THE CHICKEN SITUATION
Well, to make a very long story short, we are culling our chicken flock. This was not an easy decision but a well thought out one. First, let’s talk about what they have. CRD (chronic respiratory disease) is the diagnosis. This disease does not affect the consumption of eggs nor the meat of the birds with the disease (meaning you can eat the eggs and meat with no issues), but long term effects of the lives of the birds is not the best. Clinical signs include coughing, tail bobbing when breathing, emaciation, rales, and sneezing, open mouth breathing, poor growth, decreased feed consumption, lowered egg production and shell quality. Source: Poultry World
So how did our flock get CRD? After talking with a few poultry veterinary providers, we believe it came from a new flock that was introduced to our original one months ago. I thought I had given enough time between introducing everyone together, but it wasn’t and this new flock must have been carriers of the disease. Huge gut punch.
A local lady needed to re-home her flock and I didn’t do my du-diligence in making sure they were at their healthiest before moving everyone together. Live and learn.
CC, one of our Easter Egger chickens.
CAN'T YOU JUST TREAT?
We can but here’s the problem. This disease doesn’t just go away with some antibiotics. Once the chickens have it, they have it for life. It just becomes dormant until some kind of stressor exacerbates the entire process all over again. The best bio-security measure you can take is prevention. Prevention is based largely on obtaining chicks or poults from M gallisepticum-free breeder flocks.
What if our farm wants to sell chicks one day? Well, we can’t very well do that knowing that our entire flock is CRD positive. I’m sure many people do, but that’s not what we’re all about. We want the healthiest livestock humanly possible and that means starting over.
Yes, it sucks but I’m at peace with it. One, I don’t want chickens that are miserable with a raspy cough, sneezing, and just all around not feeling 100%. Two, I feel like it’s our job to provide the public (and even our own family) with the purest of forms of food (ie: eggs, meat, etc).
We will depopulate (cull) the entire flock, let the land rest through the winter and early spring, disinfect every single piece of chicken equipment we have, and order chicks in the late spring. We will be ordering all of our chicks from Murray McMurray Hatchery where they take the biosecurity very very seriously. As do we.
Every chicken owner on the planet will have an opinion on this, trust me, I know. That being said, we are confident in our decision and know it’s the best choice for us.
The only thing that got me though the devastating news was that the veterinarian stated we did everything right. The apple cider vinegar, the organic feed, the pasture rotating…all of it. This one choice to bring a new flock onto our land is what started this crazy mess. I tell you this to hopefully educate so you don’t make the same mistake as we did.
Mr. Pendleton is off of the farm for 3 weeks on a work education trip, Ryder (our 16 year old) officially moved into his school for the next 2 years (amazing program), and so the little people and myself are holding down the fort (farm).
Everyone is back in school, my busy season is getting ready to begin in my business, and I look forward to the cooler weather.
I have pulled everything that is finished growing, with the exception of the luffa gourds and peppers (I swear those peppers will never stop). The luffa plants are unlike anything I have ever seen. I’m saving seeds from them for next year and I can’t wait to see how this whole process finishes out. They are HUGE. I will end up growing these next year on an arbor entering the garden spot.
Garden plans for next year are well under way. We have chosen a plot of land that will become our permanent garden space complete with fencing around the entire area to keep nosy chickens and ducks out. Four large poles will also surround the area so that I can fulfill my dream of hanging lights up around this magic place.
A beginning plan for the front cottage gardens.
Next month is going to be slammed. I’ll be gone on business 2 or 3 of all the weekends, we need to cull the chickens, get lime added to all the pastures for next year cover crop seed planting, and begin the cleaning process of everything, but we’re still so grateful for this life.