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(46 Posts)
tortoiseSHELL Mon 02-Jul-07 13:39:12

Can you sort my head out please? You know I've had this total chicken disaster (recap below) - well I don't know what to do now - can you advise me please? I couldn't get to sleep for fretting last night till after 3am, and have been reading poultry sites all night. I need help before dh divorces me for obsessing about chickens!!!

So, the situation is, I bought 3 chickens last weekend, 1 got sick and died within 3-4 days. Currently awaiting PM results to find out what it died of. The place we got it from say we can have another hen, since then I found a poultry forum that basically says don't go near the place, although another one says how wonderful it is. I think I WOULD like another hen, as dd is sad her chicken died, and would like one.

SO my options are...

1. Get another hen from the same place and hope for the best, give it a week in quarantine (rabbit hutch) then introduce to the others.

2. Get another hen from somewhere different - I just spoke to a really nice lady, and she was quite hesitant about letting me have 1 hen, but she's got some 20wk old goldlines which she said would be able to stand up for themselves, as my 2 aren't laying yet, and have only been in a week. Again, could quarantine for a week near the coop, or could just put straight in.

3. Get 2 little hens so they can stick up for themselves. The downside of this is I don't think the run is big enough, so we could extend the run.

4. Stick at 2. But if 1 dies, then the other one will be lonely, and it might be harder to introduce a new one or two then.

AAAARGH. What do I do? THe place I got the original one from should, imo, refund me the money for the hen plus the vet bill AND the PM bill, but they have said they don't do refunds, just give you another bird. I just keep going round in circles with all this.

My low point was when the vet at the place where they do the PM suggested it was salmonella and that the other 2 would probably have it, and our children might have picked it up, and really we should dig over our whole garden to make sure it was safe. I just wasn't expecting this. Maybe I'm just a bit naive, but this seems an awful lot of stress. Having said that I love the 2 remaining chickens, they're so sweet! And I'm sure they will start laying soon (I'm all paranoid now that this place has sold me dud chickens!!!).

tortoiseSHELL Mon 02-Jul-07 13:52:06


tortoiseSHELL Mon 02-Jul-07 14:18:55

Cluck cluck - any chicken people around?

moopymoo Mon 02-Jul-07 14:24:13

we have kept chickens on and off for many years - im no expert however. my insinct would be that its fairly likely the other two will get sick - i would wait a while - maybe 2 weeks - before getting and more. and i would not get them from the same place, im not surprised that they wont pay vets bills etc although it is a bit annoying, poultry farmers just generally neck sick birds and think no more of it. we have introduced birds of different ages, species and size at different times with little trouble although they will sometimes feather peck weaker birds if food or space is short. hth. hens are great pets i find. our problems tend to be fox related round here!

tortoiseSHELL Mon 02-Jul-07 14:58:37

moopymoo - thanks for your reply. The other two hens look fine atm, and the other chicken was showing signs (with hindsight) straightaway, so it's been 8 days, and we wouldn't get a hen before the weekend anyway, and then would keep it in quarantine for a week or so, so I think we'd be ok on that score.

Normally I would agree with you about vets bills, but the place we got them from is specifically aimed at domestic not commercial poultry. But I'm going to wait and see what the PM says - if it was something nasty then I think they should pay, but if just bad luck then I think they should refund the price of the chicken - altogether this chicken will have cost us about £85 plus some distress for my 3 year old (although that's a risk you take when you get your children pets).

tortoiseSHELL Mon 02-Jul-07 15:23:45

Hmm, even more confused now, the original place ALSO have 20wk Goldlines - and will let me have one in place of the leghorn. Don't know what to do now.

StripeyKnickersSpottySocks Mon 02-Jul-07 16:17:26

Personally I would stick at 2, at least for the next couple of months. If then your 2 are ok you could think about getting more, but I would say get 2 more, not just one. If you get one it will be badly bullied and pecked for the rest of its life and it wil be miserable.

I used to have 3 chickens, got them on the same day, 2 from one pen, the other was in a different pen. I tought they would be ok as they came to their new home at the same time. But the poor one that had been by itself was always getting pecked and spent tis life bloody and scabby. It did get a bit better after a few weeks, as lng as it didn't go near the other 2. If t went to close then it was atatcked, but at least they stopped chasing it.

How big is your run? I have just 2 now and wouldn't get another yet. When one of these 2 die then I will get 2 new ones.

tortoiseSHELL Mon 02-Jul-07 17:37:17

The run really isn't big enough for 4, I think that would be asking for trouble. If it weren't for dd then I would be tempted to stick at the 2, but it was her chicken that died and she really wants another (I know, spoilt children and all that) - I got the hens for her really, she loves caring for animals etc.

tortoiseSHELL Mon 02-Jul-07 18:25:53

Just spoke to vet, haven't got a confirmed diagnosis yet, but they think it was salmonella - what does this mean for the other chickens? And also for introducing another? So many questions...!

MrMaloryTowers Mon 02-Jul-07 18:29:49

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

tortoiseSHELL Mon 02-Jul-07 18:38:57

I will be so glad when this is all sorted!

MegaLegs Mon 02-Jul-07 18:39:15

Tricky one. I've not had experience of this myself. First of all if the other two chickens were going to get sick I think they would have shown signs by now.

I wonder why the vet couldn't be certain it was salmonella from the PM.

I have screaming children will be bacl later. to try and help.

tortoiseSHELL Mon 02-Jul-07 18:40:53

Megalegs, they're just growing the culture to confirm it - the vet said there was white speckling on the liver and some bleeding in the gut. They're quite concerned about the children coming into contact with the chickens(which is annoying as it was largely FOR the childrens that we got them!!!!)

MegaLegs Mon 02-Jul-07 19:26:40

In that case I would avoid the place you got them from as it's likely she had it when you got her.

Did she wander in the garden? Is that why it's been suggested you dig it over or is that because the vet thinks that's where the source of the salmonella is?

I would wait for PM result. Keep an eye on other two but think they would have displayed symptoms by now. If all clear buy 2 and extend your run.

What a shame your having all this hassle - chickens are meant to be stress free. This crappy weather doesn't help.

What's the poultry forum you go on?

MrMaloryTowers Mon 02-Jul-07 20:26:13

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

portonovo Mon 02-Jul-07 21:21:23

Try Practical Poultry forum

portonovo Mon 02-Jul-07 21:24:09

There's also a livestock section (including chickens) on the self sufficientish forum

MintyDixCharrington Mon 02-Jul-07 21:46:45

oh god what a pain

I'd cull the other two chickens immediately so as not to risk (a) children getting it (b) ground being really buggered, go back and get your money back for all three, (if there are any difficulties muse within earshot whether salmonella is notifiable to defra), disinfect the chicken house, give it a couple of months and get some more from somewhere else

SUCH bad luck! poor you

tortoiseSHELL Mon 02-Jul-07 22:26:52

I've been on Practical Poultry! I think what I'll do is to wait for the final autopsy report, and then perhaps try and get the other two tested - there is a place that will test chicken poo - what a nice job that must be!!!

What I don't know is, given that chickens often do seem to keel over and die (judging from the forums!!!), presumably they aren't all tested, so is this a problem that I've created by trying to find out too much info? Is this a normal situation, or is it really extreme?

PPH - that makes sense, but I really don't want to cull them, but the children are more important!

Megalegs - the chicken didn't go anywhere in the garden, the run was just on the lawn, we absolutely thoroughly cleaned everywhere it had been, inside the run, disinfected it all, and it's rained SO much that I don't believe there's any remnant. That's not such a bad idea about extending the run and getting two you know....

MintyDixCharrington Mon 02-Jul-07 22:35:45

I really think you should cull them
not worth the cost of testing IMO
you don't have to tell the children what has happened, tell them you gave them to the vet to look after in case they got ill.

Honestly, I'd start again with three from somewhere else entirely. It ISN'T common at all, and would you be happy eating eggs from those chickens? I wouldn't!

tortoiseSHELL Mon 02-Jul-07 22:36:36

You could be right - won't do anything though till final diagnosis comes through. Keep fingers crossed it's not that won't you!

MintyDixCharrington Mon 02-Jul-07 22:38:48

yes I hope it isn't - salmonella in your first chickens is TOO unlucky!

tortoiseSHELL Mon 02-Jul-07 22:40:37

(I think I may have gone to a bad place you know - I hadn't thought of poultry forums, but I should have done - the place we went to looked really good - promotes itself as 'committed to preserving breeds etc' and has a snazzy new building and visitor centre, but Practical Poultry forum really slates it. The Omlet forum really like it though.)

TheDuchessOfNorks Mon 02-Jul-07 23:20:49

Hi tshell. Only just seen this.

I'm torn between culling and waiting it out. I don't know much about salmonella in terms of incubation periods or how long a hen can carry the disease before succumbing to it. I certainly wouldn't want to eat the eggs though.

I would imagine that your garden is clear if the hens have stayed in the pen, you've disinfected it and it has rained a bit lately.

I would definitely use a different poultry supplier.

I often introduce new hens to our flock and have never had long term problems. I put 4 new small hens (20 wks) in with my old girls (2/3 yrs) last night - after dark - and they all snuggled up together except for a flighty speckledy who has chosen to sleep in a nesting box. The youngsters kept away from the flock for most of the day but they're not being pecked and have been eating etc. We did have a bullying hen but she carked it last week - but she only pecked the others if they tried to eat before her.

Sorry I don't have an easy and straightforward answer for you. It is an unlucky start to keeping chickens, it's not usually like this!

tortoiseSHELL Tue 03-Jul-07 12:12:45

Ok, this is my plan after much agonising. Basically, soppy as it sounds, I really don't want to have to cull the chickens. Even if we can't eat the eggs. So I'm going to wait for the PM results, get some advice from the vet, and if it turns out to be salmonella get the other two screened for it. One of them is a Black Rock, and I've read in several sources that salmonella has NEVER been found in any Black Rock hen in UK, which gives me hope that it may be resistant. So even if it means moving them off the garden and making an 'isolation pen' it should be ok. The hens looks absolutely fine, and if they DO have salmonella, then moving them off the garden should avoid contaminating the rest of the garden.

What a stress!!!! I keep having very tearful moments about it, and am not sleeping at night because of it, I'm staying awake till after 3 thinking about chickens. I think once I know exactly what we're dealing with and what the vet's advice is then I'll be happier. Thanks for all your advice!

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