Do we interfere/worry too much these days?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by HollyWoozle, Sep 18, 2018.

  1. HollyWoozle

    HollyWoozle Chirping

    Jun 12, 2018
    United Kingdom
    Just pondering really... my family have had chickens since well before my time. My grandparents kept chickens primarily for eggs but also for the pot and usually had between 20 - 30 at a time as far as I recall. My uncle took over when they passed away and then my parents took over his chickens when he lost a bit of interest (they are neighbours).

    Whilst I have always played a part in taking care of the family chickens, I didn't have a particularly active role until I got some some ex-battery hens in June this year. They are kept separate to my parents' chickens at the moment, as they are still quite bald, but in the same coop (it has a dividing wall) and with a fenced run within the main run. Since being responsible for these chickens I have been heavily involved in caring for the main flock as well and find myself increasingly busy with taking care of them. I sometimes lie awake at night wondering how better to control mites, whether or not the chickens are cold/hot, how to prevent/heal wounds, what to feed, whether the coop is acceptable and so on. In this time I have attempted to treat sour crop, trimmed our cockerel's spurs and claws, treated the chickens/coops with various mite treatments, installed new perches, changed the bedding we use, added more feeders/waterers, purchased cleaning solutions, filled dust baths, hand-fed sick hens and so on. I have basically spent a lot of time worrying and fiddling, although I think most on here would consider that sort of thing to be standard management/maintenance.

    My question really is do I actually make a difference in terms of the health and wellbeing of the flock? Of course I like to think so (which is why I do it!) but my grandfather never once did any of the above as far as I know. The coops were smothered in creosote, nesting boxes were stuffed with old hay. I don't remember ever seeing a sick or injured hen, they were all beautifully feathered and seemed healthy, cockerels were never separated or had bits trimmed, they never had vitamins added to their water and I highly doubt they were wormed. The eggs were always excellent. Perhaps he just culled/ate any chickens which weren't up to it anymore?

    I often wonder whether he would be proud and happy that I keep chickens too but to be honest he'd probably think I was totally bonkers doing half of what I do! :idunno
  2. 123RedBeard

    123RedBeard Crowing

    Oct 20, 2014
    Do you mean molly coddle? Yup, probably ...

    We also do the same for us humans ... with the "advancement" of modern medicine ... we seem to live longer ...

    Since we get attached to small backyard flocks, we tend to "go the extra mile" to "help" them ... when in the past they may have either died on their own at a very early age, or culled as they couldn't provide for the farmer ...

    My personal thought on the matter, is that we don't do the breed any favors, "IF" we help along a weak bird, that can't keep up on its own, and then breed it, passing this genetic trait along, and since many people do go to lots of trouble to keep weaker birds around, we see things like cross beak, blind, deformed wings, egg bound type problems ... of course these things can also come from inbreeding to close to the family tree ... but that also creates weak critters ...
  3. AudieWarren

    AudieWarren Songster

    May 17, 2018
    Free ranging in Ga
    I am right thee with you! Granted my family never had chickens while I was growing up, but I've had them for over a year. I often lay in bed wondering about my flock. It seems we coddle them too much at times. How in earth did they ever survive this long without our help!?! They are more resilient than we give them credit for. I've actually stepped back and let them be chickens. I make sure they have plenty food and water and a clean coop for roosting, but that's it. They free range and forage and keep my grass green.
  4. wyoDreamer

    wyoDreamer Crowing

    Nov 10, 2010
    NE Wisconsin
    A lot of todays chickens are more pets than livestock. But we have also bred a lot of the heartiness out of the chicken by focusing on specific "traits" that we want. Extreme example - silkies.
    I want to get some heritage breed chickens, and try to make a "self-sustaining" flock that will work for my place and my chicken keeping tendencies. I need to work on their free-range area first though, we don't have many places for a chicken to run and hide if a predator comes along.
  5. roosterhavoc

    roosterhavoc Free Ranging

    Jan 5, 2012
    Imo most backyard flocks are only a little bit better than battery hens. Everyone confines them because of predators. The reality is if you keep chickens catching and killing predators is part of the game. Chickens do best when allowed to free range as much as possible. An hour or two a day ain’t cutting it. Chickens getting Bumblefoot all the time is a direct result of confinement jumping up and down on hard compacted soil along with bacteria build up. Anyone who keeps birds penned after 3 days of heavy rain just think if they would be better off in the grass or in slop?
    Ducks penned up is a disaster for most.
    The few basics of treating birds for lice/mites, keeping coops dry with fresh bedding, dry food and clean water is all that’s needed.
    Treating all kinds of birds for vitamin deficiency and then breeding them just results in weaker birds. There’s always the rare instance when antibiotics can help an otherwise healthy bird but seems to me people load them up with all kinds of crazy stuff. The majority of herbal, medicinal, magic in a bottle is just a joke. Half the products marketed for chickens is designed for the BYC member. It’s all ridiculously overpriced. All you have to do is compare ingredients and you’ll learn real fast the profit margin on chicken products.
    It’s easy to keep up with some regimen of adding straw to messy pens after bad weather but most rarely continue with the same enthusiasm after a few years.
    Too much help is definitely hurting chickens in the long run. Obviously there is extreme weather conditions but for the majority of us birds can handle the heat pretty well with plenty of water and shade. They can be rained on, snowed on etc.. as long as they can be kept dry in their coops with plenty of fresh air regardless of temp most do fine. Full grown hens do not need heat lamps in temps -10 or so and above.
  6. sawilliams

    sawilliams Songster

    Nov 12, 2015
    Nor Cal
    Everyone had to do what they feel is best for thier chickens. It sounds to me like you might be questioning not if you need to do so much but if you are stretching yourself too thin with worry and care.

    Fact is there is a lot you are doing thatyou dont have to do, but all of it still increase thier quality of life. Making sure nests are clean incourages nest use and clean eggs, finding the proper feed helps with egg quality as well as quantity. Triming nails spurs and even beakes helps to make life easier and more comfortable for the chickens, and hand feeding an ill chicken certainly makes us all feel good when they pull through.

    But the truth is yes your grandfather asks even for uncle probably took a much more carefree approach. Knowing, chickens will eventually die and not making a fuss over illness or injury.

    If toy are feeling a bit over whelmed I would suggest taking a step back. What do you need to do and what can you let be?

    I clean nests when they are dirty, I clean the coop when I feel it needs or it starts getting smelly. I don't tend sick chickens but will seperate them with feed and water incase they can pull though on thier own. I don't trim nails but I provide treats over concrete to incourage scratching. I haven't dealt with spurs or beaks. I did blow dry a wet chicken recently to try to prevent death by shock after she fell in the dogs pool. And I have wrapped and tendon a slipped tendon on a baby chick. But I have also had to ask my husband to cull a chicken after its ability to recover went down hill from an injury despite my help. I've dusted chickens treated leg mites, sprayed the coop. But everything I do I question, do they really need this? Is it helping the flock as a whole, or is it worth the effort for just 1 chicken? Will the task cause me stress?

    Do change nests, do clean the coop, do treat for mites and worms as you need too. Do try to help a chicken that might need it. But don't stress about what if, and dont feel bad if you choose to not asisist understanding what might happen if you don't. Your doing great.
  7. wyoDreamer

    wyoDreamer Crowing

    Nov 10, 2010
    NE Wisconsin
  8. HollyWoozle

    HollyWoozle Chirping

    Jun 12, 2018
    United Kingdom
    These are great responses - thanks so much! I try to find a balance between keeping things simple but offering a good standard of care. I am a worrier by nature though and am disheartened by issues within the flock, wondering if I am doing the best for them or if I have somehow made things worse.

    Really helpful to hear all your opinions. :)
    Perris, HeyHo, Chick-N-Fun and 5 others like this.
  9. Eggs82

    Eggs82 Chirping

    Apr 25, 2018
    Mechanicsville, VA
    Got a neighbor who raises chickens and does nothing more than feed, water and collect eggs. Chicken gets sick, it dies. Predator gets a few. He goes and buys more. They free range 24/7 and he really doesn’t loose that many. He also gets the occasional batch of chicks that show up randomly from the woods or behind the shed or something. Not really my style but to each his own I guess. My flock free ranges 24/7 but I also look after them as much as possible.
  10. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Crowing

    Nov 12, 2009
    western South Dakota
    I think that some people get an unrealistic expectation of a chicken life, and feel guilty if they do not live long lives. If you don't want all those problems, cull your flock each year, and add young birds each year. Younger birds tend to be healthier birds.

    I feed, water, collect eggs, manage bedding a couple of times a year. I do have a coop/run, and predators and I have an ongoing battle. I have never given any medicine to a bird.
    Doc7, Aceoky, FunOnABun and 7 others like this.

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