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Discussion in 'General breed discussions & FAQ' started by hellbender, Dec 27, 2013.
I think it was Walt that was telling me once that he had to treat his chicks for coccidia prevention because it's too rampant in the soils where he lives and, that if he didn't, he wouldn't have one bird that would live. I'm wondering if these regional perceptions have something to do with how people handle a proposed threat, such as more of a certain kind of parasite and disease threat due to a hot and humid climate as opposed to someone in the northern climates having to deal more with other types of health issues, but less with those found in a southern or western region.
It's sort of like the cold virus being more prevalent in colder climes because it is encased in a lipid layer that is preserved well in cooler air, thus surviving longer on surfaces and being more easily transmitted in this way. Folks down south just don't have to deal with colds as frequently, so they have not been over medicated for them as people in the north have been....which makes the northern folks even more susceptible to getting the cold viruses. It's a vicious cycle.
If someone treats his flocks as a matter of course in order for them to even survive but someone from a northern climate doesn't do that because the threat is not as real there, then one could perceive that the northern flock has a more hardy constitution because it is able to survive without the aid of medication. That flock may be allowed to form antibodies to various diseases due to low level exposure and antibodies work far better than antibiotics and have a longer lived existence and memory.
In reality, as each generation is medicated for a specific pathogen with the same medication each time, the pathogen is developing a healthier flock of drug resistant offspring, making it even more and more necessary for the flock owner to medicate with stronger and/or different types of drugs to help his flock handle the threat...they just can't form antibodies fast enough to keep up, nor are they even allowed to form antibodies, as medication is the first line of defense. The same goes for parasites, with each generation getting more and more resistant to anthelmintics.
If a large proportion of the flock owners in that region have learned this same behavior to handle the diseases and parasites in their area, then one could say that their flocks/herds have not developed a resistance to disease and parasites, but the diseases and parasites have developed a healthy resistance to the drugs, requiring flocks to be treated more and with stronger drugs. I can't tell you how many times I've been told by folks down south that they HAVE to treat their flocks for coccidia or they all die. I've been told the same thing by southern farmers who keep sheep...that their sheep have to be treated for internal parasites or they will die. It seems to be the general consensus in some areas that their animals will not thrive without chemical assistance.
This seems to be something that has been drilled into them as they got into this or that type of farm animal and are being mentored by more experienced farmers or reading publications addressing these issues in their region. It's very rare nowadays to find farmers breeding and managing flocks and herds with an eye towards disease and parasite resistance in these areas, though it does happen.
Unfortunately, the more a farmer assists his animals instead of breeding and culling for disease/parasite resistant animals, the more they weaken them.
Send that same animal north to a flock or herd that are managed differently because the threat is lower and the first time that animal hits even a low level exposure to disease, they may succumb to it because they have not developed antibodies for it.
I can definitely see where one could start thinking southern flocks may have a weaker immune system, especially if they have experienced this phenomenon first hand.
I think feeling the bird for meat is a pretty good way to decide if its ready to butcher, wouldn't want to butcher one too early and scrawny just to save a few dollars, or someone says your supposed to butcher at so many weeks. Sure I'm all for breeding for production, but each bird and each breed has its limits, especially when you figure the time necessary to breed one 'better'. If it was all about the money and production the only breeds of chickens left would be the CornishX and White Leghorns, the rest would be extinct by now. I ignore the cost, I don't think I spent a lot they ate a lot of free food and were around 16weeks avg. 3.5lbs (with the little polish roos figured in), had a few 4.2lbs. If it was only about the cost or production, I'd continue buying mine at the store, usually .99cents a lb for whole chicken.
Thank you for your answers! I'll be growing out many of my birds for roughly a year in order to determine which will be the best breeders, but I've already decided that one little NN cockerel will go since he has feathered shanks and I simply don't want to risk the perpetuation of that gene in future generations. I've also eliminated two pullets as breeders for the same tendency, though if they're good egg layers I'll still keep them around to add to the egg supply. Being so new to all of this, the culling process is something "down the road", but not that far down. I'm just trying to get an idea of when and how to know that these pre-determined culls will be ready for butchering, so...again, thank you.
You missed the point entirely. I can't think of a better way to say it, so I am not going to bother. It was not about you anyways.
I think the only thing it is based on is perception based on an experience or two. If anything at all. You know how that stuff gets floating around. Heck my Catalanas came from Peru. They went to Pa., and then here. Very vigorous and sharp birds. I would take them over any bird I ever owned. Peru is pretty far south to me.
Coccidia builds up on a space, and there are many strains. If any number of birds are kept on the same ground any length of time, and then new birds are brought it, some will be especially susceptible . Some will not be, and some will be. That is true for all of the parasites, bacteria, etc. If I brought some stuff in, north or south, I could blame it on the region. Rarely is anyone as frank as Walt, and call it for what it is. I will concede that these populations build up faster in the long growing seasons, and mild winters. That boils down to management though, and that can go either way.
There is always risk with bringing in stock, as you pointed out. That risk can be to the established flock, or to the new birds. No one has a sterile poultry yard. A bird can seemingly not do as well though there is no obvious sign of disease. Or they can succumb to disease the existing birds can tolerate. It is just that they have never been exposed to such and such. Like you mentioned, it can be exasperated by the use of antibiotics. Again that can go both ways. North to south, and south to north, or even the other way.
The diseases that we worry about are chronic communicable diseases, and they are every where. They are spread from bird to bird. The trade of birds is nationwide, and the wild birds migrate.
I agree with much of what has been said. I just would not attach regions to it. I would consider it flock by flock, and not region to region.
Oh most definitely a good idea not to use those... leg feathering is HARD to totally clean out after it's been crossed in. There are three or four? main genes for leg feathering, some of them have variable expression and at least one is recessive. It does take strict culling and large numbers plus generation turnover to get it cleaned up.
I have a friend that will be trying this cross, actually.
I am still back at the beginning here, with acquiring and evaluating stock. I am therefore at the stage where we eat the scrawny cull cockerels, because there is no decent quantity of meat on them. I am not breeding the scrawny ones. As for the rooster comment ... he has some meaty drumsticks and a nice round breast, so he will breed for a couple years.
As for performance: waste, I think it may depend on the goal in mind. An occasional nice tender young fryer or broiler is one thing, but my ultimate goal is a wonderfully large succulent capon for one of the holidays.
Your criticisms are constructive, so please don't think anyone is trying to quiet you. In fact, I appreciate when you question or challenge me, as it makes me think things through in a more thorough manner. My goal is still true dual purpose GLWs who lay decent, grow out decent for the table, and look like they are supposed to look. I just happen to truly love how they are supposed to look! Oh, I have found a couple old Wyandotte standards from early 20th century to read, back when they were utility as well as pretty, and they are supposed to be fluffy-feathered.
That reminds me. https://archive.org/stream/wyandottestandar00nour_0#page/38/mode/2up Book dedicated to just the Wyandottes, IIRC published in 1917. I went Googling big time yesterday, and found a few interesting things.
Okay...this discussion really has me thinking (thanks for waking up my brain!).... One of my neighbors keeps chickens for eggs and replaces them every 2 years. He and his wife cornered my husband the other morning to confirm that we are now keeping chickens as well and to strongly, emphatically explained that we MUST replace our flock every 2 years to avoid illness in the flock. I don't agree with that...at all. It makes no sense to me. As I understand it, replacing a flock consistently every 1-2 years was more about maintaining high egg production than about maintaining a healthy environment. That said, it seems to me that the best way to minimize disease is via aggressive culling of infected and weak birds and breeding of strong ones while keeping the environment "clean"....not sterile, but clean. Everything you've discussed above seems to reinforce my perception...and add to it. That said, I do have a question....Is it necessary or even essential to move a flock to a different location after keeping them in a particular area after a span of time? I'm not talking about cleaning, disinfecting and cleaning coops...but referencing the runs where my chickens spend their days. I try to provide a minimum of 10 sq. feet of "run space" per bird since I can't just let them run free in my yard. Does the ground need to "rest" at some point? And if so, for how long?