All In/All Out, MS, & the state vet

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by MomMommyMamma, Dec 29, 2010.

  1. MomMommyMamma

    MomMommyMamma Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 13, 2010
    West Virginia
    I was told by the state vet that we should always practice "all in/all out" with the flock. Meaning that we never mix ages of chickens or bring new birds into the flock in any way. All new birds in, when it is time for them to go, they must all go, and then we bring in all new birds. At first I thought - "Wow. Those folks on BYC are constantly talking about mixing ages and new chicks and birds, etc. Why do they do this if it's so awful and even "dangerous". Now that I've had several weeks to let it simmer in my mind, I am more of the opinion that she was saying what she is "supposed" to say. Chickens have been domesticated for hundreds of years and it seems unlikely that farmers in days gone by practiced all in/all out. Yes? No? I know several local breeders/keepers who hatch out chicks and add them to their flock, whether it's to maintain enough for eating and eggs or just to have more.
    And while I'm on it, the state vet also had me all worked up telling me that we needed to cull our entire flock, disinfect, and then order chicks from only NPIP certified hatcheries. This due to a positive for MS (not MG). I was beside myself. I just could not believe what I was hearing. I started doing research. I found that MS is spread by wild birds, insects, etc. That unless you keep your flock in a building and their feet never touch the earth, they are quite likely to get it. Sure enough, I found several posts on here about MS being very common. I emailed 4 major hatcheries, all NPIP certified, and all four said they can not promise or guarantee that they are MS or MG free. And since it can be passed through eggs, well there is really no way to be 100% certain that you even have "clean" chicks. And of course, once they set their feet on the grass, they are susceptible. We have decided to keep our flock.
    The entire situation was very upsetting for me and I think that I am finally ready to discuss it. Curious on others thoughts and experiences.
  2. Judy

    Judy Chicken Obsessed Staff Member Premium Member

    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    My first thought was, never say never. Then, do you suppose farmers over the generations have done it this way? Of course not. They used broodies or light bulbs or heating pads to hatch and raise babies. That's still a closed flock -- until they traded roosters with the neighbor to add some new genes, or traded a few hens with a neighbor because one was overloaded with broodies and the other didn't have any, or a couple of families gave a newlywed couple a starter flock -- and so forth.

    A few months after I started this flock, before I found BYC, 2 or 3 of my girls developed crusty, draining eyes. I didn't think much of it, they acted like they felt well, and I don't really know whether any of them sneezed or whatever. It went away in a few weeks. So do mine have MS, or something similar? Probably; they were Ideal chicks, and frankly, I don't see how a large operation like that COULD be free of some of these infections.

    So the vet said, cull the flock because you have MS, and get NPIP birds. And NPIP sellers say they don't guarantee there is no MS in their birds. On top of that, you're supposed to disinfect. How? Cover all your dirt with concrete and sterilize that? What if the neighbor's dust blows onto your land? Come on, now.

    That said, quarantining new birds does seem to be the sensible thing to do. I read of one fellow who dutifully did a 30 day quarantine then added the new ones to his flock -- with the result that he culled well over 100 birds, including some turkeys and I forget what all. So he says now, do the 30 days, then add a couple of your old birds to the new ones and wait a few more weeks, in case yours are carriers. (I don't remember what the disease was.) And just about any time people on BYC talk of adding birds, someone cautions about quarantine. Also, there are a fair number on here who keep a "closed flock," meaning, they hatch their own replacements. Actually, this is what I do, though mostly because I have perfectly good chicken making machines right here, and could care less about breeding for some characteristic, or even whether they all end up being mutts or not.

    I am not up on these respiratory diseases, so perhaps my views are ignorant. I'll let this thread educate me, if so.
  3. abhaya

    abhaya Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 5, 2010
    cookeville, tn
    all in/all out is a really good way to prevent desease but for the small back yard chicken keeper of breeder not practical. we talk about biosecurity. that is quarrentine new birds at least a month to make sure they are healthy. wear shoes/boots that can be cleaned with bleach to prevent spread od anything. Many of us get day old chicks and raise them ourselves or hatch eggs so the risk of desease is low. where people can get in trouble is getting a bird and putting it in with the flock ASAP. the new bird can be a carrier of desaese and infect the entire flock. so while all in/all out is the safest way to go there are many things you can do to insure the health of your flock.
  4. Knock Kneed Hen

    Knock Kneed Hen California Dream'in Chickens

    Feb 15, 2010
    So. Cal.
    I'm curious as to why the state vet would be in contact with you. Did you contact them?

    As we all know, there is no 100% guarantee for anything. I suppose if you're running a huge hatchery for egg production for sale to the general public you'd be scrutinized but if you're flock is a backyard flock why the interest?
  5. MomMommyMamma

    MomMommyMamma Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 13, 2010
    West Virginia
    Our birds have never had any symptoms and the NPIP worker who tested them (we are NPIP certified because the certification does not deal in MG & MS) seems to have done it just because. It's not normally tested for here. I have to admit that I would probably have preferred not to know. At any rate, the vet said that the flock is "lucky" to have MS and not MG because of MG's disfiguring attributes.
    For sterilization she said that after getting rid of all of the birds (eat, bury, or burn - yes, they're safe to eat), we should clean out the coop and spray it down with 10% bleach in water and let it air out for 30 days or more (depending on the weather). We should also remove 6" of dirt from the run. Of course, this means nothing since our run is covered but only with netting - meaning wild bird droppings could get in. Interestingly, MS can be transmitted via worms and beetles - so, there you have it. There's not much point.
    My husband has actually come to be of the opinion lately that people have so many more allergies and such because we have such "clean" food. Or perhaps such "regulated" food would be better than using the word "clean". We have a local farmer who insists that he could through his plucked bird down on the ground, rinse it off and it would still be "cleaner" than a bird processed in a large factory. I don't know about all that but I do often remind myself that humans have existed, raising and eating animals, for a very long time before "clean" factory processing and "modern" farming practices.
  6. MomMommyMamma

    MomMommyMamma Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 13, 2010
    West Virginia
    Quote:The NPIP tester did the test, apparently, because I had asked if they test for it. He said "Oh yes." and that was the last of it. Then we got a letter in the mail saying that 3 of our 28 had tested positive for MS. I called the state vet to ask what that meant and what we should do. Though she gave info. that is, essentially correct, she also left out some of the "reality" common sense. I was ready to get the knife and start culling immediately. Thankfully my husband suggested that we do some research first. A lot of money is in the flock and their set-up and we have only just begun to get eggs. We also have 2 bantams that are more pets than production birds and we have chicks in the garage, so it would have been quite a big deal for our family. The main voice of reason and helpful info was a fellow local BYCer and for that, I am very appreciative.

    ETA: Editing to add that when I spoke w/ the state vet she said that the test is not usually done but that the worker that visited had done it because I said we had a sick bird. Which is not true. He now says that he put that down so that the results would come in quickly. The state vet says that he put that down so that we would not have to pay for the test. Which makes sense as that morning while he worked we had discussed my husbands recent lay-off. I still am not really sure why he decided to do the test though.
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2010
  7. WoodlandWoman

    WoodlandWoman Overrun With Chickens

    May 8, 2007
    If your chickens are just for your own use, I think it's a little different situation than if you are wanting to sell chicks or chickens to other people, too. Most people don't bother getting their flock NPIP certified, unless they're selling to other people or maybe showing. The vet's advice was probably geared towards eliminating the disease from your property, so you could start over and not be selling chicks or chickens that could spread disease to other people's flocks. The main focus of their job is basically controlling the spread of diseases.
  8. tom e

    tom e Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 13, 2010
    Ventura County
    Hey guys, what is MS and MG?
  9. BlacksheepCardigans

    BlacksheepCardigans Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 11, 2010
    Southeast NH
    Quote:What the state vet told you was the correct answer. If you want to get rid of mycoplasma, you practice all-in-all-out and you order that way from hatcheries. You order one "cohort" (birds of one age), you grow them up, you get the eggs, you slaughter the whole cohort, you disinfect, you start over. That's the right way to control it, because then even if one cohort arrives with MS or MG it can be contained within that single cohort and you only lose that one set of birds.

    So there's nothing wrong with what she said and any state vet should tell you the same thing.

    MS is spread by a lot of stuff, but not every flock - or even the majority of flocks - have it. So it's not a given. Once it's in your flock, and you get all the birds over it with antibiotics or similar, anything you bring in will get sick and have to be treated as well, but you can still eat the eggs and the meat and there's nothing wrong with keeping your birds.

    Just DO NOT sell hatching eggs or chicks or birds from your flock. Not anywhere. Not to anyone. If you decide that you want to start selling stuff, you are indeed going to have to cull and sterilize start over and then re-test for MS and MG before you can say you have a clean flock.
  10. MomMommyMamma

    MomMommyMamma Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 13, 2010
    West Virginia
    Quote:I am not sure where your statics come from, but I would be interested in reading the article(s). I have read articles suggesting that it is likely that a majority of flocks do have one or the other form, but that since they are rarely tested, it is not known. Most states do not test unless you specifically request it AND pay for it. I would imagine that the number of people with small flocks being tested is minuscule. Yet a quick look through the for sale area shows that are A LOT of eggs, chicks, and older birds being bought, sold, and traded. Since you can be NPIP certified without having your flock tested, there is no way to know that the eggs, chicks, or older birds you are getting are free of the disease.

    It's a no-brainer for us not to sell the birds. It is impossible though to know how many breeders and hatcheries are unknowingly selling eggs/birds already infected. Had we not been tested by a twist of fate, we would not have had any idea that our birds were carriers and would have been selling or giving away roosters or birds we no longer needed. I personally know a breeder who will specifically NOT have her birds tested because she does not want to know the answer. She is within the law, she has no sick birds, etc.

    Not wanting to argue, just sharing my thoughts. As I said, it was very upsetting for us and the community here is a wonderful place to share info.

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