The City Girl Farmer

The Latest Train Wreck
August 5, 2010, 3:22 pm
Filed under: Chickens | Tags:


We lost eleven chicks in one day.  ELEVEN!!  I called the hatchery thinking that this last batch was the last I would order from them.  It turns out that I accidentally ordered the wrong bird.  They tell you on their website that these birds can’t handle the altitude above 5000 ft.  We’re at 6503 ft according to Google Earth.

You might be wondering why it would matter.  Well, these chickens have been bred for meat.  They gain weight as fast as possible, using as little feed as possible, for as short a time as possible.  Great idea except their internal organs, particularly their hearts can’t keep up.  So my four-day-old chicks died of heart attacks.  Ah!  The wonders of agricultural science!

I ordered 25 birds and I can expect to have zero survive.  I’m going to see if I can salvage them by putting them on a feed with a lower protein content to try to slow their growth.  We’ll see.

I was warned some time ago by a software engineer turned rancher that there was nothing like this life, but not to deceive myself.  There would be train wrecks.

5 Comments so far
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Oh no! Are there any meat birds that can handle the altitude? We’re at 7300 feet.

Comment by Paula Rutherford

Not that this is helpful, but, I have several times over the years tried these jumbo cornish X chicks without much success. I have always had what I consider an excessive death rate and I live at 1125 feet altitude.

Good luck in your cardiac emergency efforts.

Comment by pobept

Sorry, but I don’t know of any meat birds will fill your desired goal. Any of the common heavy duel purpose meat and egg birds should survive fine.

I gave up on chickens except for a few layers and went to New Zealand white rabbits. Rabbit meat will work as a chicken replacement. Any thing you can do with chicken you can do with rabbit meat.

Using 4 breeding does, outside hutches and cages, using most store bought feed and locally grown alfalfa hay my feed cost runs about $130.00 to $140.00 a year and I get about 400 pounds of fryer rabbits. I butcher mine at 6 to 6 1/2 pounds live weight.

🙂 Besides I don’t mind cleaning rabbits near as much as I dislike picking chickens.

Think positive design a coop that you can pressurize to simulate a lower altitude environment and get rich! Grinning..

Comment by pobept

Paula, I’m afraid there are no good meat breeds for our altitude. I ordered the Rock Cornish the last time and lost a third of them. The hatchery credited me for them but it’s no fun watching baby chicks die. The customer service person told me this time that they cringe sending the Rock Cornish birds. I think dual purpose birds are your best bet.
‘Pobept’, actually I feel better knowing that. Those birds are mutants. Actually, it’s probably not the low pressure, but the relative lack of oxygen stressing out their poor, little, over worked chicken hearts. We were joking about the expense of running an oxygen tank for them this morning. I think it’ll be cheaper to experiment with their food to see if we can slow their growth. 🙂

Comment by citygirlfarmer

Thanks, pobept & citygirlfarmer. My Dad actually recommended rabbits to me yesterday, and a few people have mentioned it before.

My RI Reds and speckled Sussex are doing fine for laying eggs.

cgf: have you eaten any of your chickens from the freezer? How are they?

pobept: yeah, the pressurized, extra oxygen coop sounds like a great plan. You first, and tell me how it goes! ;o)

Comment by Paula Rutherford

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