We all are enjoying all the new members to this forum. You guys rock! So manyof you are such a pleasure to get to know. With that said I have some really good advice to offer and I hope you will all heed my precautions and warnings. I know many of you are planning to pick up new chickens at some of the upcoming swaps and meets. Please read this and take to heart some very simple advice given by an experienced chicken owner. I am posting this only out of concern and the best interest of you and your chickens. When you get a new chicken(s) please do not go straight home and put them in with your current flock. Do not put them in a pen inside your existing coop. Do not house them in the same area as your current flock. Be prepared and make a place for them to live alone and away from your current flock for an extended time. If you don't have an area now then please don't get new chickens until you do have a place for them. New chickens need to be quarrantined away from your other chickens for at least 30 days. Each flock of chickens has their own germs that make them immune to certain things in their environment. Cynthia's flock in Georgia has a far different natural flora and fauna in their system than my flock up here in Virginia. That is to be expected. But Johnny Farmer down the road and Susie Sunshine a few miles farther also have flocks that are immune to different microbiology in their immediate environment. To be safe you really need to practice good biosecurity. Keep the new birds away from your flock. Do not handle the new birds and then go take care of and play with your current flock. Take care of your old flock first, wash your hands, then see to the needs of the new birds, then go wash your hands again, make sure your clothes go into the hamper or laundry and the bottoms of your shoes are clean. I have an old coat and a pair boots that I only wear to the barn. No place else will you catch me wearing them. This is not only to keep me warm while doing chores but it keeps my inner clothing covered and I don't drag alot of filth back and forth from the barns to my house. I take my shoes off outside and they have a place where they sit alone away from other things my kids might come in contact with. Periodically I do give them a spray with a disinfectant. I do try to knock off mud and stuff from the feilds before coming back to the house. have I prevented germs from spreading, probably not, but I have attempted to limit what I drag in from the barn on my boots and clothes. My kids have the same precautions, old coats, old shoes and lots of handwashing. New birds can also carry germs that you aren't immune to as well. Although it is probably not common by any stretch of the imagination there are germs that once on hands can be transfered to mouths and noses that might cause a little stomach upset. It is a good idea to make a standing set of rules that must be kept no matter how tedious they seem at the moment. Make your children wash their hands before and after handling chicks and chickens and eggs. It may be a total pain in the tuckus to go through all of this when you have all those lovely pretty birds out there just waiting to be tended and played with but there have been some very unhappy outcomes in the past by those who just bring home new chickens and put them in with the old flock or house them in a pen inside the coop. There is so much more to integrating new birds into your flock. There are members of this forum who have experienced the sad facts of life when new birds have died suddenly and spread disease throughout the flock and they have come close to loosing every chicken they have. I am not trying to scare anyone new to chickens. I am asking you to stop and think and put the very best interest of the birds first. Pets or farm livestock, they are the same. They are walking, living, breathing breeding grounds for new diseases and illness that can wipe out your entire flock. We all are great people and put the needs of our birds at the top of our priorities. For the most part we all have very healthy chickens. When those chickens are all thrown together in one big jumble we would all have some very sick chickens that would not come out the other side alive. There are some owners who have put new birds in with an old flock and not had one minutes problem. I am not saying it isnot possible. I am trying to forewarn that there are those times when that is not the case and it is a mess of sick and dying chickens and nothing much can be done when it reaches the height of catastrope. So, please - - quarrentine for 30 days. - observe for any signs of illness or disease. - practice good hygeine and wash your hands alot! - enjoy your new birds while planning how to best integrate them into the flock at the end of the quarrantine. - give new birds a supplement in their water to boost their immune system. - give them good probiotics - as simple as giving them a dish of yogurt. - you might consider giving them a little extra protein as they will be stressed being in a new place and might drop some feathers or a little weight. Please give serious consideration to these simple ways of protecting your chickens, your kids and yourself. Please anyone who has good advise that I have failed to note please do so.