Q&A

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?

Steve Schwanebeck
Wisconsin

 

DEAR STEVE:

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 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 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.”

NF

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