DEAR NEW FARM:
I raise heritage turkeys as a hobby and possible future income.
My question, though, is about the Cornish rock broilers I
grow for my family. The chickens are raised in movable cages
(hog wire panels folded over). The problem is infection in
the joints, especially in the wings. The problem is worse
in wetter years. I want to avoid antibiotics, and the chickens
are fed a locally ground broiler mix. I am a sustainable farmer,
not an organic farmer. Any suggestions?
We asked our friend (and the guy who keeps us in free-range
chickens) Brian Moyer, and he asked his friend Jeff Mattocks
from Fertrell www.fertrell.com,
a Pennsylvania-based company specializing in organic fertilizers
and animal nutrition. (Jeff was also recently elected board
president of the American Pastured Poultry Producers Association
Here’s what Jeff had to say:
“Infections generally found
in the wings and wing joint are attributable to crowding.
When broilers at eight weeks of age do not have at least
1.5 square feet per bird, they do not have enough room to
stretch or exercise their wings correctly, thus creating
a stagnancy of blood in the wing structures.
This condition is not the same
for other joints. Infections found in the hock joint (shank
connection to the drumstick) is from the birds lying around
on poorly controlled bedding where they have extended contact
with old manure. This is known as viral arthritis.”
us with comments, suggestions and questions.