I'm a new member to BYC, though I am very familiar with the site. I've read it many times and I have appreciated the wealth of information.
So I have a question here that's a bit different - - I think. Can chickens contract Tularemia from eating dead rabbits, or for that matter, any dead rodent? Let me explain....
My family and I bought some acreage in northern Colorado, not too far from the Wyoming border. It's rugged and beautiful, and we're doing all we can to be proper stewards of the land and such. That includes trying to find our own balance with nature, and right now "nature" also means a ton of rabbits! They're multiplying....well, like rabbits!
Tularemia is a big deal around these parts, and here's where the chickens factor in. My son and I have been building a massive chicken coop we dubbed "Fort Clux." The area that is screened in top and sides is 2000 sq feet, and that does not count the shed part. It's built very stout to deter the other elements of nature we have a lot of: coyote, cougar, and bobcat. We plan on having 50 hens (Rhode Island Reds). A portion of this coop is designed to hold about 8 guinea fowl, and they will have their own entrance and separate shed. We need the guineas to wander around the property and keep down the rodents and rattlesnakes, both of which we also have a lot of. Paradise to be sure!
A friend suggested I keep the rabbit population down with a .22 and then toss them to the chickens. My son likes the idea, especially the first part, but I'm worried about the second part. First, will the chickens even touch the freshly-killed rabbits, and if they do, will they contract Tularemia if the rabbit had it, or will they pass this on in the eggs?
Sorry for the long post here, but I would really appreciate any counsel the experts out there can provide. I cannot find any information on this. When "Fort Clux" is done, I'll take pictures of it and post it here.
Thanks - STEVE