Saturday, April 25, 2015

Call to the USDA

Well, this week was rather annoying. Sally died last Saturday and then this week, one of my nine-week-old baby chickens just up and died on Thursday. I have another chick, Jim Bob, who is droopy and seems to be acting like the other one did before it died. I had treated the chicks and Steve with Corid for coccidiosis, but the chick still died. With that, I figured it was about time to report my sick birds.

The USDA has a "sick bird" hotline based out of Kandiyohi County so I called that and spoke to one of the veterinarians. He was a nice fellow from Kansas who is up here working this now proclaimed "state of emergency" by Governor Dayton. Anyhow, he asked a lot of questions about the birds' symptoms, when it started, about the birds that died. He said that since I don't have a huge amount of birds dying it could very well just be a respiratory disease like I originally suspected. He said that he would have the field agent call me in the morning (today) to see how things went over night.

We also talked about the process on how they go about testing the birds. They have an agent go to the farm and take samples from several birds- ones displaying symptoms and healthy birds. They take the samples in to be tested and then the USDA keeps in contact with the farmer to monitor the birds in the mean time. If the results come back negative, nothing happens other than some education on trying to keep your birds safe from the bird flu with taking biosecurity precautions, etc.

If the birds do test positive, your property is quarantined. They will then take inventory of your flock and appraise the value of each bird based on their age, purpose, etc., and draw up an appraisal that both the farmer and USDA signs. They will compensate you for your birds, euthanize the entire flock and dispose of their bodies. I didn't ask how they actually euthanize, but someone in a chicken group I'm a part of said that they had been using fireman's foam to euthanize the massive turkey farms that have been effected.

After the birds are disposed of, you are given specific instructions on how to sanitize and disinfect your farm. Until that is completed to the USDA's standards, you may not have any poultry at that location. Once your farm is cleared, you may have poultry there again and start over.

The vet told me that they have tested many, many backyard flocks and only one had come up positive for the bird flu, so my chances are pretty low that it's what my birds have (THANKFULLY!). He said that they won't be able to tell me what my birds have if it's not the flu because they are only testing for the flu virus.

I went out to check my birds this morning. No one died, but Jim Bob is still a bit droopy and there are about 3 birds that are coughing and sniffling. 

The field agent called me this morning at 7 to check in. I gave him a report of how they did overnight and the symptoms that are currently being exhibited. He said that my flock is unlikely to have the bird flu, but he wants to take some samples just to make sure. He is out taking samples from several flocks this weekend and when he gets closer to my area, he will stop by and take some swabs. 

So other than that, things are going okay. My newest 1.5 week old ducklings, who are being kept on a completely different property from the sick flock, are doing well and are growing like weeds. The two pekins have gotten big and the little black ducks are still cute as can be. I plan to keep them completely separate until I know what's going on with my flock.

That's all for now and I'll report back after the test results are back.

Friday, April 17, 2015

RIP Sally

Sally is the bird who had all the fluid build-up in her abdomen. Yesterday, I noticed the poor girl seemed pretty lethargic and I checked out her belly. She was very thin and her belly was full of fluid again. I had actually planned to put her down this weekend, but I found her dead in the coop this afternoon. She was one of my favorites. She was a sweet little Buff Orpington who was friendly and would sit on my lap. :(

I went to Tractor Supply Company today with the intention to bring home 10 meat birds, but the chicks that were there were spoken for, so I brought home 3 Swedish and 2 Pekin ducklings. The Swedish have THE CUTEST little black feet. They are just adorable. I put a little dish of water in their brooder and when I came back to check on them, three of them were SWIMMING in it!!! They are so cute. My heart is happy.

One of my two month old chicks was acting weird when I went out to the coop. She was sleeping in the food dish by herself and seemed a lethargic. I hope she's not ill. I'll keep an extra eye on her this weekend. She was pretty droopy, so I think I will give her and the two sneezing Barred Rocks some antibiotics tomorrow. I hope these babies haven't  already caught the respiratory disease that my other birds have. Part of the reason I chose to get new baby ducklings is because they are pretty disease resistant, so I won't have to worry about them getting sick.

I'm trying to get someone lined up to butcher my flock so I can clean the coop and disinfect. I am considering buying a chicken tractor to house my babies while the coop is being cleaned. The one I saw at Runnings for $240 would be perfect because I can drag it around the yard so the birds can have fresh grass every few days.

Eric and I will be off to check out campers tomorrow morning. Hopefully we will be bringing one home with us. I seriously can't wait to start camping. I'm so antsy to sit around a campfire and make camping snacks. We are planning at trip out to the Black Hills or Yellowstone in August. I'm really looking forward to that trip.

Well, check back soon. I'm sure I'll have more to talk about if my babies have gotten sick.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

79 Degrees? Yes, please!

Today is wonderful outside! I sat out with the chickens for a while and brought Steve outside to play in the run. He kept getting beat up by one of the red hens and the poor little guy had no idea why. He wasn't too interested in swimming as he was not so sure what to think of all the other birds and the wind. It's a windy day today and due to his niacin deficiency, he was pretty unsteady on his feet. I have to supplement his water with vitamins and niacin to help correct his leg problem. I keep calling Steve "him", but I am beginning to think he is a she! Steve is very talkative and noisy which is characteristic of a female duck. I also don't see a curly tail feather that male ducks have. I hope Steve is a girl so he can lay me some eggs.

Steve and the baby chickens are getting so big. Steve is 6 weeks old now, and generally Pekins are about ready for butchering at 7 to 10 weeks. Lucky for Steve, I happen to love him so he won't be butchered. He'll be a spoiled pet. I have moved them to the coop in the second side so they are away from the big chickens. They are too little to hold their own when the chickens start to beat them up to establish a pecking order. They will be kept separate for at least another month yet. 

I am hoping to get some meat birds next week to raise for our freezer. I am going to wait until I get back from a conference to get them so Eric doesn't have to take care of them.

Eric and I finally cleaned out all of the straw in the chicken run last night. That was a big job! It took us a good hour to get it all cleared out. From now on, I am just going to put the straw into buckets and haul it out right away rather than having to clear the run out like that again. That was such a crappy chore! The chickens were very happy to scratch around in the mud underneath the straw.
This is only some of the straw we pulled out of the run!
Time for a snack!

I bought the chickens a sandbox this week and they are happy to have sand to take dust baths in.
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Some of the chickens are still sniffling or coughing at times, but for the most part, I think they are getting better. Some days I get a decent amount of eggs, others I don't. The ducks are laying well and have been consistently laying an egg a day.

I put up my fence around my peonies and uncovered my strawberries this week, too. I already have some strawberries turning green. I have lots of tulips popping up out of the ground.

Over the last month or so, we have discovered that Eric has an egg intolerance. He gets horrible stomach upset when he eats eggs, so now we are switching him over to duck eggs. I was volunteered to make deviled eggs for our family lunch tomorrow, so I made a couple duck eggs just for him. Today I also made a bacon-wrapped, jalapeno and cheddar stuffed meatloaf. I can't freaking wait until supper. That is going to be amazing.

The cats have been terribly itchy to get outside lately. Everytime I go towards the door, Dakotah and Arnold go running for it. It was this time last year that they both escaped and Dakotah was gone for three days. That was horrendous. It's the worst feeling not knowing where your baby is. I won't let them go outside because they will just keep trying to run for the door and I can't have them escape again.

We had a nice trip down to Omaha over Easter weekend. We got to eat supper with some of my online friends, go to the zoo, eat lots of good food, and relax! There was a really yummy ice cream place across from our hotel and I got ice cream at least twice while I was there. I also bought some pretty dresses from a vintage clothing store down the road. I had a good time.




My husband is so handsome!
We went to look at campers on our way back from Omaha and found one that we wanted. Unfortunately, the dealership sold the one we wanted yesterday. We were going to go get it today, too. That was very disappointing because it had everything we wanted and it was the perfect camper for us. Hopefully Eric will come across another one soon so we can start prepping for camping!

We had a contractor look at our upstairs bathroom this week because we plan to remodel it. He won't be able to get to work on it until June, but I am really looking forward to having a second bathroom, especially since it will have a tub!