Problems with Meat Chicks?

I’m wondering if anyone else has had problems with their Red Bro meat chicks this year. Out of 100 birds, 5 have died, 2 are very small and deformed and at least 8 others have crooked toes. Very strange. I have bought the same chickens from the same breeder last year with only 2 losses. Without giving away the name of the breeder, has anyone else had this issue?

Hi, Linda

It might be rickets which goes around from time to time. The problem is often related to feed having a Vitamin D deficiency. You can give any small or deformed birds a couple of drops of baby Vitamin D which will slow the problem down but may not correct it entirely. If it is rickets, the key is to get it into all of your birds ASAP in order to prevent ones that look fine now from getting deformities. You may also be seeing hunched backs and hopping rather than walking.

Not sure that this is the problem but we’ve had it once before and were able to get past it once we’d figured out what the problem was. Much more info is available on line.

From the beginning they’ve had organic starter from Homestead which I know is a great product. Can’t imagine it wouldn’t be a complete diet. How does a vitamin D deficiency happen?


Don’t know the answer to your question as to “how” but we were using a trusted organic ration as well and heard of others who had problems using the same feed. Hope you’re able to get past your problem.

Hi Linda, sometimes can also be if your feed isn’t in a crumble. This can happen if the bigger chicks push the smaller ones around for the better grains. If it is in crumble it can help ensure that all the chickens get the same nutrients equally.

Are you buying the feed directly from homestead or from a local mill acting as a broker? If the latter then it’s possible that the starter is old, potentially having sat there all winter. If that’s the case you would be very likely to see health issues related the staleness of the feed. If not that, have you changed anything in the way your brooder is set up or did the chicks get too hot or too cold or wet or anything like that early on? Anytime my chicks have had one of those things happen to them in the first few days it’s a safe bet some will get leg problems and I’ll have higher than normal mortality.

It’s interesting. In talking with the breeder, they say it’s either the feed or the weather conditions. I realize I did change feed companies at one point so they were getting feed from two different companies but both have great reputations and I don’t think it’s that. As for weather, the breeder said this year has been bad because of the cold and the damp. My brooder is a round cage with cardboard covering and a thick layer of wood shavings on top of a cement floor. I use 3 heat lamps for 100 chicks, very close to the ground and then move up them higher as they get older. The breeder says that even though you think they are dry, with the weather being so wet, the moisture wicks through the cement floor and the air into the bedding. I do remember thinking that the bedding was getting hard really fast. And the first week they were here it was really raining! So I’m thinking that’s it. Unfortunately, I think the chick’s immune systems were also compromised and I had a rash of deaths starting at 3 weeks. Must be some kind of disease that spread, the kind where they’re droopy one day and dead the next. I’ve had them out in their chicken tractors on pasture for a week now and they are 5 weeks. I have lost about 25% of them but no sick birds in the past 2 days so I think that’s it. What an experience!

All commercial feed has to have a date stamp on either the bag or the tag so if you have the empty bags you can answer that question quickly but it is more apt to be a result of stress from the cold damp weather we experienced all spring…Dave…