Chicken Coop Chatter©
Originally published: http://www.backyardpoultrymag.com/backyard-fad-can-lead-to-chicken-abandonment/
May 19, 2015
With more and more people getting involved raising backyard chickens, it’s important to note, that it could lead to a fad rather than a full commitment for some. Once they tire of the fad, it can lead to chicken abandonment and those birds may be released to the wild or dropped at your doorstep.
Hawaii has a large population of abandoned chickens and some places around Florida are also seeing more and more chickens foraging for themselves in parking lots and fast food restaurants. There may be other areas as well and I have heard of chickens being seen in parks around the country.
Just recently we acquired a rooster that was just dropped off at JFA. We offer a rescue service, so those people could simply have walked up the driveway to the door and we would have happily taken the guy in, however that was not the case, JFA was just a convenient place to drop him off seemingly unnoticed.
Once the rooster was caught, he was examined and placed in quarantine along with electrolytes and food, where he will remain for no less than two weeks. Fortunately he was in good health condition, free of physical injury and free of visible parasites, but that may not always be the case.
We would all like to believe people take responsibility for the pets they pick up at pet and farm stores, however, sadly there are some that for one reason or another abandon those animals, leaving them to fend for themselves. But aside from abandonment, chickens tend to be great escape artists, or chased by predators away from their home territory and not return, either from confusion or they’re simply lost and not finding their way back to familiar surroundings, so they are seen in areas where they find shelter and a food source. We have acquired two that simply showed up from nowhere that likely had escaped their own area; either chased away by predators or escaped on their own and lost direction.
Chickens can survive on their own and have been doing it for centuries. It is only in more modern times that chickens have been domesticated and coddled by their care takers. Chickens can fly and seek shelter in tree limbs and they are adept at foraging for worms, bugs and seeds, so even if you are seeing an increase of stray chickens, they are likely doing fine on their own, even nesting and hatching chicks.
The bigger issue is the abandonment and what you need to be aware of if you happen to acquire stray chickens that suddenly seek shelter in your field or backyard. First and foremost do not put your own flock at risk. Chickens spread illnesses and diseases to other fowl and any that have been foraging on their own can be a threat to your flocks.
If you are able to take care of the stray chickens, capture them, examine them for injury, parasites and over all health. Then place them in quarantine with electrolytes, in fact, we make our own electrolyte formula, and good quality feed. Do NOT allow them to mingle with your established flock until they have been quarantined at least 2 weeks to one month to prevent pathogens from spreading to your existing flock. We recommend no less than 2 weeks, because it takes 10-14 days for viruses and illnesses to manifest, so the longer in quarantine, the more assured you will be of their general health. The reason we recommend electrolytes for the first few days is that it is formulated to balance the system. If the birds have been under any stresses, illness or trauma, the electrolytes help prevent those stress related illnesses. After the first few days you can provide regular clean water, but continue to observe the health of the bird. Be sure to wear clothing that is easy to remove as you move from the quarantined bird(s) and your established flock and be sure to use disinfectant wipes on your hands, if there is any physical handling involved, so you are not inadvertently spreading any possible pathogens among your other established birds.
Use Biosecurity methods at all times.
After a full quarantine and clean bill of health, you can attempt integrating with your flock if desired. If you are not able to care for them, then call your local animal control. I have read recently that chickens are showing up in animal shelters and they are being re-homed when possible.
With Easter being just finished, it’s possible that chicks are sold to people as pets for their children, but then discover they are not indoor pets, so be prepared for the possibility of abandoned fowl when those individuals either tire of them or find they are unable to care for them properly.
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