Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Biosecurity - One Method of Introducing New Birds to Your Flock

By Vicki -

I understand that some folks believe in *tossing* new chickens (from outside sources) in to let nature take its course, let the fit survive etc. (nothing wrong with this).

I do not.

I would never, ever purchase a bird and bring it into my flock. I never have. I did not do it with my horses, goats, sheep, or any other live stock. Even with the purchase of a new dog or cat I took it to the vet or had the vet come out and check them first. Since I do not take my chickens to the vet or have the vet examine my chickens, I do it myself.

I keep the new birds in a different building (quarantined) for two weeks. After two weeks, I introduce one of my birds into the building with the new birds. That does two things;

1.   You can have separate coops and everyone looks and acts healthy and nothing will pop up. Introduce a new bird and you can have some serious issues. I would rather cull the introduced bird and new birds than my whole flock.

2.   My existing flock has resistance to my land and the new birds need to acquire that same resistance (if they don’t already have it). The bird I put in with them helps add to the new birds’ resistance. If they act and look good for two more weeks, it is good to go.

In order not to become a carrier of disease, I use red rubber shoes for one coop and yellow ones for the other coop. They go into the dishwasher and clean really nicely. I do not change cloths when I go from coop to coop, just the shoes. I do not wear my shoes off the property. I specifically chose shoes that practically glow in the dark so I would not be tempted to *just* run to the store. These shoes are pretty gross colored.

During the winter I have one pair of barn boots. Those do not leave the property. I have hand sanitizer in each coop. I do not handle a chicken without it. I have the kind that you rip open the package and have a wipe for winter. I do not handle eggs that I am going to hatch with bare hands, I use gloves. For eating it does not matter. During winter months I always had one barn, this year I have two and I have not practiced bio security since the first freeze. i am taking a calculated risk. Same shoes. No one is allowed near my chickens without shoe booties or spray to be with the chickens if they have chickens on their own property.

I have had only one of my birds act off when introduced to new birds once in all my years keeping chickens, and find this quarantine method works best. That time I simply culled out the birds since I have no idea what it was and I was not going to deal with whatever it was. I did an autopsy and found nothing, however since I did not know… I simply over cooked the meat and composted it. It is better to cull one of my birds than my whole flock.

I do not believe in lets *wait* and see when it comes to illness. If a bird is *off,* there is something wrong. I either find out what it is that day or the bird is culled. I sometimes let my emotions wait it out and I have usually regretted it. It is usually an older hen that I have affection for. Then I beat myself up for letting it suffer. I am human and I sometimes let my *girl* feelings make my decisions... LOL

Leigh says - 

So - how do you introduce new birds? We'd love to hear your thoughts!

 (The two *molting* Silkies pictured throughout this post are currently in quarantine on Leigh's property - a Christmas gift for her daughter.)


  1. It feels weird to post on my own post.
    Thank you for all your hard work!


    1. LOL! And Thank YOU for such great information and insight!

  2. great idea to have coop shoes that are so ugly that you wouldn't be willing to wear them in public!

    I've always quarantined, but never thought of the idea of using a chicken from the current flock as a canary/tester. makes sense!

  3. I've only introduced new birds twice. After quarantine, once I put the 3 new birds in with the others after dark. There wasn't much of a commotion and things went smoothly the next morning. The 2nd time, (now) didn't work. I still have 2 coops. Thanks for the wonderful info. I, for one, got very lax in biosecurity. Thankfully, all is ok.

  4. Great article Vicki! I have "coop clothes" which I wear if I'm working in there. Clothes that can get dirty if I have to pick someone up or kneel in the coop to retrieve the egg laid under the nesting boxes. I also have a pair of shoes in the coop to change into from street shoes. I know I'm taking a risk wearing street shoes into the coop even if I don't wear them into the chicken area. Will definitely change into my polka dot rain boots, from now on, that stay on the property. I have no problem wearing them out & about but my family prefers not to be seen with me when I do. :)

  5. Very helpful article Vicki. I'm glad you brought this subject up, because my family laughs at me. I keep hand sanitizer in the coop and run and I have dedicated boots that I wear and so does my DH. When the grandkids come over, I put plastic grocery bags over their shoes and then just toss them in the burn pit when they go. And if anyone goes in with their shoes on, I have a spray bottle of bleach that they have to use before they come anywhere near my house. Clothes I'm a little more lax with, but I have 'coop clothes' that are washed daily.

  6. I don't use biosecurity measures at all. I'm one of those throw them into the mix people because I am very sure of my flock's immune systems hardiness and I want to only add birds with the same hardiness. If the new bird sickens and dies, I wouldn't want them anyway. If my flock gets sick~and it never has~then I haven't done my job properly and I need to go back to the drawing board on natural husbandry.

  7. Ok have 4 cream legbar chicks they are 6 weeks old in a large pen with a broody hen and other adult hens, a week ago 1 chick went started limbing
    Then the next day could not walk one day after that a second chick was limbing, so I have separated​ them from all the hens (including the broody hen who does not want to have anything to do with them now) have been putting AC Vinegar in water helping the two sick ones to eat and drink twice a day,all 4are thin but have good appetites, only they do not like to eat the chick crumb ? But will eat fresh sweet corn, cabbage and sunflower hearts, so to increase the protein level I am cutting the corn and then mixing it with chick crumb .it has been 7 days now and they are no better or worse ? What is wrong with them ? And what can I do ? Would medicated feed help ?. I have googled and only found 2 possible diseases Marek's and coccidiosis but if it's Marek's would they have died by now ?
    Please can anyone help and advise me what is best to do ? I have 12eggs in the incubator due to hatch in 7days 😱 don't want this to happen to them . Looking forward to your reply many thanks.

    1. Deborah - it sounds to me like the chicks were injured by the hens. You can separate the injured chicks to give their legs time to heal. Just like when a human gets an injured leg, they need to rest the leg and not walk about too much.
      Be sure your chicks have enough heat. The broody hen kept them warm for the first week but now they will need a heat lamp in a brooder to keep them safe and warm.

      Marek's takes at least 6 months to develop so I wouldn't worry about that. Coccidiosis is always a concern with chicks, but it does not make them limp. Usually with coccidiosis chicks will puff up, become lethargic and there may be blood in the poop.

      From what you are telling me, it sounds like the hens hurt the chicks somehow.
      Best of luck!


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