General Chicken Maintenance

QHGirl

In the Brooder
Apr 3, 2015
32
2
36
Warba, MN
Good morning,

I am a newby with my first flock being just six weeks old. My DH is outside building the coop as I write this post.

Would someone please share with me their annual chicken health maintenance plan with me? I'm seeing bits and pieces of de-worming, nail clipping, etc but nothing comprehensive. What do I need to do and when? Also, what should I be doing healthwise in the growth stage they are in? Now that they are toddlers do they need anything specific?

Thanks for your help.

S.
 

Ridgerunner

Crossing the Road
12 Years
Feb 2, 2009
27,290
20,142
907
Southeast Louisiana
Different people do different things based on their knowledge and personal experience. Some people set up a semi-annual worming process, some annual. Some only treat for worms when they see a problem. I butcher my own chickens pretty regularly, that’s why I have them. When I butcher them I always check in the guts for worms. I’ve never seen a worm in there so I have never treated for worms. If I had ever seen a worm I’d probably do things differently.

It’s similar for mites or lice. Some people treat on a regular basis whether they see any or not. Some only treat when they see a problem. I check mine regularly for mites and lice and have never seen any since I moved here in 2007 so mine have never been treated for mite or lice.

My approach to helping them stay healthy is to strengthen their immune system by exposing them to their environment at a very early age. I do not give them any supplements or use any medications unless I see a specific problem. For my brooder raised chicks I put dirt from the run into the brooder for them to eat, starting about day 2. That introduces grit, any probiotics the adults have, plus gets them working on building up flock immunities they will need when they meet the flock. I don’t vaccinate for anything either but I’ve never had anything in my flock I’d need to vaccinate against. Allowing them to strengthen their immune system has worked well for me so far but something could happen tomorrow to change that. When or if my experiences change I’ll adjust as I see fit.

Others take a different approach, trying to raise them in a sterile environment, feeding them all kinds of stuff, fermenting feed, adding vinegar to their water, and who knows what else. If that works for them fine, but I just have not found a need for any of that.
 

Folly's place

Enabler
9 Years
Sep 13, 2011
22,979
37,562
1,096
southern Michigan
I tend to manage a lot like RR; I have both chicks hatched here under broody hens, and outside chicks, vaccinated for Marek's disease if at all possible. I feed Flock Raiser to young birds, and the whole flock, until all the chicks are laying, the they get Layena. They free range unless there's a lot of snow, or hawk attacks, and get some scraps a scratch feed. I started using Ivermectin a few years ago, 2x annually, for worms and external parasites. I spread some permethrin or carbaryl in the coop when it's cleaned out, maybe 3x annually. One of my old hens (she's eight) needs nail trimming, but never had anyone else with that problem. Beak trimming hasn't happened here, and I would cull to avoid that issue. If a bird gets sick, I want to know why, and every one will get posted to identify the problem. I'm very careful about biosecurity; no showing, no returned birds, and only chicks from safe sources come here. Prevention is the best cure, and predator protection the most difficult issue, IMO. Complicated feeding plans are a waste of time and tend to unbalance the diet and produce more problems, as far as I've seen. Pick breeds that tend to do well in your climate, and that look like fun! Mary
 

Blooie

Team Spina Bifida
6 Years
Feb 25, 2014
17,197
32,579
827
Northwestern Wyoming
My Coop
My Coop
I'm also big on letting nature do the work for me. My chicks are brooded outside in the run. They have never known a heat lamp. They are exposed to all the same things that surround the Bigs from day one. I put dirt in their brooder on those rare occasions when they start out in the house for few days. Dust baths with good old garden dirt. The best preventative maintenance is observation and common sense. Relax, you'll do fine! And if you do run into a problem of some kind, you can bet someone else has run across the same thing and you'll find a thread to help you.
 

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