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Is a clean flock a realistic possibility?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Shan30, Dec 3, 2013.

  1. Shan30

    Shan30 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I'm hoping for a little insight from the great poultry community of BYC.

    Sorry if this is a bit long... Our original flock was a ramshackle mix of hand me downs, rescues, battery hens and the inevitable "ooooo that one looks cool!" at poultry swaps.

    This led to the sad but common outcome that we brought home MG with four pullets one day. We quarantined, they appeared healthy, they weren't. We had to cull our entire flock save the chicks who were always separate and have always appeared healthy and are now 6-7 months old and being tested. If they test positive, we start over. I has been heartbreaking.

    This is where my problem begins... where on earth (ok in Canada) do you find clean, guaranteed healthy birds?

    Today I told this story to a breeder near me who has a gorgeous Blue Silkie roo that I know my husband would adore. She told me she has had CRD go through her flock twice in the last year. That she culls the sick ones to try to prevent carriers. She has beautiful birds and I regard her as a respectable breeder. She's going to hang on to him. I'm considering testing him myself while she has him. Then quarantining, then testing again. However she also told me that this has been a bad year and that every breeder she knows has had a respiratory illness hit their flock. She knows a lot of people and I believe her.

    I have read many things stating that all birds have been exposed to mareks. Statistics showing extremely high percentages of birds testing positive for MG as carriers, etc. Is it true?

    There is no NPIP certification in Canada. Is all I can do, buy, quarantine, test, hope and possibly cull over and over?

    Is it truly possible to find and maintain healthy birds?

    Sorry for the loaded question!
     
  2. foreverlearning

    foreverlearning Chillin' With My Peeps

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    There are some problems that just can't be helped because they are carried by soil and bugs. I don't know in your area about breeders and testing requirements. Keeping in mind my limited knowledge of your area the only suggestion that I can think of is Ideal Poultry. They ship chicks to your area and you can have them vaccinated at the hatchery. If you order threw them and choose to get the shots, remember not to feed medicated chick feed to them as it will null the shots. Then you would want to either hatch your own or order more from them if you want to expand your flock. Remember anytime you go into another chicken owners yard, feed mill, or farm supply store don't wear those shoes into your chicken yard. Dirt or worse from their area can be trapped on the bottom. Good Luck!
     
  3. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    I've always had a closed flock, meaning I only bring in day old chicks. Otherwise I hatch birds myself. I've never had an illness in my flock in 20+ years. I have lost birds to unknown causes from time to time, but no signs of illness in the bird prior or in other flock members. If I did have a bird show signs of illness I would dispatch it asap.

    I think you're taking a huge chance planning on bringing in a bird from someone who has had problems.

    Start with chicks. Get them vaccinated, if you want, and don't bring in any other birds. No rescues, nothing. Get a good healthy base going. Just don't go to swaps--who knows what you're tracking home to your birds. Plus, you're not bringing any birds home, remember? So just don't go.
     
  4. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    This depends on what you get them vaccinated for. Medicated feed is for cocci, it won't affect the vaccine for Marek's. It will mess with a vaccine for cocci. So do some research and know what you're getting vaccinated for.
     
    1 person likes this.
  5. Agree with donrae - start with hatching eggs or day old chicks, then breed your own or with hatching eggs from known sources who adhere to similar protocols. Don't be shy about culling out problems, and breed for health and vitality.
     
  6. Shan30

    Shan30 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    We have not been to a poultry swap since. Nor do we intend to.

    Now I completely agree that hatching eggs are safest bet. I don't think chicks are any safer unless they are coming from a source that has clean stock to begin with. If its on the farm you get the chicks from, they are just as likely to have it. Some diseases are even transferred through the egg. This is why we culled out flock. MG is one of those diseases. If you are bringing in live birds, I don't consider this a closed flock.

    Which means that hatchery quality birds are my only hope?
     
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2013
  7. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    To clarify--I did mean hatchery birds. I'm not sure what diseases they could bring in, but everyone I've discussed this with considers day old chicks from a hatchery a closed flock. Hatcheries have to be pretty big on biosecurity--it's their living they're talking about--and I've never had a chick with any disease going this route.

    You're asking if a clean flock is a possibility--I'm saying it absolutely is, and my flock is proof. It just depends on if you want to go this route.
     
  8. Shan30

    Shan30 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thank you for the clarification. Hatchery birds are probably as safe as one can get to bring in new birds.

    I think at this point we will wait until test results come in and go from there. We will pass on this particular roo.

    It's the claims that all birds have been exposed to mareks etc. that really get me.

    There are some really great breeders on the island with amazing birds and it seems like such a shame to not be able to buy our some of own breeding stock from them.
     
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2013
  9. Going Quackers

    Going Quackers Overrun With Chickens

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    Unfortunately, having birds from to many sources puts you at risk for troubles. The majority of my chickens have come from the same place, thus allowing me to know already where i stood. I do agree with the other poster i would be cautious about adding a bird from a source who has had problems recently.

    I'm sorry your foray into chickens has gone so terribly, they can be a real pleasure.
     
  10. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    Sounds like your local breeders don't practice good bio security, though, if they've all had issues. I'm all for buying local, and would love to have better than hatchery stock at some point (heritage Barred Rocks, anyone? [​IMG]) but I'm at the point where I need to have a healthy flock first.

    I hope you have better luck in the future.......it sucks to lose all those birds.
     

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