Difficult moral decision: culling chicks for biosecurity

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by 3peeps, Sep 11, 2008.

  1. 3peeps

    3peeps Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 4, 2007
    I never thought I'd be the type to be writing this kind of question, but I've been reading through all the warnings on this site and now I'm wondering about the safety of my grown flock.

    I have 9 chicks, maybe 3-4 weeks old, in isolation in my husband's indoor shop. I picked them up from an unnamed petting zoo on September 6th. When I got them home and put them in the brooder, I noticed bloody poops within an hour. So I scoured this site and decided to start with Corid. As of yesterday, day four (?), there were still a few suspicious looking poops. One chick's feathers are not growing in well, and he's awfully tired looking. He along with one other are pretty small...could be age, but it seems more like failure to thrive. The one with the strange feathers seems to breath faster than the others, as well.

    Now, some of you may consider me a total dumb*ss for even picking these chicks up in the first place. I probably am.

    I made some observations at the petting zoo that didn't exactly register as dangerous when I was there, but after reading everyone's problems here, I'm concerned. The place was pretty clean, but the chicks were kept in a stall right next to adult turkeys. Any problems there? Guinea hens were in a neighboring stall.

    The adult chickens were kept across the yard. Most looked healthy, but one had many feathers missing off of her neck. Once again, my dumb*ss brain bypassed this obviously strange warning. Maybe it was because I had just seen some hens with feather damage from breeding in the next stall.

    I had picked up these chicks with the intention of keeping maybe two layers and using the rest for meat birds. Now I am not sure I even want to take that risk. I hate the idea of picking up chicks, looking at their little lives and then deciding to cull them. At least becoming a layer has honor, as does providing meat. Although, I'm sure many would be culled anyway from this petting zoo...you don't just hatch tons of chicks every summer for families to oggle at and then expect all of them to go on to happy chicken-y lives. It's just a sad fact. (He does this with other animals too....cats, especially.) I'm sort of mad at myself for supporting that concept by picking up chicks, but that's another thread entirely and there are probably many points of view to be had. Sorry to offend anyone, if I have.

    What are your points of view on culling chicks who are possibly sick...even though you may not have all the answers...in order to preserve your own flock? It seems awful, but then again, I really like my grown flock. Although I accept full responsibility for being dumb enough to pick the birds up to begin with, part of me feels like I shouldn't have to deal with this petting zoo's illnesses.

    If I do keep them, I know I need to quarantine for a month. What constitutes a good quarantine? How much distance do I put between the chicks and the adults? 20 feet? 40 feet?

    Thanks for reading if you've gotten this far, and thanks even more if you respond.
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2008
  2. TubbyChicken

    TubbyChicken Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 30, 2008
    I'm no expert on biosecurity...but I have spent a great deal of time recently researching cocci and various other chicken ailments.

    If the bloody poo is from cocci then culling would be unnecessary if they are otherwise recovering since your own flock is likely exposed to it from the soil and wild birds anyway. From my understanding, cocci generally becomes a problem when chickens are very young, stressed or have a compromised immune system. Your flock shouldn't be at great risk for this.

    I would keep them quarantined for a month and then move forward if you've seen no other signs of illness. I don't think culling is the answer here. At the very least you could attempt to rehome them somewhere who may not yet have an existing flock or who may be willing to seperate them until they've served their purpose...

    Lastly, don't beat yourself up for choices that have already been made. None of what you said sounds terribly alarming. I understand regretting the decision to sponsor his business allowing him to exploit these animals but what's done is done...you have the opportunity now to offer these birds a good home, or to try to find one for them.

    This is my very novice opinion...I hope this all works out for you and the chickies.
  3. Jenski

    Jenski Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 17, 2008
    Middle Tennessee
    I personally would continue with the quarantine and see how it goes. I feel that the "feet of distance" is not quite as important as the nature of the air circulation between your existing flock and the new chicks - - i.e., sitting across the yard from each other is not as good as in the shop where you have them.

    Chicks by nature have a lower life expectancy than adult chickens, and problems like coccidiosis are a good example. Treat that as best you can, and know that the healthiest chicks will reach adulthood and probably be fit additions to your flock.

    Enjoy your new chicks, and don't sweat it too much. Sounds like you're already taking all appropriate actions to ensure things go well. Good luck! [​IMG]
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2008
  4. 3peeps

    3peeps Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 4, 2007

    Thanks Tubby and Jenski...I've decided to progress with everyone in a huge brooder in the basement. I appreciate your responses and hope to post pics of the brooder soon in the coop and run section.

    Only three weeks of quarantine left!

  5. BayCityBabe

    BayCityBabe Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 1, 2008
    You need to medicate these birds. Is this part of your plan?
  6. HennyPennies2007

    HennyPennies2007 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 26, 2008
    Hey 3 Peeps

    I can't believe that you posted this... I have been wrestling with this very same thing. Last weekend I bought 20 or so chicks/chickens from an auction. I had immediate health problems as well... I think it's just the nature of the auction scene. Any way I stuck them in a brooder in my garage. I also have a flock of 20 laying hens. So I started researching the site of course... What do I do? there are folks who cull for biosecurity at the drop of a hat. So I went out with the intent of chopping off heads. But then there are folks who medicate and try to keep things going. Since I didn't chop off heads... I guess I am one of the latter. I have medications up the wazzoo, and clean y waterers out with bleach every day and bust my tail for my hennies. I have friends who have them in a pasture and if the weather or the coyotes get them... oh well. Seems like they don't worry as much and their hens do ok... Meanwhile I'm up with the flashlight at night checking to make sure hens are warm and happy, and the coop door is locked up tight. It's all a crapshoot...some just stay in the game longer. Don't give yourself an ulcer (like me!). I am medicating and quarantining and hoping for the best. You are not alone in your dumb *ssery! And you just encouraged my soul.
  7. 3peeps

    3peeps Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 4, 2007
    As of today, actually, they've been on 8 days of Corid. I chose to do an extra day because I moved them to a new brooder yesterday and anticipated some stress.

    So, yes.

    I chose to start with the Corid, then observe, and follow up with Sulmet(?) if the coccidia returns.

    Any other suggestions?
  8. 3peeps

    3peeps Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 4, 2007
    Quote:LOL! I knew I wasn't totally alone, but still...

    Glad to hear you are encouraged. Keep up the good work!

    I should ask what illnesses you've had to treat and what medications you chose.
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2008
  9. speckledhen

    speckledhen Intentional Solitude Premium Member

    Good to alternate cocci meds, so you're good there, peeps. One thing you should not do is use antibiotics like Tylan to treat anything respiratory during quarantine. You want the symptoms to come to the surface so you can see what they have, if anything. So, if you mask those by treating, that defeats the purpose of quarantine. Cocci doesn't make them carriers for life like many diseases that affect poultry do. Even then, some do not treat cocci, therein trying to keep only resistant birds to strengthen their flock, overall.
  10. 3peeps

    3peeps Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 4, 2007
    Thanks, Speckledhen. I have sort of thought those things myself...I wanted to treat the cocci because they had bloody poops and knew they'd probably all drop like flies if I didn't. However, after this, I'm sort of thinking I'll let the fittest survive. As of now, one is looking mighty tired and the feathers just aren't coming in well.

    Quite a few barred rocks, too...right up your alley.

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