Poultry are great to have around. They provide both eggs and meat, and some people even keep them for pets due to their entertaining antics. Buying and keeping healthy animals can be difficult, though, so keep reading to find out how to get healthy birds and keep them that way.
Always inspect animals for sale before paying for them to be sure that they’re healthy. New birds should be active but not too noisy; a very noisy bird is usually hungry or in pain. They should react if you touch them rather than standing there listlessly. The eyes should be bright and clear with no foam or bubbles in the corner, and the feathers should be mostly clean, especially on the rear end. Healthy animals will groom themselves, so dirty poultry for sale are usually sick.
There are a few signs of illness that you should be sure to look for. Watch out for birds that are panting or fluffed up. They could just be hot or cold, but if they are panting or fluffed in normal weather, they are likely to be sick. Don’t buy any bird with a twisted beak, missing toes, or cloudy eyes, and avoid anything that has an open wound or patches of missing feathers.
Even if you carefully look for signs of disease, it’s a good idea to keep new chickens separate from any birds that you already have for two weeks to make sure that they’re healthy. Try not to share equipment such as food buckets or shovels between the two flocks, since the equipment could transfer disease. If possible, try to keep ducks and geese separate from land birds like chickens and turkeys. Chickens get sick a lot easier than waterfowl do, and they can’t handle the moisture that the wet birds can track in.
A good diet can go a long way toward keeping your flock healthy. Commercial feed is well-balanced and makes it easy to have a disease-free flock, but you can do it with a home-made diet, too. Make sure that the food you give your birds has a lot of protein and not too much fat. Stick to grains, fruits, and vegetables as much as you can. A little meat is okay, but stay away from dairy products, because that can cause diarrhea and dehydration.
Particularly good foods for chickens are pumpkins and other squashes, since the seeds are full of protein, and cooked eggs. It might seem weird to feed eggs to birds, but they have a lot of protein and vitamins. Be sure to cook the eggs before feeding them to chickens; if you give them raw eggs, the birds could get used to the taste and start eating their own eggs. Worms and insects are also great for poultry. Crickets and meal worms are easily farmed at home, so they can supply both a feed source for your own chickens and extra money if you sell them to other flock-owners.
If you have egg-laying chickens, be sure to supply a dish of crushed egg shells so that they get enough calcium. Put it in a separate dish from the regular food so that younger chicks don’t eat it since too much calcium can cause bone problems in developing birds.
Fresh water is very important for keeping animals healthy. Dirty water containers can contain feces or mold which will make birds sick. Unless you have a nipple waterer, clean water containers daily.
A good coop will have a secure roof and tight walls to keep out the rain, and the fence should be tight. Even household pets such as cats can be a danger to small birds, so be careful. If you can’t build a secure fence for your birds, consider getting a large rooster to live with them. A rooster can fight off cats and other small predators to keep the hens safe.
In addition to having a safe coop, you should also keep it clean and dry. Wet or dirty bedding provide breeding grounds for parasites like coccidia that could kill your whole flock. Even minor parasites will stress your birds and make it difficult for them to produce eggs or grow fast, so clean the coop regularly.
Overcrowding can also be a problem. Each bird should have about one square meter of space outside. If you have too little space, there could be fighting, feather-picking, and fast spread of disease, so try not to pack too many birds in a small area.
It can be tricky to keep chicks healthy. Medicated feed will help them to stay free of parasites. If they appear to be listless or overheated, they may be dehydrated, use an electrolyte solution. Add a pinch of baking soda, a pinch of table salt, and a small spoonful of sugar to a liter of water. Offer this mixture in a separate container from their regular water so that they can choose which they want.
If you’re selling the chicks, potential buyers will want to see your poultry for sale, but try not to let them hold the birds since they could be carrying diseases, especially if they have their own poultry at home. Having animals for sale can be a great way to make a little extra money, but you need to be sure that you don’t introduce a disease.
Watch for Disease
Even if you’ve taken all the precautions to have healthy animals, you should keep an eye out for problems. Look for issues like lethargy, weight loss, pale skin, and loss of appetite. Additionally, try to look at the droppings now and again. Diarrhea, blood, foam, or a yellow color could mean that you have a parasite problem.
Birds are good at hiding sickness. By the time one looks ill, it’s probably too late to do anything for it, so it’s best to get rid of it before it infects the rest of your flock.
Owning chickens and other birds is great for food, money, and fun. As long as you’re careful to avoid problems, you can enjoy your healthy birds for years to come.