This post is brought to us by our sponsor DBC Ag Products. Thank you for your sponsorship! Raising backyard chickens, or other poultry, can be a rewarding family experience, but it requires daily attention to keep your chickens healthy and to protect your family. Starting from the day you bring home your new chicks throughout the rest of their life, your birds are under constant exposure to harmful pathogens and internal parasites that can wreak havoc with their digestive system. Their digestive system is the first layer of defense against intestinal disease and a healthy digestive system is important for maintaining an active immune system, fueling structural growth as well as producing high quality eggs. Unfortunately, pathogens and parasites can have dramatic impacts on poultry health and performance. These impacts include reduced growth rates, fewer eggs produced, increased medication costs and death loss. Knowing that it is once again spring and soon baby chicks will be arriving or are at home, it is time to start thinking about how to keep your new arrivals and your current flocks healthy and happy. Since prevention is the best approach to protecting intestinal health, it is important to not only know what can cause problems in your backyard flock, but also to keep up on the latest thinking on being proactive in helping your birds battle harmful pathogens and internal parasites. What Pathogens? While there are numerous organisms that can cause just enteric disease, others can impact multiple body systems as well, including Salmonella, E. coli and clostridium. In fact, Salmonella can also impact you and your children’s health by causing illness in humans too. Not only does salmonella cause disease in your birds, they also shed the organism into the environment where other birds and even people, can become infected. According to the CDC, in 2012, there were over 400 cases of salmonella in humans (over 37% were children) that were attributed to backyard poultry raising. Focusing on improving digestive health is a key step to keeping your backyard flock and your family healthy. One of the best ways to help your flock stay healthy is to establish key management steps to prevent pathogens from causing harm in the first place. First let’s focus on potential external sources of infection. Disease can be transferred between birds and with the purchase of new chicks or new older adult birds, start by quarantining new arrivals from the rest of the flock for 4-6 weeks. This gives you plenty of time to determine if they get sick and prevent them from making your flock sick. Your backyard flock can also be exposed to pathogens via their water. While providing fresh, clean water may seem like enough, taking the extra step of sanitizing the water and waterers can eliminate unseen pathogens that could cause harm. Ask your local feed dealer or online supplier for the newly introduced Oxy E-100 to begin sanitizing your poultry’s water today. After sanitizing the water, look for all-natural supplements, that when added to water, provide a comprehensive approach to improving intestinal health. Research has shown that adding targeted proteins (to address salmonella, E. coli and clostridium), probiotics, prebiotics, enzymes and yucca to your flocks water every day can dramatically improve intestinal health and improve your birds ability to fight off harmful disease. Newly launched HealthyFlock™ Tabs includes all the above ingredients and with just one tablet in each gallon, can help target pathogens, reduce shedding of those pathogens and aid in improving intestinal health. What Internal Parasites? Internal parasites, better known as worms, can also impact not only your bird’s health and performance but can lead to an unsightly discovery in the poultry yard, coop or in worst case scenarios, the egg. Roundworms, tapeworms, thread worms, hairworms and caecal worms are the most common in backyard flocks. Anytime your birds are out on dirt (after the last frost in spring and until the first hard freeze in the fall), they are at risk for picking up a worm infestation. Currently there are no commercial dewormers that are approved for water administration in laying hens. Fortunately, now there is Zyfend™ A, an all-natural, safe, non-synthetic water supplement that has been proven successful in large organic and natural certified layer flocks at offsetting worm related issues and with no egg discard necessary, you and your family can continue to eat the eggs! Establish a routine program using Zyfend A to address worms and reduce the impact a worm infestation can have on your backyard poultry flock. In closing, a healthy digestive tract leads to healthier, happier backyard flocks. Focusing on these three areas can contribute greatly to your desire to produce healthy, wholesome food for your family and make it a rewarding experience for all. For more information on how Backyard Chicken™ products and backyard chicken raising tips, go to www.dbcagproducts.com or contact us 717-509-5724. Backyard Chicken Health Pack was developed by DBC Ag Products – specialists in innovative natural solutions designed to overcome nature’s toughest animal health challenges. We have been providing products that improve bird health, productivity, egg quality/safety and most importantly, effective salmonella control programs in commercial laying operations for over 25 years. The ingredients in Backyard Chicken Health Pack are being proven every day in millions of chicks, pullets and layers, including their organic and natural certified flocks.