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
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 http://apppa.org).
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
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.