Too soft hearted

JoePa

Songster
9 Years
Apr 18, 2011
285
78
176
Lehigh County Pa.
I read time and time again where people have sick chickens and they keep trying to do all sorts of things to get them better - only to end up keeping chickens that help some disease to continue to live and spread - thus harming their own flock and those of other chicken raisers - when someone suggests that they should cull the sick birds others think that this is a curel - I truly believe a lot of the problems that people are faced with are the result of people not wanting to cull their sick birds - just think if every time a chicken got sick and it was culled most of the diseases that are encountered would be very rare - so what I am saying - if you can't cull a sick chicken you are too soft hearted and should not raise chickens -
 

seminolewind

Flock Mistress
Premium Feather Member
13 Years
Sep 6, 2007
18,683
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Corydon, Indiana
It's unfortunate that it's not that simple. Usually by the time a chicken looks sick, the flock has already been exposed. Or sometimes the ailment is solvable.

I think you're right in trying to say that having chickens or any animal makes you responsible for not letting that animal suffer. I think people have to have plan in case a chicken is not able to be saved. And people need to think about adding a new chicken to a flock, and what they might be exposing a healthy flock to.

But yes, JoePa, whether soft hearted or not, you really do need to plan what you'd do to end suffering or protect your flock. It's a responsibility. Good point.
 

gwendalynn28

Songster
8 Years
Apr 17, 2011
167
10
101
It is hard to cull a bird, especially one that you love, but I think its even more cruel to keep a sick bird around and risk losing the others as well. Sometimes culling is the best kindness because then you keep your other animals safe. But, like seminolewind stated above, sometimes its not that simple. I recently suffered an illness in my flock and tried to compassionate and treat instead of cull. I ended up with 3 sick chicks, a dead hen, a sick hen, and a sick rooster. If I had culled at the first sick hen and sanitized everything and treated the other birds, perhaps no one else would have gotten sick. I ended up having to cull birds for the first time ever and it was horrible. I took in new hens and didn't quarantine them, which was my mistake. I also did not take the time to get a close enough look at each chicken every day either. Now I spray my shoes between my two coops, only go in the non-sick coop first, and the one that had the problem is under quarantine so I always go there last. When I'm done, my shoes get sprayed down again (I carry a spray bottle of bleach water on my belt now), I take off my clothes and throw them in the washer upon entry of the house, wash my hands and arms, and put on fresh clothes. It may seem drastic but I feel it is easier than ever having to cull a bird again. It was the most horrible thing. I will not be accepting anymore birds from anywhere anymore unless they are NPIP certified and then they will still be quarantined for about a month. Better safe than sorry.
 

speckledhen

Intentional Solitude
Premium Feather Member
13 Years
Feb 3, 2007
79,050
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Blue Ridge Mtns. of North Georgia
My point has always been that every person should make their decisions from a strong position of knowledge, knowing full well the consequences if they do not cull a bird who is a carrier of a disease that will likely end up infecting others in their flock or someone else's flock in the future.

That is all I ask, all I've ever asked-for the owners to not put their fingers in their ears and cover their eyes so they remain blissfully ignorant of some of the harsh realities of chicken keeping. They must realize that chickens are avians, not mammals, and therefore, must be treated differently.

If you decide to treat, know what you're up against and what precautions you must always follow if you decide to keep a perpetually sick bird in your flock. You have to face that in order to make an informed decision.

Soft hearted? I'm guilty of that. I had hen in a cage, a hen who was over 5 years old, raised from a day old chick, ready to put her down, when I decided to consult the state vet to make sure what I was dealing with. He informed me that she had a bacterial sinus infection, secondary to a fungal infection she suffered from last summer, along with my rooster and a couple of older hens, caused by the circumstances of the protracted heat/humidity that they were not used to here. He said he was 100% certain that she was not contagious, that if she had lived to her age with no illness, she was highly resistant and complimented us on raising such healthy birds. So, I was ready to cull this bird we loved and would have done it through tears. Yes, we are soft hearted, but realists, too.
 
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TwoCrows

❄Winter has returned❄
BYC Staff
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9 Years
Mar 21, 2011
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New Mexico, USA
My Coop
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I think that everyone needs to make their own decision on this matter. I have kept parrots for over 25 years, quail for nearly 6 years and just this last year started in with chickens. I have seen many a illness in all these birds and not all of them are contagious to the flock. I have had some cases where these birds were contagious, but by the time you find the ailing bird, the rest of the flock has already been exposed.

And exposure can be a good thing. Keeps the survivors in a healthier state. Many folks like myself don't breed my birds. And if I culled each and every one of them that got sick, I might be completely out of birds by now!

From a breeders stand point, culling sick birds might be a good idea. Strengthens the flock. But for a great many of us, these birds have become our pets. We have grown up ourselves from the chicks we were when the chicks were new and we have all become adults. We have grown attached to them and know all their secrets. These birds have personality, think, problem solve and enjoy their lives. Of course if the get to the point where life is no longer enjoyable, of course they need to be put down. But I have seen birds look near death for months and survive what was ailing them.

I have a quail that contracted WEE Western Equine Encephalitis years ago and was at deaths door for 8 months. But I kept her alive because she still had that sparkle in her eye. She did survive. And she is thrilled to BE alive.

And you know what else happens when you work on sick birds and they live?? You learn a MILLION things about poultry medicine and how to treat them. I know so much more now than I did 25 years ago when I brought home my first parrot. I was still in the dark with my first quail. However over these past years, they have all caught something that may have rendered them culling material.

And because I ventured thru these uncharted waters of ill birds, I have learned how to do bumblefoot surgeries, cure a sour crop, how to do IM injections, what types of antibiotics to use for certain illnesses and know the ins and outs of how many things work in poultry that I would never have learned had I just culled these birds.

These birds appreciate me, have grown very fond of me thru the constant handling and have gone past the "just chickens" stage. Sometimes culling is necessary when a bird is past the point of no return. But many times they can be saved. And both you and your flocks can benefit from the experience.
 

dawg53

Humble
Premium Feather Member
12 Years
Nov 27, 2008
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Glen St Mary, Florida
Birds with most respiratory diseases do not acquire immunity or resistance over time. Birds either die or become carriers. These diseases build resistance to antibiotics in given time. Perhaps possibly in time they mutate into a different strain. We know there are many strains of MG for example. Depopulation is the only way to go to completely irradicate a disease as in the commercial industry.
 

Daisy8s

Songster
8 Years
Sep 12, 2011
467
132
138
Central Michigan
Today I did something I swore I'd never do when I got into chickens...I took a hen to the vet.

I'm a practical farm girl and I see my birds as livestock, not pets. But, today, one hen began making a weird rasping/honking noise every time she breathed. I read up on everything I could online and found lots of possible causes but wasn't sure enough to treat her. That's when I realized that I needed the vet.

I'm not an expert in avian illness and I need to educate myself if I'm going to be a responsible chicken owner. When I got the vet's office I began by explaining that I was not here to save this bird; I was here to educate myself. I asked him to please tell me what he was doing as he was examining her. He was very kind and talked through all kinds of things he was ruling out during the examination. Our conclusion was that she'd inhaled some food (I switched to a powdery mash from pellets last night) and we're treating her accordingly.

I learned a lot from that vet today and now I will feel more comfortable treating my birds in the future. If I'd culled her the minute I heard the weird sound I wouldn't have learned some practical information about respiratory systems of birds today.

I wish I had experienced chicken owners near me who I could consult but I don't so right now as I'm learning I'll be spending plenty of time online and occasionally I will be at my vet's office. That isn't being soft-hearted, it's being a practical and responsible animal owner.
 

dawg53

Humble
Premium Feather Member
12 Years
Nov 27, 2008
27,403
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866
Glen St Mary, Florida
Today I did something I swore I'd never do when I got into chickens...I took a hen to the vet.

I'm a practical farm girl and I see my birds as livestock, not pets. But, today, one hen began making a weird rasping/honking noise every time she breathed. I read up on everything I could online and found lots of possible causes but wasn't sure enough to treat her. That's when I realized that I needed the vet.

I'm not an expert in avian illness and I need to educate myself if I'm going to be a responsible chicken owner. When I got the vet's office I began by explaining that I was not here to save this bird; I was here to educate myself. I asked him to please tell me what he was doing as he was examining her. He was very kind and talked through all kinds of things he was ruling out during the examination. Our conclusion was that she'd inhaled some food (I switched to a powdery mash from pellets last night) and we're treating her accordingly.

I learned a lot from that vet today and now I will feel more comfortable treating my birds in the future. If I'd culled her the minute I heard the weird sound I wouldn't have learned some practical information about respiratory systems of birds today.

I wish I had experienced chicken owners near me who I could consult but I don't so right now as I'm learning I'll be spending plenty of time online and occasionally I will be at my vet's office. That isn't being soft-hearted, it's being a practical and responsible animal owner.
You present a excellent point and I agree. You were dealing with basically a common problem with chickens, inhaling feed dust, somehow snorting a feed crumble (I've had it happen in a Red Star)...environmental issues that can be corrected or eliminated.
It's when the rasping/honking noises, most likely accompanied by other symptoms show up in a few birds and spread amongst the others is a good indicator that it's a respiratory disease of some sort.
 

Daisy8s

Songster
8 Years
Sep 12, 2011
467
132
138
Central Michigan
I think today was a real learning experience for me. When I got the chickens I promised myself I'd see them as livestock and cull whenever it was necessary. And, in fact, I've already culled three hens who weren't producing well enough by giving them to a Southeast Asian refugee family who appreciated the food very much.

But, then when this happened I felt very uneducated and in need of expert advice. I don't plan to use the vet often but when I can learn valuable information that I can then bring home and use to be a better poultry keeper, it seems like a wise investment.
 

seminolewind

Flock Mistress
Premium Feather Member
13 Years
Sep 6, 2007
18,683
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762
Corydon, Indiana
Quarantine does not work for every illness. There are illnesses that are carried without symptoms. NPIP does not save chickens from all illness, it doesn't mean that the chickens don't carry something else.

If you have a healthy flock, practicing a closed system will keep them healthy. Incubate, or buy hatchery day-old chicks. Follow SpeckledHen's 10 Commandments.Worm and dust for lice and mites. It only takes one chicken to infect an entire flock. Follow these guidelines and you will end up with more chickens dying from old age!
 

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