When illness hits the entire house at the same time…

…the animals still need care. Here are a few tips on how we manage large numbers of poultry with minimal care. Plus, we provide some information about our experiences with using natural methods to treat illness in chickens…we weren’t the only ones sick this week.

This past week, the entire farm-house was down…food poisoning that hit us all within a few hours. Even when we are all attached to the bathroom &/or a trash can for 24+ hours and then moving at half pace for several more days, our 95 chickens, 23 ducks, 6 geese, and 6 guineas still need to be fed, watered, and turned-out/locked-up. Luckily, we had already implemented several ways to help ease the time commitments required to keep up with 10 different coops.20gal

Probably the best poultry accessories that we have to date are our custom-made 20 gallon watering buckets (right). What a lifesaver they were this week!

We have tried a few different kinds of waterers, but none have been as successful in keeping the water clean and the surrounding area dry. We highly recommend using these watering cups for your chickens, turkeys, guinea fowl, and other similar poultry. [We do not recommend as the only water source for waterfowl.]

We have also installed several different kinds of feeders in our coops with 10 or more birds. We have installed wall-mounted feeders (below) in two coops with the least floor space which have worked well. They are a little pricey, but worth it for us because they do hold a large amount. 20160903_162155

In our largest coop, we created a custom-built feeder (below) that fit the space and holds a full 50lb bag or more of layer pellet feed. To make sure the feed stays pest and moisture free, we converted a clear Ziploc Weather Shield storage tote into a feeder with a large pvc pipe feed dispenser. We do have to occasionally rake the pellets to the center to fall down the pipe, but it works great overall – sure beats having to haul a heavy feeder to the other side of the lot every 5-6 days! The foam seal around the tote keeps feed fresh and dry long enough for it to be consumed, and it’s easy to tell how much feed is left since it’s clear. We plan to make another similar feeder for another large coop in the coming weeks.

Unfortunately, last Saturday – the day before the house fell to illness – we had just started treating one of our hens in the coop with our oldest birds. Our 5-year-old white Marans, Snowball, was showing some respiratory congestion – very raspy, heavy breathing but no sneezing/coughing or mucus discharge, and quickly we pulled out all the stops in hopes making this a short and isolated problem. Saturday afternoon, Mama Mo applied VetRx to Snowball’s comb & wattles and under both wings. 20160903_162251

We also mixed up a special gallon of “medicated” water. We have had great success with Durvet’s DuraStat (right), a water-soluble combination of natural herbs like oregano. We normally don’t keep water inside the coop, but when we treat with the DuraStat, we leave it in the coop overnight – a good dose first thing in the morning seems to work quite well.

Additionally, late Saturday night, Mama Mo dosed Snowball with our own custom natural oils blend (below), and it’s a really good thing because this was the only treatments she received before we were all down for the count! We are happy to report that by the time we were able to get back out there to do more than open/close a coop door, she was fine.

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How do you handle being down and not able to take care of your livestock? We’d love to hear ways that help you get through the rough times.

Also, do you use natural methods to treat your chickens when they are ill? Tell us about your experiences!



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