How do you major breeders do it? Keeping flocks safe from outbreaks

Bocktobery 10

Songster
9 Years
Oct 8, 2010
731
288
221
My apologies, this is long and more of a personal chat.

I was gifted a hen out of the blue nearly two months ago. I did the quarantine thing for a month. Dewormed her, watched her. She seemed fine. T’was a little bit on the quiet side but not unusual for a lone young hen to whom everything was now all new and unfamiliar.

The first odd thing was she immediately got sick. I had just lost a hen the day previous before she showed up and so was assuming whatever it was it must’ve been in the air and with her being stressed from the new digs, I figured this was what was going around. None of my other birds got sick. Just her. And it cleared quite quickly after a round of Duramyacin 10. I thought problem solved. Waited a a few weeks (for her to get her strength back from being sick) and then proceeded to deworm her... so glad I did, she had more than a few varieties. Retreated her with the wormers 10 days later as prescribed. She seemed fine. Laying eggs. Still in the quiet side, as in seemed inactive, less sprightly but her breed is new to me, I just assumed it’s all good.

So at the end of the extended quarantine time I decided it was safe to put her with my flock. None of the birds would have her. She ended up in a far corner away from everyone each day (it was 3 days total I tried...I know not long enough for her to fit in but I noticed she wasn’t eating or drinking at all each day. My thoughts were that she was just having a hard time fitting in but I’d have to make sure she’s eating again. I brought her back into quarantine to rethink on things or potentially find her a new home, then Thanksgiving week came about and I was distracted. I kept noticing, she wasn’t eating. And after Thanksgiving when I had the time again to attend to her more closely I noticed she really was thin, ...and lethargic...and now not interested in eating at all.

I took her into the vet. Right away she also noted the thinness and that she has a heart murmur. She also noted perhaps feeling something hard in the abdomen but couldn’t place exactly where. The vet felt given her age (she’s not even a year yet) and the murmur that it’s most likely a genetic defect but spoke to me that it could be something viral and bad such as Newcastle’s disease, though she speculated that it did not appear as such. I got some Tylan with vitamins in it to give her, but chances are she’s not going to make it....


Don’t get me wrong, I do hope she recovers and I’m still doing my best to make sure she’s getting tube/hand fed and her meds, but I’m FREAKING OUT inside thinking I had her with my healthy sweet flock and all the “what if’s” are going through my mind. ...like what if this is avian flu, what if this is super viral? What if my flock is going to be obliterated by introducing her.... I’m not exactly panicked, but I am upset and wondering how other chicken owners cope with this? The threat of having your hard work just wiped out within a small amount of time... how do you do this?

I want to note, none of my other chickens (“knock on wood”) are showing any signs of illness. It’s been almost two weeks since she was in there with them. About how long would it take if it was viral and deadly? I do know with chicken illnesses, it’s almost impossible to know exactly what is going on without blood tests or other tests. I am hoping that the vet is correct that this is most likely a genetic defect, but seriously, how do you as a dedicated chicken flock owner cope with these threats hanging over your head? I would suppose you can just start again, but if you’ve tried to raise a good flock for breeding.. it’s like all that care and work is gone in a flash, not to mention the personal attachment to the birds themselves. I’ve been chicken keeping for nearly 10 years and have been fortunate enough to not have really bad calamities effect my flock, but there’s been a lot of trial and error and stress....it’s gotten to the point where I’m thinking, this sucks!!!!

I’ve always tried my best to make sure my flock got the best care. I spend extra $$$ on products to keep them healthy and to have what they need, good feed, medications, treatments, strong fencing, extra spaces...etc. and I truly believe that extra effort has managed to give benefits. I understand these issues like these fast spreading diseases are why most people don’t put in the extra money into it, but how do good breeders do this without going, well... *postal* :barnie:he:hit:fl:idunno:hmm Also, with diseases being so hap-hazard, how does any breeder keep a clean flock disease free forever? It seems like a ticking time bomb, or do people just sell anyway?!!!

I suppose I’ve been doing what needs to be done all along, but I’m wondering if there’s some sort of nuggets of information I’m missing that would make chicken keeping less stressful...or is this always what it’s going to be like? I sort of thought all these passing years of experience would soften the stress, but I think I’m finding because I know what’s actually out there I’ve only become more stressed!!

Any advices or chit chat I would be grateful for. Anyone else feel this way? Thank you kindly for letting me express. I love this website and owe a lot to everyone here contributing. <3 <3 <3
 

CluckNDoodle

Crowing
Jan 12, 2019
1,879
5,527
392
Georgia
I'm sooo sorry this happened and I really hope it's nothing contagious to your flock! It sounds like you're doing everything, plus some!

When I personally started my chicken adventure I was "sort of" careful when introducing new chickens to my flock but I have since becoming so careful that I have pretty much decided I'll never bring another chicken into my flock that I didn't hatch myself. (I also really love having a hand in the entire process of my chicken's lives. From hatching out of the egg, to laying their first egg!)
So now I buy hatching eggs for any breeds I'm interested in and hatch my own chicks. The chances of health issues being introduced by this method is a lot lower. There is no 100% fool proof method, I just do what I can within my means and I still think my healthy flock is somewhst attributed to luck, lol.

I've had friends laugh at me when I tell them I've gone straight home from their farm and tossed all of my clothes into the laundry and cleaned my shoes before going near my flock because I just don't know what I've come in contact with elsewhere. I also sell chicks that I hatch so there's a big part of my over the top precaution because I can know absolutely for sure that I'm giving healthy chicks to people. Even though I believe my flock is healthy, I will wash my hands between handling indoor chicks and outdoor ones.

With all of that being said, I am someone that also treats my little flock as pets and I'm still not completely sure how I would handle a serious outbreak if it were to happen. Try not to stress about it too much! I like to think that a healthy flock is also far more likely to have stronger immune systems and I hope yours are just fine!
 

Folly's place

Crossing the Road
8 Years
Sep 13, 2011
17,123
21,945
906
southern Michigan
I've been lucky, and paranoid about biosecurity, and again, lucky.
There are no nearby chicken keepers here, so nobody bringing in 'random source' birds to infect my flock.
I NEVER bring in birds from any other flock. EVER. I buy chicks from reputable hatcheries, and have them vaccinated against Marek's disease there.
I hatch chicks here, and those chicks aren't vaccinated. If Marek's hits my flock, some of those unvaccinated birds will get sick first, and I'll know.
I necropsy every bird who dies here unless there's a clear reason (as predation). The one time I wondered if a chick had Marek's, I paid for the lab testing (and it wasn't!).
If I visit an auction, or a poultry show, everything I wore goes immediately into the washer, including shoes. Paranoia!
If a sick songbird shows up, all birds are on lockdown, all birdfeeders cleaned and removed, and neighbors do the same. So far no Mycoplasma here either, another disaster so far avoided.
Your new sick bird hopefully has some illness all her own, and nothing contagious. For your peace of mind, have that necropsy done if she does die. Having information is always better than guessing, treating with drugs that aren't helpful for the problem, and generally flailing around getting nowhere.
Mary
 

Mrs. K

Free Ranging
10 Years
Nov 12, 2009
7,320
7,085
536
western South Dakota
If you have a valuable flock, and of course, value is what you place on it. But professional breeders have more at stake. More time into breeding, more money into genetics. Most of them do take bio security quite seriously, and do not let people visit their flocks, or take in birds.

Mine is my hobby. I think we all have to know what we can live with. Sometimes I think people with great sensibilities should not get chickens. They can be a heartache.

Personally, I keep a flock. Birds come in and come out of the flock. I am not a worrier. So I don't worry about my chickens either. To me, healthy looks healthy, I don't worry about them.

I have had birds die just as you describe. Either as chicks just a day or two old, and it is called failure to thrive. But I have also had chickens, just as they are about to be full size just be dead. An old time chicken keeper told me, that if there is a genetic weakness, as the body approaches full size, it cannot keep up, and the bird will die. Made sense to me.

I don't feel sorry for birds. If I think one is sick, I dispatch it. I don't want to separate it from the flock, and I have never medicated a bird. I don't want that kind of flock. Mine get good food, live with a good coop and run, and plenty of sunshine and fresh air. Makes for healthy birds. I have only had to cull one bird in years of keeping chickens.

I have added birds, but only from other flocks that are kept much like my own, not showed or birds from a swap. I would never take a bird I feel sorry for.

To each their own way of doing things.

Mrs K
 

Bocktobery 10

Songster
9 Years
Oct 8, 2010
731
288
221
Thank you everyone for responding. I can hear a lot of myself in what you had to say. I was nodding my head yes to so much. I appreciate it so much.

Sadly, the sick hen passed last night and I found today one of my Seramas, a broody hen is now yellow skinned and gurgling. She’s got energy still, so hopefully perhaps I caught this early and this is more of a case of silly broody hen over-doing it and catching something, .....but yeah, who am I kidding, this is not good. I brought her inside and got some meds and vitamins for her.
 
Last edited:

CluckNDoodle

Crowing
Jan 12, 2019
1,879
5,527
392
Georgia
Thank you everyone for responding. I can hear a lot of myself in what you had to say. I was nodding my head yes to so much. I appreciate it so much.

Sadly, the sick hen passed last night and I found today one of my Seramas, a broody hen is now yellow skinned and gurgling. She’s got energy still, so hopefully perhaps I caught this early and this is more of a case of silly broody hen over-doing it and catching something, .....but yeah, who am I kidding, this is not good. I brought her inside and got some meds and vitamins for her.
I'm so sorry to hear this. I would definitely do a necropsy if you're able to since it's already possibly moving through your flock. Fingers crossed it's just a fluke. :(
 

chickens really

Crazy Call Duck Momma
Premium member
Sep 8, 2015
59,413
102,266
1,617
The Funny Farm....Alberta, Canada
Chickens definitely stress me out. I have Bantam breeds. All my Birds come from the same breeder. Although 6 were introduced as young Pullets. So far I've lost 4 in the last 6 months. I have a sick Pullet right now that seams to have respiratory issues. I put antibiotics in the water but not holding much hope that she will recover.
Others showed signs of Mereks.
I feed quality feed and limit treats. Coop is cleaned as needed.
I was told that wild birds transfer certain diseases to our birds. Chickens carry lots of diseases that they are immune to and stress can trigger an outbreak.
I've come to the decision that I'll keep these birds till they all pass and will not add more. Then I'm done with Chickens.
I'll give them a great life no matter how long or short it is.
 

CCUK

Free Flying
Jan 21, 2018
5,689
27,997
1,172
North Notts, UK
My Coop
My Coop
Sorry to hear about your chicken. At least her last days were spent with live and care. I can't add much to what has been said other than the risk of chickens getting ill from other birds is incredibly high. Migrating birds carry all kinds of things. They don't even need to land in your yard and eat and drink from the chickens feeders. Dander, falling feathers, droppings can all land in your yard. All you can do is minimise it by setting up your own biosecurity measures and sticking to them. I have had two hens that died this year exhibiting similar symptoms to yours. They were both full of tumours. She was eating and drinking perfectly well upto a couple of days before I euthanized. Although they were eating and drinking all it was doing was feeding the tumours and she lost almost all her weight. I hope that your other hen will be OK and that it's nothing serious.
 
Top Bottom