Quarantine/Integrating *Stranger* Chickens

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Smuvers Farm, Nov 2, 2017.

  1. Smuvers Farm

    Smuvers Farm Melvin Up the Taterhole

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    We are coming in to 6 new girls for our flock. Complete stranger chickens. Not ones from a friend... not ones we know an accurate ANY history on. So far, the current *owner* THINKS they are around 2 years old. Tomorrow I will post pics so, hopefully, their ages and breeds can be fully determined. But I digress.

    As these are chicks that haven't been on my homestead, I already know to quarantine. We are getting a site ready for them, where they and our current flock can eyeball each other without coming into contact. As I know none of their history, I have a few questions:

    1. Should I go ahead and douse them with VetRX, electrolytes, probiotics, prebiotics, Nutra Drench, dewormer, Corid, pre-treat for mites, epsom salt baths, any combination thereof? I know they've been in a very small, contained space... but not taken care of.

    2. I'm thinking I should quarantine for at least 8 weeks. Is that good? Longer? Shorter?

    3. Current *owner* says they are laying eggs. I have no plans on eating their eggs until they would be *safe*... how long would that be? I doubt seriously these hens have been treated for fleas/mites, or given anything kind of vet treatment, so I'm sure no antibiotics or frontline or anything have been used on or in them.

    4. When doing their initial exam, what should I look at and look for?

    ANY suggestions would be helpful at this point, as this will be my oldest flock ever.
     
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  2. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Chicken Obsessed

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    Truthfully, do not ever take in something you feel sorry for.

    If they can see each other, then it is not quarantine. I am not a big advocator of quarantine, but in this instance I would do a STRICT quarantine, a huge distance apart, I believe 300 feet. With a complete change of clothes, before handling the other birds. Research it, you cannot wing quarantine. It is not like horseshoes or hand-gernades. It has to be done exactly right. It is very involved, a lot of work, and a huge inconvenience.

    I am not a believer in randomly treating for disease or vermin, but if you find them, you should treat.

    Seriously reconsider risking your set up for these old birds. One should not expect that they will be great layers, if he thinks they are about 2, more than likely older.

    Unless you can truly quarantine, and do it properly, one may as well not do it at all. With the birds you describe, you need to do it properly.

    Mrs K
     
  3. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Very good chance that these birds will be molting and not laying once they move to your place.
    Not sure what your goals are or how long you've kept chickens,
    but why feed (someone else's)non productive birds for most the winter,
    especially coupled with the risk of bringing pests and disease??

    Knowing your goals will garner more specific advice, but here's some.

    Here's some good info on quarantine:
    BYC Medical Quarantine Article
    BYC 'quarantine' search

    Integration and quarantine are two very different things.
    Integration Basics:
    It's all about territory and resources(space/food/water).
    Existing birds will almost always attack new ones to defend their resources.
    Understanding chicken behaviors is essential to integrating new birds into your flock.

    Confine new birds within sight but physically segregated from older/existing birds for several weeks, so they can see and get used to each other but not physically interact.

    In adjacent runs, spread scratch grains along the dividing mesh, best if mesh is just big enough for birds to stick their head thru, so they get used to eating together.

    The more space, the better. Birds will peck to establish dominance, the pecked bird needs space to get away. As long as there's no copious blood drawn and/or new bird is not trapped/pinned down and beaten unmercilessly, let them work it out. Every time you interfere or remove new birds, they'll have to start the pecking order thing all over again.

    Multiple feed/water stations. Dominance issues are most often carried out over sustenance, more stations lessens the frequency of that issue.

    Places for the new birds to hide 'out of line of sight'(but not a dead end trap) and/or up and away from any bully birds. Roosts, pallets or boards leaned up against walls or up on concrete blocks, old chairs tables, branches, logs, stumps out in the run can really help. Lots of diversion and places to 'hide' instead of bare wide open run.

    This used to be a better search, new format has reduced it's efficacy, but still:
    Read up on integration..... BYC advanced search>titles only>integration
    This is good place to start reading, BUT some info is outdated IMO:
    http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/adding-to-your-flock
     
  4. igorsMistress

    igorsMistress Cloudy, with a chance of meatballs Premium Member

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    Since you don't know anything about them, talk to the owner. Ask lots of questionsHonestly I can't remember my own age sometimes let alone that of each bird in my flock;)

    Check them out before you bring them home, and if you take them don't treat for anything until you've had some time to observe them. If they don't have issues still don't treat them as there's no point if they aren't sick. Maybe worm them if you really think you must, but I wouldn't even do that.
     
  5. Each flock carries their own diseases that they are immune too...Stress will bring out symptoms. I personally would not bring in those Birds.
    I agree with everyone's replies so far..
     
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  6. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

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    1. Should I go ahead and douse them with VetRX, electrolytes, probiotics, prebiotics, Nutra Drench, dewormer, Corid, pre-treat for mites, epsom salt baths, any combination thereof? I know they've been in a very small, contained space... but not taken care of.
    I’m also in the camp of not treating unless I have something specific to treat for. And I don’t feed mine weird things just because it’s fun or my wife’s best friend overheard someone at the beauty shop say that her mother-in-law’s aunt said it was a good thing to do. With that said, absolutely check for mites and lice. I’d suggest having a vet do a fecal float to check for worms.

    1. I'm thinking I should quarantine for at least 8 weeks. Is that good? Longer? Shorter?
    A typical quarantine is four weeks. Diseases and parasites can be spread by then sharing water, by mosquitoes or certain other critters, by pecking at the ground where one has pooped, by people tracking dirt into the area on clothing or especially shoes, or by the air. The more of these possible transfer methods you can eliminate the better your quarantine. Housing them where they can see each other doesn’t do much. Usually I’d say if they have been isolated from contact with other chickens for a month they’ve essentially been in quarantine, but that assumes the current owner wound know a disease or parasite if the symptoms were present. It sounds like you don’t have much confidence in that.

    It is very possible, even normal, for a flock to develop flock immunities. They can transmit a disease or parasite to another bird but since they are immune they will never show symptoms no matter how long they are in quarantine. It’s possible your flock will infect the new birds. Coccidiosis is a great example but there could be other things. One way to check for flock immunity issues is to pick a potentially sacrificial bird from your current flock and house it with the newcomers. See which if any get sick.

    1. Current *owner* says they are laying eggs. I have no plans on eating their eggs until they would be *safe*... how long would that be? I doubt seriously these hens have been treated for fleas/mites, or given anything kind of vet treatment, so I'm sure no antibiotics or frontline or anything have been used on or in them.
    This is one you have to talk to the owner. And yes, it is extremely possible, probably likely, the change will cause a molt and they will stop laying if they haven’t already molted this year.

    1. When doing their initial exam, what should I look at and look for?
    It sounds like you can pick and choose which ones you take. If they haven’t molted they will probably look pretty rough, one reason they molt is to replace feathers that have been worn out. That makes going by the feathers kind of challenging. The ones with nice feathers have probably already finished the molt, I’d prefer them.

    If the wattles and comb are bright red that’s normally a good sign. It’s normal when they molt for the combs and wattles to be light colored and maybe even shriveled a bit. Again I’d prefer ones with a bright red comb but time of year makes that a little more problematic.

    Above all don’t take any you feel sorry for. Don’t take any with a physical abnormality, whatever that may be. If you see any standing around, fluffed up and lethargic, absolutely don’t take them. If I saw any like that I’d turn and run, not take any. Same if you see any with any kind of discharge from eyes or mouth. Just run, remembering to clean your shoes and wash your clothes as soon as you get home so you don’t bring something back to your flock.

    I don’t know your reasons for wanting these, it could be many things like breeding stock. There are plenty of legitimate reasons to take them, that’s your business. At two years old their egg laying will quickly decline, you will probably get one good season out of them next year. People bring in new chickens all the time, often without quarantine at all let alone an effective quarantine, and often don’t have any serious problems.

    Anytime you bring in new chickens you put your existing flock at risk. And you take the chance of bringing in a disease or parasite that will never go away. That’s your decision based on your risk tolerance and how you feel about your current flock.
     
  7. igorsMistress

    igorsMistress Cloudy, with a chance of meatballs Premium Member

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    :goodpost:
     
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  8. cottontail farm

    cottontail farm Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Ok, I seem to have a very different take on this. If the birds seem healthy and you want to take them in, why not. If anyone is visably sick or poorly looking then of course pass but if they seem ok what the heck. Sure, keep them apart for a couple of weeks to be sure and to let them get used to each other. Other than that I wouldn't bother with proactively treating them with any of the items you lised in #1. Just give them a chance to get settled in without stressing them out further.
    Yes I am aware that there is risk and chickens can carry illnesses that aren't always visible. But if every strange chicken/wild bird out there was plagued with some catastrophic bird illness chickens wouldn't have made it this far.
     
  9. 20 years ago ...Chickens were not thought of as pets so are disease prone...The allowance of Backyard Birds has disease spreading...Immunity to their flock is their survival....
     
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  10. Chickassan

    Chickassan True BYC Addict

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    I want to know more about where these chickens are coming from, with all your lines drawn through some statements I've got a feeling there's more to this story....are these chickens shifty? I only took in one shifty chicken and I irritated the everlasting crap out of that woman until i got the answers i needed. I am not suggesting you do the same, but i am saying you should seriously think about doing it.:)
     

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