Topic of the Week - Maintaining a Healthy Flock

sumi

Égalité
Staff member
Premium member
8 Years
Jun 28, 2011
39,107
23,964
1,252
Tipperary, Ireland
1000.jpg

Pic by @Chicken Girl1

In spite of our efforts, keeping a flock completely healthy and disease free long term is unfortunately very difficult, if not near impossible. But there are a few things we can do to help reduce the risks of disease outbreaks and health problems in our flocks. This week I would like to hear you all's practices when it comes to keeping your flocks healthy. Specifically:

- Supplements (natural or other), feeding, etc for boosting immune systems and preventing diseases.
- Living conditions, husbandry practices, etc to help prevent disease outbreaks.
- Breeding for disease resistance.


For a complete list of our Topic of the Week threads, see here:

https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/topic-of-the-week-thread-archive
 

Trish1974

Araucana enthusiast
Mar 16, 2016
2,834
6,331
522
North Central IN
My Coop
My Coop
I use natural supplements as preventative medicine. I alternate apple cider vinegar and garlic cloves in their morning water, then switch that out to clean plain water for the afternoon during the week, and give them just plain water as a break on weekends. If I see birds in their run, a lot of migrating birds flying through the area, and during seasonal changes I add non-colloidal silver as a natural antibiotic to their water in a 4 day on/ 3 day off cycle; just in case some kind of infectious bug makes its way to the chickens. I've had my flock for a little over a year now and so far so good.

Edited to add: I am a clean freak when it comes to my coop. I scoop poop every day. The entire bedding gets changed once a week.
 

BantyChooks

Pullarius
Project manager
Premium member
Aug 1, 2015
56,329
166,222
1,707
My Coop
My Coop
If anyone is interested in learning how to keep a flock of chickens healthy long-term, I highly recommend reading as many of @Beekissed 's posts as you can. Others might know more about medicines to treat illnesses, but you'd be hard pressed to find one that can keep a healthier flock.

One thing I recommend from personal experience is letting them free range. It does wonders for your flock's health. I had a massive run, probably close to 800 square feet for 20 birds, but I still noticed a spike in the health of by birds when I quit using it and let them out to free range.

I can't comment much on breeding for disease resistance, seeing I have just started breeding from my own stock, but I can say that yes, you really do need to cull that chronically sick bird. Your whole flock will be better for it.
 

Mama Runner

Songster
Jun 6, 2017
468
1,248
216
Warren County Kentucky
Clean,clean clean...... Along with lots of TLC and love.
1) Clean Water
We use small containers for water and electrolytes. That way we rinse out and fill several times a day so they always have clean water and electrolytes to drink.
2) We use dry hay from our field and clean coop every other day.
3) Lots of TLC. We pick up and inspect the flock one by one at least three times a day. This I believe is the most important part. They get used to being handled, so if they do get sick it is easier to get medicine, and care for them. You can catch illness, mites and bugs quicker because you know your birds and how they look when they are healthy. You know your birds and can tell when they are not feeling right.
3) Clean pools. We keep kiddy pools up even for Chickens and Turkeys. They will cool themselves on hot days by standing in the nice cool water. After morning swim time with the ducks if water is dirty we will clean them out and refill.
4) Good Food. We give our flock a very good variety of food. We give feed in small amounts, for the same reason as water. You can always give more. This way containers stay clean... And so does feed. We allow free range during the day. When you are making veggies or fruit for the humans cut up leftovers or peels for your flock.
5) Have an alternative coop to isolate quickly sick family members. Also have separate feed and water containers for your isolation coop.
6) Keep medicine handy at all times. Time can sometimes really matter when family members are sick. Always keep the electrolytes on hand.

Remember the first and foremost. Prevention is better than losing your loved ones.:love
 

gsim

Songster
10 Years
Jun 18, 2009
1,997
36
196
East Tennessee
I clean my 8x16 ft coop daily in AM. Takes exactly 4 minutes to scrape poop boards and put droppings into plastic tote box and snap lid shut. Far, far, far fewer flies. Dump weekly in garden or where needed, away from chicken run. I also have netting overhead to stop predators and to keep starlings and such from mingling with my flock. No ailments or illnesses in my 9 years to date. :cool:
 

wyoDreamer

Crowing
9 Years
Nov 10, 2010
4,720
5,716
411
NE Wisconsin
Clean,clean clean...... Along with lots of TLC and love.
1) Clean Water
We use small containers for water and electrolytes. That way we rinse out and fill several times a day so they always have clean water and electrolytes to drink.
2) We use dry hay from our field and clean coop every other day.
3) Lots of TLC. We pick up and inspect the flock one by one at least three times a day. This I believe is the most important part. They get used to being handled, so if they do get sick it is easier to get medicine, and care for them. You can catch illness, mites and bugs quicker because you know your birds and how they look when they are healthy. You know your birds and can tell when they are not feeling right.
3) Clean pools. We keep kiddy pools up even for Chickens and Turkeys. They will cool themselves on hot days by standing in the nice cool water. After morning swim time with the ducks if water is dirty we will clean them out and refill.
4) Good Food. We give our flock a very good variety of food. We give feed in small amounts, for the same reason as water. You can always give more. This way containers stay clean... And so does feed. We allow free range during the day. When you are making veggies or fruit for the humans cut up leftovers or peels for your flock.
5) Have an alternative coop to isolate quickly sick family members. Also have separate feed and water containers for your isolation coop.
6) Keep medicine handy at all times. Time can sometimes really matter when family members are sick. Always keep the electrolytes on hand.

Remember the first and foremost. Prevention is better than losing your loved ones.:love
Holy cow! I would never get anything done around the place! I am glad you have that kind of time, maybe when I am retired.

1.) Working 10 hours a day, I need to rely on a large waterer to supply them with enough water for a couple of days. I check it every day so they are never out. If they happen to run out, it is never for more than 10 hours.
3.) Handling 16 chickens - 3 times a day just ain't gonna happen at our place. I scan the flock when I open/close the pop door and when I feed them. Any that look off will get handling as needed.
3.) The dogs have a sheep tank to take a dip in, but the chickens can play in the puddles if they get hot - but they actually seem to prefer to lay in the shade under the roof in their coop, in one of the multitude of holes they have dug in their run, or lined up along the concrete of the barn foundation. When they are free-ranging, they are content scratching in the deep shade of the hedgerow on the warmest days.
4.) My chickens have a trough feeder that I fill twice a day. They are going to get a bulk feeder as soon as I find the time to finish it. Too much food is wasted in the trough feeder when they scratch their bedding into it.

I suggest you check the date on the food bags before you buy it. Too many times I have checked the dates at the store and the feed was getting pretty Old. I can usually tell by the smell when it is over a month old.

Edited to clarify: by YOU, I simply mean anyone with chickens and reading the thread, not any one specific person. It is a general You'all.
 

Izzychicky

Songster
Mar 20, 2017
435
1,614
200
New york
I'm a new chicken owner and this thread has been very helpful. To prevent mites and lice i give my chickens baths once a month, by the way i only have five chickens. I handle my chickens constantly, if i see any odd behavior from my girls i check them out immediately, but so far I haven't had any problems. Oh and when they were chicks I would put i few drops of ACV (apple cider vinegar) in their water.
 

GldnValleyHens

Crowing
Apr 21, 2017
978
2,110
262
Illinois
I think, ( and what I try to do) is to keep a clean and airy coop, feed a healthy diet, supplement with calcium, and herbs and AVC for strong immune health, allow access to dry dust bath areas and treat with DE if needed, and maybe free-range, which provides nutritious greens and bugs as well as mental happiness for the flock. And yes, they are so happy to poo on your clean deck!
 

Verl

In the Brooder
Aug 24, 2017
25
16
41
awesome tips everyone!

those of you putting silver or apple cider vinegar in their water...how much are you putting per gallon? just curious...id like to start doing something preventative for my ladies, too.

also...for DE...how can i get them to dust bath in this when they are free ranging all day and dust bath in my gardens? any ideas?
 
Top Bottom