Managing Your Chicken Flock
Managing your urban flock, or any sized flock for that matter is very important. It is not something to be taken lightly. The health of your chickens could very well be at stake if you don’t manage them properly and provide an acceptable level of animal husbandry.
It is important that the coop or house have proper ventilation to provide fresh air. Chickens breathing and watering trays and dropping cans cause humidity to build up.
Clean food and water is very important. Clean any water dishes that are soiled regularly. Waterers are a good idea as they help keep water cleaner thana crock would laying on the ground.
Always keep a clean and sanitary coop or run. Raking or sweeping out the floors and cleaning droppings boards are important chores for cleanliness. Try to provide a dry run for your birds to scratch around in. Don’t let mud and muck accumulate.
You must absolutely practice proper bio security. Never buy, trade, or sell a bird that has an illness. Never wear your coop shoes to the feed store, another farm, or anywhere else for that matter. If you do proper disinfect your shoes. Common chicken diseases are easily spread through shoes.
If you have a self sustaining flock, or a closed flock, that would be best. You cannot always have a closed flock, as you would need to bring in new bloodlines. There are precautions you can take when introducing new birds.
Quarantine all new birds for at least 30 days. Keep them away from your other birds, preferable far away from your flock. Use separate shoes to feed, separate water and food utensils, etc. to minimize contamination. Quarantine will not be a cure all but it is a tool in prevention.
Chickens do not get colds. Most times a discharge from the nose or eyes and or a discharge that smells bad could a respiratory virus. Even though they live through it possibly they will continue to spread the disease to other birds.
Many diseases chickens get require for best practice to cull them. Even though they make it through they can still be carriers and threaten your future chickens. If you sell or trade these birds they will infect the new owners flock too. If you cannot bring yourself to cull these birds have someone else do it for you. If even still you cannot do that, you must warn anyone that gets eggs, chicks, or chickens from you that they are carriers of a deadly disease.
Try to avoid antibiotics if you can. Antibiotics used frequently can lose their effectiveness just like in humans. If you don’t have to use it try not to.
Feeding the proper diet is important for proper growth and egg laying. There is a proper diet for most every facet of a chickens needs. Whether it be a chick, growing into laying size, or a breeding bird. Check and provide the appropriate dietary needs of your birds.
Protection from predators will greatly reduce your risk of losing a chicken. Providing ample floor space will help them get along better and be less stressful. Overcrowding can lead to problems in and of itself.
Regularly look at the chickens for lice, mites, and injuries. Become accustomed to each bird and theur common behaviours. This will help you detect early symptoms of a problem.
There are many good books about chicken diseases and animal husbandry. Take the time to aquaint yourself with at least the basic knowledge of chicken ailments before something gets out of hand. There are many good resources to learn the specifics of the diseases, maladies, and care of the chicken.