Quarantine with only one bird left in original flock?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by AccidentalChickenLady, Feb 2, 2018.

  1. AccidentalChickenLady

    AccidentalChickenLady In the Brooder

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    Hey BYCers!

    It's been a rough first year of chicken-raising for us... We started out with five chicks 10 months ago, and are now down to one. One chick died a few days in (OK, that happens); one EE died at about 5 months old (she was cross-beaked and never recovered from a beak trim); our RIR died at 7 months old after being treated for gapeworm — a necropsy showed that her reproductive organs never developed, so there was something else going on — but we changed our coop flooring and ramped up biosecurity just to be safe. And then earlier this week, we found our second EE dead inside the coop when we went to scoop poop boards in the morning. No visible signs of injury, and she was behaving normally up until her death, though she was on the tail end of a molt.

    That means we have just one bird left, our alpha Barred Rock, Raven. (That's her standing on my head in my profile picture.) She is also mid-molt, but is eating, drinking, pooping, and clucking normally. She stopped laying a couple weeks ago when she started molting, which I understand is reasonably common.

    We live just outside Denver, CO, and have been having cold weather snaps with nighttime temperatures in the teens. I'm worried about Raven being able to keep warm enough in the night, especially given the fact that she's molting. I also suspect that chickens aren't really made to be solitary creatures?

    I've found a trio of chickens that have been raised by a neighbor that I am considering buying. Two are adults currently laying (another BR and EE, both 1-2 years old), and a 4-month-old orange Buff Orpington. Under normal circumstances, I would quarantine those new birds — and we do have a shed and spare dog crate in which we could keep them through quarantine. Then we'd do the see-but-not-touch method of introduction before putting them all in the permanent coop.

    But my question is this: Given that I just have one bird left in my original flock, and that she would be alone in the main coop for the duration of quarantine, including during cold nights, is a quarantine still the best course of action? I'm nervous about Raven staying warm enough alone in the coop for the next three-four weeks, but also don't want to add additional stress while she's molting and dealing with changing flock dynamics.

    As always, I'm grateful for any and all advice!
     
  2. Keziah

    Keziah Songster

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    Aww, I'm so sorry about your girls! The first day I got mine, one of my favorites died, and now another one is very sick. I know what it is like, and it does happen. I hope you find out what to do.
     
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  3. AccidentalChickenLady

    AccidentalChickenLady In the Brooder

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    Thanks so much, @Keziah! I didn't expect these tiny dinosaurs to capture my heart like they have, but now I wish they'd stop breaking my heart! Hope yours pull through.
     
  4. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Crowing

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    It just depends on you. I would not quarantine if I was only risking one bird. To me, generally speaking, healthy looks healthy. I would not buy anything you feel sorry for.

    There is a chance that you would bring something in, or that your bird has something that might affect the new ones. If you had a very expensive flock, or if you will go into a state of decline... but in your situation, I would just get on with it.

    Most backyard set ups cannot quarantine. To do it correctly, one need a great deal of space, 300 feet between each set up, change your clothes and shoes between caring for each set up. Most people pretend to quarantine, and if you are pretending, you may as well not do it. Merely separating the birds is not quarantine.

    Good luck.
    Mrs K
     
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  5. sourland

    sourland Broody Magician

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    It's a calculated risk, and you might be wrong to skip quarantine, but given the circumstances I would do the same as @Mrs. K.
     
  6. AccidentalChickenLady

    AccidentalChickenLady In the Brooder

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    Thank you @Mrs. K and @sourland! That is kind of my gut feeling, too... I don’t want to lose the last bird I raised by hand, but it seems like keeping her in solitary through a weird winter molt is just as risky as skipping a quarantine. I will still do the see-but-not-touch introductions to try to minimize blood, but I’d rather just get all the birds settled and move forward.
    And thanks especially for the reminder to not buy anything I feel sorry for. The neighbor has a decent-sized flock that I can choose from, so I will be sure to examine each one closely before I bring them home. I just miss having fresh eggs and feathered friends to visit in the yard!
     
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  7. Folly's place

    Folly's place Free Ranging

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    At least check everyone for mites and lice (including your hen!) and deal with that immediately if you fine even one nasty bug.
    I hope this all goes well, you have had a tough year.
    Mary
     
  8. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Crowing

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    All of your birds will be the same size, your original bird will have home court advantage, but the other three will know each other. I would separate them one or two days, look no touch, feed next to the fence, but let them all go to the coop the next night, and then watch the next day. I would be quite surprised if you have much trouble.

    If you do, split them two and two, and let the pairs work it out for a week, then put the pairs together.
     
  9. AccidentalChickenLady

    AccidentalChickenLady In the Brooder

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    Howdy all! Just checking in with an incremental update. We brought home three new birds on Saturday - the 4mo Orange Buff Orpington (Georgia), a white Easter Egger (Ruth) and what the seller said was a Barred Rock, but which I am convinced is in fact another EE (Frida), given her brown, black, and grey speckled coloring and olive eggs. Both the EEs are 1-2 years old, and frankly, Frida is a jerk. Since she's already taken to pecking anyone who comes close, I decided to start with @Mrs. K's suggestion and introduce them two-by-two.

    After four days of look-but-no-touch with all three new birds in the dog crate, today I let Georgia, the baby, out in the yard free-ranging with Raven, our last remaining original girl, a 10mo Barred Rock. Raven pecked at her a few times, but nothing prolonged or severe - Georgia is quick to flee when she's being corrected. After an hour or so I closed them in Raven's run together, with an extra food and water container just to be safe. Here they are in the afternoon sun together:
    RavenGeorgia.jpg
    It took Georgia until the sun had gone ALL the way down to build up the courage to climb the ramp and go inside the coop, but all I heard was some mild scuffling, and when I just went to check on them, both girls were nestled inside the coop. Raven is on the roost and Georgia is on the edge of the nesting box, but for a first night together, I will call that a success. I'm including photos as proof that everyone is still in one piece.

    I anticipate more squawking and pecking as I integrate the two older birds, so I will likely hold off on that until this weekend when I can watch them closely. THANK YOU to everyone who's commented here with suggestions... You've made me a much wiser chicken mama! IMG_0947.jpg
     
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  10. ChickNanny13

    ChickNanny13 Crossing the Road

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    :celebrate Glad to learn it's all working out :thumbsup
     
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