Chicken Coop Chatter©
It has come to our attention, that once again, we must emphasize the necessity in quarantine of chickens and any fowl. Chickens and fowl of all types, domestic and wild, succumb to a variety of illness and disease. These will spread like wildfire through a flock and many, if not caught early enough will wipe out the entire flock.
It does NOT matter where the fowl comes from, whether that is a reputable poultry farm, hatchery, neighbor, friend, or imported from another state or country, a fair, animal swap or from right here at Just Fowling Around. Quarantine is an absolute must to prevent pathogens from being spread and rampantly wiping out your flock. There are natural bacteria and pathogens from one environment to another. What your own flock has adjusted to, may be a death sentence to another flock or any birds you may bring in that have no built up immunity to ward off illness.
We hear from people that they either did not know this, or that they have never quarantined and never lost a chicken. All we can say about this is, you have been very fortunate. There are some very serious diseases that chickens get, that can prevent you from having chickens again, for months or even years. The pathogens from these diseases get into the soil, and there is no way to sterilize that, to prevent it from attacking another flock. We have heard the heart breaking stories from people that did not follow the basic rule of quarantine and by the time they notified us to find out why their flock was dying, it was too late to do anything about it other than strong antibiotics in hopes the birds could be spared.
Some diseases and illnesses can be treated with antibiotics and vaccinations, and this MUST be administered at the first sign of illness. A far better treatment is good animal husbandry with quarantine, clean environment and proper balanced diet. Why take the risks, when quarantine can be your first line of defense against the onset of illness and disease? Some of these diseases and illnesses will remain in the flock even if some of the birds do survive. The remaining birds can and do become carriers. Some even affect the eggs that are laid and chicks will hatch with these illnesses, so this can be a nightmare for generations to come. We know of an individual with a flock that was stricken with Marek's disease months ago, from bringing in one chicken from a bird swap meet and in the excitement, did not quarantine. This individual has shared the heartbreak that she continues to experience through the remaining flock and other birds she has either hatched or introduced since the onset of the disease.
When you purchase your chicks or chickens, be looking at the entire flock you are selecting from. Do you see any eye or foot sores, limping, shaking of the head, or lethargy; these are all symptoms of the onset of illness. It takes from 7 to 14 days for illness to manifest and by this time your entire flock can be infected. It is very costly to treat an entire flock with antibiotics that could have been prevented with simple steps of quarantine.
We offer a fowl rescue service, and we have taken in ducks, geese, pheasant, chukar, and even a crow, as well as a variety of breeds of chickens. We always quarantine, any new arrivals, regarless of the source. We recommend no less than two weeks in quarantine. But we highly suggest up to a month in a quarantined environment for any and all illness or disease to set in.
A quarantine area can be set up in a garden shed, backyard, front yard, or garage, as long as it is set up in an entirely different area from the existing flock. And NO this can not be set up next to an existing coop and run. This must be totally separate. It matters not if you acquire one bird or fifty, it matters not if they appear healthy and illness free, you must quarantine.
People seem to assume that if the flock is free-range or pasture-raised, that it is healthier and disease free from those in an enclosed fencing. This is a misnomer to be sure. Pathogens can attack no matter what environment the chickens are in. In fact a free ranging flock can be even more susceptible than chickens in enclosures, because they are more exposed to wild fowl that succumb to many of the same diseases and illnesses that domestic fowl do. Never assume that an open range environment will prevent illnesses and diseases or that those flocks are healthier.
The poultry industry as a whole, is very vigilant about the care and monitoring of commercial birds. They cannot afford for illness and disease to manifest and they are very aware their entire business can be lost literally overnight as in some other countries where an entire poultry industry had to be incinerated to control New Castle disease or bird flu. You may see this as purely the poultry industry problem or a problem of a poor environment, however let me caution you. IF you allow illness and disease to spread through your flock, you inadvertently can be an active participant in the decimation of an entire industry. These illnesses and diseases do not know borders and boundaries and will spread through your community, state and an entire nation. As always, prevention is the very best medicine and quarantine is that ounce of prevention needed to prevent the onset of a possible devastating illness.
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