Looking to add two - is quarantine necessary?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by janenjay, Jul 20, 2011.

  1. janenjay

    janenjay New Egg

    Jan 30, 2011
    Hello Everyone!

    We're newbies and would appreciate some information on this topic.

    We have three pullets of mixed breeds (light brahma, RIR, and Gold sexlink) and would like to add two more pullets. I read here on BYC that owners should quarantine any new birds before introducing them to the flock. My spouse disagrees because he thinks the chances of infection are very small. I don't want to lose the existing flock. What are the chances of infection? What should we look for when picking out pullets?

    Thanks for the information! [​IMG]
  2. Billyj

    Billyj Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 20, 2010
    Gaffney SC
    IMHO unless you know 100 + 50% sure that the new chickens are free of any parasite, bug, infestation of anything, free of cooties or whatever you want to call it, or in the case of extreme emergency, I would say ok. But if there is any doubt at all quarantine them. You don't know if they have picked up something from where they are coming from and not showing any signs yet. I prefer to seperate them. I did (in the emergency case) add new hens to my existing flock 1 time and it worked out fine, but have not done it since. Jus be cautious and careful.
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2011
  3. Hot2Pot

    Hot2Pot Fox Hollow Rabbitry

    Feb 1, 2010
    West TN
    It is better to quarantine and not need to, than to not do it and be sorry later. There are some pretty nasty poultry diseases out there. Look for bright eyes , good appetite, alert appearance. Do not buy birds that are ruffled, dirty, sneezing or just don't look right.
  4. DaughterOfEve

    DaughterOfEve Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 3, 2009
    Montague, MI
    Keep in mind that some ailments take a few days to surface. Perfectly healthy looking birds may have tick or lice eggs with no evident adult bugs on them, but a few days latter will explode with bugs. Another observation is that the birds should be given a few days to see each other before putting them together anyway to ease fighting, pecking. It is just good biosecurity and flock management to keep them separated for a time even if it is only a few days. Good Luck.
  5. hcppam

    hcppam Chillin' With My Peeps

    Quote:totally! [​IMG]
  6. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Chicken Obsessed

    Nov 12, 2009
    western South Dakota
    Imho - it depends where you get them. From a place where you have visited and seen all the birds, not such a threat. At a swap or auction, a huge threat.

    Also it depends on what you are willing to risk. For me, if I was sure where I was getting them, and only had 3 birds in the existing flock, I would not quarantine. However, if I had 20+ birds, well then, I have much more money, time and work involved in the flock, and would definitely quarantine.

    However, it is going to depend on your space and setup too. Merely separating them with a fence is not quarantine. They need to be separated by a great distance, and their food and water handled separately. Most back yard people do not have the space to truly quarantine. If they are sharing air space, they are sharing germs and parasites.

    However, if I had a flock of 3, and wanted 5, and didn't have the space to quarantine, I would still get the birds and risk it.

  7. Mattemma

    Mattemma Overrun With Chickens

    Aug 12, 2009
    I did not and our hens got sick after the healthy looking roo was introduced.I was lucky and saved everyone.One forum member introduced a hen(from a clean breeder) and it tested positive for something serious.She had to cull over 20 chickens including chicks.I am still so sad for her as she had the most beautiful flock and set up.

    To this day my roo never showed signs of illness. I think he brought some lice with him too! Lice and snotty hens ugh! It was a tough few weeks,AND all eggs were tossed.
  8. featherz

    featherz Veggie Chick

    Mar 22, 2010
    Saratoga County, NY
    Definitely quarantine, no matter where you get them, IMO.

    I sometimes sell chickens/chicks on CL and although I have no problems with my birds that I know about, I even tell the peeps that pick up the birds to quarantine MY birds from theirs. Sometimes illnesses won't show up until they are stressed (by moving to a new home).. Sometimes you can have birds immune but carriers, etc.. Better to be safe!
  9. klf73

    klf73 Mad Scientist

    Jun 1, 2008
    You can't be 100% sure that anyone else's flock is clean. I learned that the hard way...and I did quarantine [​IMG] . Mine was not a usual occurance but I would say quarantine is a MUST....I have seen too many people lose their whole flock from lack of quarantine....if you search the emergencies section you will find all the reasons you need to....
  10. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    It is a personal decision. I take biosecurity seriously enough that the only way I add to my flock is through hatching eggs or chicks from a hatchery. Different people take different approaches to this.

    Some things to understand about quarantine. Mrs. K is right. True quarantine needs distance, not just a fence. Different diseases are spread different ways. Some are passed on by eating each others poop, some from sharing food or water dishes, and some are spread by the air. People who stick them in the coop in a cage or dog crate are not really quarantining.

    Some flocks have diseases that they are immune to. Coccidiosis is a great example, but there are plenty of others. The will never show symptoms no matter how long you quarantine them, but as soon as you mix them with your flock, they flock is infected. And it is just as likely that your flock will infect the newcomers with one of these.

    I personally don't see mites, lice, or worms as a great threat to your flock from newcomers. These are more inconveniences than risks compared to many other potential things. I do think it is a good idea to treat for lice and mites, plus worm any newcomers before you mix them, but these things are not going to kill your chickens as long as you look out for them.

    To me, a serious quarantine not only includes housing them truly separately, but to not carry the food and water to then in the same containers. Don't wear the same shoes when you go from flock to flock but have dedicated shoes for each flock. I would not go so far as to change clothes and shower when going between flocks, but the commercial operations do that. They even require delivery trucks to disinfect their tires before dropping off feed or other supplies. I personally would not buy a separate lawn mower for each area. I know I'm being a little ridiculous with that, but I want to show how serious the big commercial operations take biosecurity.

    As I said, I don't add other older chickens, but to me a real quarantine would include putting one of my existing flock with the newcomers to see if they are hiding something they are immune to.

    Don't get me wrong. I thin quarantine is a great idea if you understand what you are doing. Chickens from closed flocks, which means that they are not exposed to strange chickens, are not likely to show anything when in quarantine, especially if the previous owner would recognize a disease instead of thinking sneezing is normal. But chickens that come from chicken swaps or new chickens have been added to the flock recently are certainly at a much higher risk. Quarantine is an extremely valuable tool but you need to know how to use the tool for it to be effective.
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2011

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