more of the same is coming? Is there a way to tell what has caused the illness? Is it ok to eat it?


4 Responses

If this is the only one showing symptoms I wold not get overly concerned, it is always a good practice to isolate sick animals from the rest of the flock. Making a diagnosis with this little information is almost impossible, If others start to show symptoms you may want to check and see if you land grant college or State Agriculture department has a diagnostic lab service. I would not chance eating the sick bird with out knowing what it wrong with it and at 3 weeks there is not a lot to eat yet anyway. Make sure the birds are not getting to hot or cold and litter is dry. clean drinkers regularly.

Thank you. I have it isolated still... It has not improved but not worsened. Though it is not really eating much at all (a few pecks of food a few times a day), it will drink water. Its stools look normal and I'm surprised to see it is still pooping with how little food it is consuming. Any suggestions on feeding it? I feel like, after nearly three days without food that part of the problem could now be that it's weak from lack of nutrition.

That can certainly be an issue, I assume you are feeding a standard chicken starter feed.
That should be easily digested and the best thing for them. Have you checked the crop (the pouch located in the throat area above the breast) to make sure it is not impacted? You can also try adding some electrolytes to the drinking water most feed stores carry some brand of powdered electrolytes and minerals that can help boost energy.

Thanks for your help. She didn't make it. All the other birds seem to be doing very well, though. I'll keep your suggestions in mind for the future. (her crop was empty by the second day so I'm not sure what it was--weak heart or some other issue?)