Over the last few weeks my 3 silkies have been dropping off due to an illness that bears a strong resemblance to Mareks. These birds were my first chickens, and in the few months that I had them, I feel I provided adequate shelter, food, clean water, regular vitamin supplements, and medication and/or vet visits when needed.
After tonight, I will likely be down to one bird, as my rooster probably won't be around tomorrow due to his poor condition, and the one remaining bird is still eating and drinking, but she is somewhat limited in her ability to move about due to her inability to use her legs very well.
Having said all that, moving forward, what do you all recommend as far as caring for the remaining bird, and the possibility of introducing new birds into my coop? I have read that silkies are perhaps more inclined to Mareks than some other breeds. I obtained the birds through a local Craigslist ad. I would be certain they weren't vaccinated. I understand the virus can live for quite a long time in the environment, how can I acquire new birds and have some assurance that have minimized the chances they will get sick too?
Are silkies not a "beginner's chicken?" Some folks I know who keep birds have suggested a hardier bantam breed might be the way to go moving forward. I am pretty partial to silkies, I love their appearance and personalities. I keep my birds in a "garden ark" coop in a suburban backyard environment. I figured 3 birds is about the size of flock I can keep given my current setup.
Thanks in advance for any help you can offer!