Questions to ask before adopting an adult chicken

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by BoyankaTheBuff, Dec 5, 2016.

  1. BoyankaTheBuff

    BoyankaTheBuff Out Of The Brooder

    Oct 28, 2016
    Minneapolis, MN
    Long time reader, first time poster here.

    I am considering adopting a mature hen from a friend who needs to give her up, and I am wondering what kind of questions you recommend asking. So far I have:

    - What are her age, breed, laying habits
    - Any history of illness/medication
    - Is her coop currently heated
    - Did you raise her from a baby

    I currently have six pullets about 8 months old. Their coop is 6x10', and they don't have an enclosed run at the moment but they do free range during the afternoon in our fenced (urban) backyard.

    Their old (much smaller) coop and tiny enclosed run is still set up in our yard, so that could be a good place to quarantine the newcomer if needed (for how long?)

    Give me all your advice or links to any discussions similar to this. I searched for questions like mine but couldn't find anything.
    Thank you!
  2. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Flock Master

    Nov 7, 2012
    I keep a closed flock, and would not bring an adult bird into my flock, no matter what the circumstances are. IMO, the risk of bringing in a latent disease are too great. That being said, I'd do a very careful inspection of her for lice/mites. Ask if there have ever been lice/mite issues in the owner's coop or flock. Why is she giving her up? Ever any runny nose, mucous discharge? Are her eyes bright? Feather quality? (she may be molting, in which case her feathers will look shabby.) Comb and wattles good color? What is the quality of her eggs? How many eggs has she laid/week? Integrating a single bird into an existing flock is difficult. Better for them to come into the flock with a friend. You may want to eventually put one of your birds with her so she has a buddy, then integrate the 2 birds into your flock together.
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2016
    1 person likes this.
  3. TalkALittle

    TalkALittle Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 15, 2014
    Most important question is one you need to ask yourself. Are you willing to risk losing all your current birds to illness? Even if the new bird looks perfectly healthy and may never have been ill (exhibited symptoms) it could still be a carrier of illness that could wipe out your entire flock.

    In an urban lot, it is unlikely you have the space to effectively quarantine a bird. Additionally, the bird may appear completely healthy all during quarantine but still infect your birds.

    There are ways to reduce risk but every time you bring in new birds it is a gamble.
    1 person likes this.
  4. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Overrun With Chickens

    Oct 16, 2010
    NEK, VT
    If her other hens died of illness or unknown causes walk away. If predator attack or some other legitimate reason she's down to one hen I don't see any reason not to take the bird if you want another.

    I've taken in grown pullets before, seen the set up they were raised and health of flock before finalizing purchase. In both cases they were basically wild- full free range. LOL. I also sell chicks to adult birds. Anyone purchasing birds from me are welcome to see the rest of the flock. I'd hate to see people get so scared of foreign birds they only purchase from hatcheries. That would be awful. If there was never an illness then there is no need to think a bird is a carrier. Know your seller and be comfortable with transaction. Any warning bells ring then walk away for no reason other than gut reaction. It's your right and a good way to purchase animals.
    1 person likes this.
  5. Keep your own Birds.......Do not add more......Less stress to the Birds and you.......You wont be bringing in disease to you other Birds if you walk away from that one Bird......Chickens carry disease....It is a Given.......It spreads fast also......

    Do not add more Birds....

  6. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Flock Master

    Mar 15, 2010
    On the MN prairie.
    Adding a new chicken does not guarantee adding disease to your flock. I agree with Mrs. K that healthy generally looks healthy. Yes, inspect for lice and mites. Yes, the new chicken could be a carrier and infect the rest of your birds. Are you ready to take that chance? Ask about diseases. Did your friend have more than the one chicken? If so, what happened to the rest? Frankly, I'm not sure your coop is big enough to add another bird. Read up on integration before adopting this bird. General recommendation is minimum 4 square feet per bird in the coop, 10' per bird in the run. How long is your roost? Another minimum recommendation is 1' roost space per bird.

    As far as proper quarantine, I don't know if your yard would be big enough for a proper quarantine, but it might help to have her in a look but don't touch situation. That can help lessen the stress of integration.
  7. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Excellent idea.

    Very good points. Thought the same thing about the smaller coop/run.
    Keep in mind integrating new birds can take extra space.
    A protected run would be a very good thing to have with your coop size and climate.

    Free ranging can help with integration, but hard time to do an integration in your climate.
    And getting her into the coop might be harder...would be great if you could partition off part of the coop for her to spend some time in.
  8. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon

    First on my mind would be why the friend is getting rid of the bird.
  9. IdyllwildAcres

    IdyllwildAcres Overrun With Chickens

    Maybe the most important question is is it worth the risk to your flock?

    IDK, I am new here....

    Gary from Idyllwid CA here
  10. Folly's place

    Folly's place True BYC Addict

    Sep 13, 2011
    southern Michigan
    I NEVER bring in outside birds. Never. Either I get Marek's vaccinated chicks from a good hatchery, or raise them myself here. All the other posters have given great advise, so I hope things go well for you and your flock. Mary

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