by Donna McGlasson from Gardens & Chickens & Worms, Oh My!
Since I am adding five new chicks to my flock count, safety and security are foremost in my mind. Now I realize that in the days before we knew what bio security meant or how poultry diseases and parasites affected our chickens, people added to their flock without a thought.
|Charlotte – Bantam White-crested Polish|
|Hattie – Frizzled Tolbunt Polish|
|Olive – Tolbunt Polish|
|Minnie – Frizzled Tolbunt Polish|
|Sarah – Bantam White-crested Polish|
I am particularly fond of my original three girls, Mildred, Mabel & Pearl, and the thought of loosing them needlessly because of my own carelessness would break my heart and I’d never forgive myself. So while I understand that many people would find my actions overkill, I’m still taking extra precautionary steps to protect all my chickens old and new. I now have ten chickens total with the new babies.
With that said, my new chicks come from a reputable breeder/farm but I will still quarantine them away from my existing flock to ensure everyone is and stays healthy.
These precautions may not work for you and that’s alright. I’m taking in to account where I live, in the mountains in a very rural area, my coop & run set up and my conscience. Here are the methods I use when adding to my flock.
1) I clean out a large animal carrier (german shepherd size) with water & bleach, rinsing thoroughly and then towel drying it inside out. I put it in my garage immediately and let it completely dry.
2) I also bring my chick feeder and nipple waterer in the house soak them and then sterilize them in the dishwasher.
3) I make sure I have chick starter feed, and little packages of electrolytes for the new babies if needed.
4) My flock is contained, for predator safety reasons, in a covered run at the other end of my ranch style house. The new chicks will be kept away from my original flock for at least 30 days. Basements are also great for this purpose, I unfortunately do not have one. At this time of year, the garage door and windows will be open or closed as needed. We have hot days and cool nights.
5) Anytime I go between the two setups my coop/run and the new chicks, especially if I am doing it in succession , I will change shoes, wash my hands & arms thoroughly and change outer clothing.
- Right about now some people are rolling their eyes and that’s alright with me. I change clothes because almost everyday I sit in the run with my existing flock. Two of older girls will jump up on my leg and sit. They dust bathe at my feet, peck at my clothes and of course, I’m always touching and checking them for any issues and loving on them.
- With the new chicks, I will hold them a lot and get them used to me handling them, loving on them and checking them for issues.
- Coccidiosis – which can be passed between chickens through their droppings
- Lice & Mites – provide dust baths and check your flock at least once a month, I do it about once a week
- Worms – several kinds, sanitary conditions can help prevent and lessen the chances of these to some extent
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measures and getting educated about bio security and issues that can affect your feathered family members. For education through books, refer to Gail Damerow’s books, Storey’s Guide to Raising Chickens, The Chicken Health Handbook and The Chicken Encyclopedia. From online sources learn from other bloggers and chicken communities who are well known for correct information.
I have an established flock of 8 hens, and just purchased a dozen new chicks that I have in a separate indoors brooder. I have the chicks on the floor of my laundry room, in a large plastic tub (two of the older ones are in a large cardboard homemade ‘brooder’). I’ve noticed that their instincts kick in when I bend down to care for them: they all freeze, or go into the ‘run away from the predator!’ mode. I am starting to try to feed them a bit out of my hand while sitting on the floor. How can I ‘break’ these young chickies of their fear for me. I believe that if I don’t learn how to teach them not to fear me, they’ll grow up afraid of people. Thanks!
A rooster may not care if hens fight but in most cases he would not tolerate it. All the birds will go after what appears to be an invader or one that acts as if it does not belong or acts unlike the others.
Then when/if you go to add these to your existing flock after the 30 days, it helps to keep the newbies in a more open dog crate (not plastic but wire, with an added solid ceiling of a board) for a week so that the old ladies can see their invaders are not aggressive and get used to them, and the newbies can get used to the surroundings so that they will not immediately go into ‘victim’ mode. After the old flock goes up to roosts in the evening you might let the new birds out to explore one evening until the old ladies come down to peck on them, then put the new ones away again. Repeat next evening until the new ones all find the food and water. Then add some non-toxic tree branches to make a jungle with obstacles to escape older birds, and try letting the newbies out all night with a light on, when the old ladies have gone up to roosts and will stay there (do not get in the habit of putting out fresh feed at night or they’ll come down expecting it). Come out early in the morning or check once mid-night. Put newbies back in crate for another day. Next try full integration on a weekend when you can check often. Keep close watch for serious pecking behaviors, like finding one of the new ones in a corner with its head down (victim behavior). Separate as needed back into the crate. Repeat sequence until the flock accepts the bottom-rung newbie and lets it eat and drink all day. Keep fresh greens and tree branches coming for distraction. Make pen bigger if needed.