To cull or not to cull? In need of advice.

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by Barredrock92, Apr 21, 2019.

  1. Barredrock92

    Barredrock92 In the Brooder

    Apr 21, 2019
    Hi, fairly new chick owner here. I have an established flock of 3. In February I decided to expand my flock with some chicks. I got two from a farm, not a hatchery. This is the worst luck with chicks I’ve ever had. First one had a respiratory infection, it was treated, and recovered. ( I now know that she is a carrier for life...I didn’t know that a month ago) Then the other died several weeks later due to sour crop. After the she passed I got two more chicks from a real hatchery, (they were four weeks old when I got them).It’s been a month and now one of the younger chicks has the same infection (runny nose, watery eyes, sneezing) that the other did two months prior.We’ve been treating with probiotics, ACV, electrolytes etc. I’ve eliminated environmental factors as possible causes. Im not sure where they got the infection, if perhaps the first set of chicks had it, and passed it to the new chicks, or if my establish hens had it and I transferred it to the young chicks. However my hens have never been symptomatic of anything. I don’t know if I should cull and start over in a few months, or continue treating until all the chicks are well and they can join my adult hens. I don’t want to cull, but I have to protect my older gals. But if they’re the ones that gave the chicks the infection in the first place, it’s a moot point to start over, as any new birds I bring in will be at risk.

    I am overwhelmed and need help. Thanks.
    cottagecheese and CaramelKittey like this.
  2. At what age were your first hens when you got them? They could be carriers, or they could have developed or natural immunity to whatever your little ones got. It's really hard to tell.
  3. Granny Hatchet

    Granny Hatchet Tastes like chicken

    Sep 26, 2013
    madison Indiana
  4. danceswithronin

    danceswithronin Crowing

    May 24, 2018
    I personally would not put sick chickens in with my established flock if it is a respiratory virus that is potentially reoccurring throughout the bird's life cycle. That is just asking for problems down the line, especially if it's contagious to boot.

    I'd personally cull now while my emotional attachment is fairly low, and start over with a new batch of chicks in a few months after doing a thorough cleaning of the coop/brooder and inspecting your older hens carefully for any symptom of illness, no matter how minor. Then when you do get new chicks, I would be hyperaware of biosecurity around them and be very good about not exposing your chicks to anything from the established coop to rule out the chance of cross-contamination.

    The way I see it, chicks have a high hatch rate to offset a high mortality rate, and any chick that got ill in the wild would likely not survive. I'd rather cull and get new chicks and avoid exposing my flock to illness than put the sick chicks in and risk exposing them all to something that could potentially bring down the entire group.

    A major consideration of this too is that if you do introduce reexisting illness into your flock, it's not like a dog or a cat - you'll get almost no easy veterinary backup without pretty heavy expense, expense that far outweighs the economic worth of the bird. So if you have an epidemic in the flock, you'll be doing most of the nursing and vetwork yourself.
  5. I wouldn't suggest culling anyone until a few other possibilities are gone through, and a few more questions are asked and answered - and whether or not a vet is around to help isn't really one of them.
    cottagecheese and Tycine1 like this.
  6. One other thing I'd like to point out is that, whether or not you get chicks from a "real hatchery" or not has, I'm pretty sure, very little to do with what's going on. Aside from the fact that "real hatcheries" come in two types (BIG outfits like Cackle, and smaller farms that hatch and sell chicks of certain, more specific breeds), and the big guys seldom keep chicks over a week old to sell, JUST the trip home from purchasing chicks can have them pick up something. You usually have better luck with getting chicks from established breeders of specific breeds, rather than getting them from the large hatcheries, just because many of them breed for immunity to the common diseases in the area they come from.

    However, here's the main problem with trying to blame whoever you got them from, no matter whether it's a big hatchery, a breeder, or a farm selling their own hatched babies: You have to realize that most diseases that chickens can get are endemic, everywhere, in the soil, and air, and every wild flock of birds that flies over any place you walk can leave enough germs on your shoes as you walk across a parking lot for you to bring home someting that can get birds sick. There is virtually NO way to prevent your flock from getting ANYTHING, ever, unless they are raised and live inisde a locked facility with no access to the outside world, period - and that's no life for a chicken, IMO.
  7. Where are you located?
  8. Tycine1

    Tycine1 Songster

    May 26, 2009
    David, Chiriquí, Panama
    Have you already introduced this original sick then healthy chick to your adults? If so, they've been exposed, so they too would be carriers. So the question goes deeper than cull the sick chick, and goes deeper than cull the 'carrier for life' chick. If your adult hens have been exposed (and are now carriers, and you don't want to cull them), you can still keep your flock; as long as you're prepared to deal with respiratory issues in your flock as they age, particularly when they're stressed, and when you introduce new birds to your flock. Knowing you have a contagious respiratory illness in your flock isn't the end of the world, but it will make things more difficult for you. Oh and... are you sure that the respiratory illness in the first chick was of the 'carrier for life' variety of illnesses? I mean, you can get a sick bird... treat it, and that's it, it's over... not a carrier... for some types of illness. Do you know for certain that whatever she had is contagious still?
    cottagecheese and Aunt Angus like this.
  9. No, the original flock may NOT be carriers of any disease, even if the chicks were around them. They may simply be IMMUNE to the particular disease the chicks have. It's much like some people catch every cold virus that comes along, and others never, or very seldom, catch any of the cold viruses they are ever exposed to. There is a HUGE difference between being a carrier and being immune, and starting to talk about needing closed flocks or having any other bird that is brought in get sick is WAY premature here.

    I want to be certain the difference is understood here, as some parts of the previous comments seem to have spoken like someone there is or was a permanent carrier of something terrible. That simply may not be the case.
    cottagecheese and Aunt Angus like this.
  10. Naser

    Naser Songster

    Oct 29, 2014
    Welcome to BYC. :frow
    The only thing I can think of is medicated feed, It only prevents coccidosis, but every little helps

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