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.)