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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I wanted to do my due diligence and ask a forum of professionals to get some opinions.

I operate a chicken egg CSA farm with about ~50 hens and have been doing so for roughly two years. Some of the books I read they talk in terms of larger scale farms (assuming hundreds of birds) and they make general assumptions around "obviously never taking one of your chickens to the vet" and talk more in terms of finding diseased hens and moving from the herd, how to quickly put a bird out of its misery if its suffering, etc. Meanwhile, I've read other books and message boards that provide a lot of info on how to heal birds from illnesses, meds that they can be treated with when diseased, etc. In other words, the birds are treated more like a pet that gets injured or sick, and less like "a crop".

Curious what folks' opinions are on this as I feel with 50 hens, I'm a bit in the middle between some that we've had for years and have named, and some that are just there to produce eggs from an indistinguishable 25 pack of pullets that we bought all at once.

I've been fortunate to date (knock on wood), that they've either run into something quick and deadly and wasn't like some simple broken leg or wing or something that I had to watch one suffer, so I've had very little loss over the two years. But today was a good example of a bird that got stuck in the auto door closer last night and had its neck trapped outside in 30-degree weather for 12 hours and today it just looks pathetic with its head laying down on the straw in the coop and I'm got me to thinking of whether I should be looking for a recovery plan, or just allowing nature to take its course.

Thanks all
 

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Professionals? Hobbyists for the most part.

I've been in a similar spot when I was raising Silkies and had a lot of them. There were birds that were special and did become pets. The others were part of the flock. But due to their value they did get treated when it was possible.

Have you examined the injured bird closely? It's possible it's more about bruised muscles and will recover in time. If you feel any defects in the neck then it might be better to dispatch it. Aspirin might help it if you have it somewhere on it's own.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Professionals? Hobbyists for the most part.

I've been in a similar spot when I was raising Silkies and had a lot of them. There were birds that were special and did become pets. The others were part of the flock. But due to their value they did get treated when it was possible.

Have you examined the injured bird closely? It's possible it's more about bruised muscles and will recover in time. If you feel any defects in the neck then it might be better to dispatch it. Aspirin might help it if you have it somewhere on it's own.
Thanks. I realized I didn't ask a specific question, but do have a specific situation tonight so to speak.

My formal question for the group was really, is there a certain point where clearly you work towards "dispatching" a hen vs. treating one? I definitely started this as a hobby with my wife a few years ago with 6 hens for personal eggs and girls to track in the back yard. Now I've bought an 8 acre farm and have established an LLC, and one of my county requirements for the land I purchased and am living on is that I have to farm it for profit as that's how it's zoned. So we now have 50 hens and a CSA program and make profit from farming hens for eggs and allowing us to own 8 acres without paying taxes because we're farming it for profits so to speak. So as my wife might say, we're no longer in the business of hobby, and need to make hard farmer decisions now.

That said, the current bird is about 9 months old and relatively young, but she's been a loner who won't interact with anyone and seems to always sleep in a strange spot away from others. So she's already been strange as a younger bird. We got her as a set of two from a local elementary school incubator project, that they donated to us after the school year ended in summer as pullets. Her sister got taken by a hawk because she was a free range loner who just never stayed near to the coops, and now this one is a solo who doesn't do much of anything but sit in a corner of the chicken run and avoid everyone. I don't even know if she lays as I've never seen her in a box. Then she randomly got her head stuck in one of my extra coops that nobody sleeps in, but a few of the hens go into during the day to lay eggs into the nesting boxes, but it does have one of those shaft drive auto-open/close doors that go with the sunrise/sunset. that I got just to keep it secure at night, even though nobody sleeps in there as it's a new one and nobody has formally established it. Now this one got stuck in there last night and has just been hanging her head down most of the day. I put food and water in there and closed the door so she'd have fresh food, water, and a fairly warm home with no other birds. But she seems to just be staring straight at the floor with her beak almost touching the ground and when she moved over a little as I put water in front of her, her head just remained hung low and she shifted over with her head still almost dragging along the straw at the floor of the coop. So it's almost like a neck strain after being caught in the auto-door closer for 12 hours.

Thanks!
 

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Personally, I would cull the hen in a heartbeat. Most likely there is injury to the esophagus, windpipe ie... ligaments and tendons requiring a very long recovery (IF it heals), and playing nurse maid to an injured hen is too time consuming in this instance.

On a different subject, the most important thing to consider is Biosecurity with your flock. DO NOT bring new birds into your existing flock from Craigslist, farmer down the road, poultry shows, flea markets, breeders etc...
Order chicks from reputable hatcheries or purchase them from feed stores as chicks. Chicks at feed stores are brought in from reputable hatcheries, always ask just to be sure.

Poultry Biosecurity is a broad subject to talk about and I suggest that you read up on it. I could explain it here and give examples, but I'm a slow typer and I would be here most of the day typing and I've got chickens to look after as well lol.
 

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This is where @dawg53 and I diverge. I do a careful assessment and decide whether there is anything I can do to help.

Your situation is why I never pursued getting automatic doors. It had to happen to someone even though there are those out there that had never had it happen. There is also the possibility of predators getting closed in with the automatic doors.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Personally, I would cull the hen in a heartbeat. Most likely there is injury to the esophagus, windpipe ie... ligaments and tendons requiring a very long recovery (IF it heals), and playing nurse maid to an injured hen is too time consuming in this instance.

On a different subject, the most important thing to consider is Biosecurity with your flock. DO NOT bring new birds into your existing flock from Craigslist, farmer down the road, poultry shows, flea markets, breeders etc...
Order chicks from reputable hatcheries or purchase them from feed stores as chicks. Chicks at feed stores are brought in from reputable hatcheries, always ask just to be sure.

Poultry Biosecurity is a broad subject to talk about and I suggest that you read up on it. I could explain it here and give examples, but I'm a slow typer and I would be here most of the day typing and I've got chickens to look after as well lol.
Thanks. Really helpful info. Thankfully, I've not run into many issues. And probably because I got an original 6 birds from my local feed store, and then have gotten batches of 25 and 20 since then from a local, highly reputable breeder here in Oregon. So I've essentially got six in a smaller feed store coop, and then the other 40 or so are mixed between two large coops I built. And to the best I can tell, the "batches" don't tend to comingle a ton, other than free ranging around the chicken run and all running into a mob when we throw some mealworms/treats out to them over the fence. These two from the elementary school were the only random anomalies, and I suspect the last won't be here much longer, so I'll be back to the three big batches keeping to their groups. But I'll read my chapter on biosecurity next as it's probably important to know when you have an operating farm. Thanks! .
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
This is where @dawg53 and I diverge. I do a careful assessment and decide whether there is anything I can do to help.

Your situation is why I never pursued getting automatic doors. It had to happen to someone even though there are those out there that had never had it happen. There is also the possibility of predators getting closed in with the automatic doors.
Thanks. It is on a 4th coop that nobody uses other than midday egg laying, so I didn't think of it too much at the time, but was thinking of using it if I got another batch of hens to cycle into the flock. Probably my mistake to get an inexpensive Amazon special shaft drive door that is simply set to open and close to sunset/sunrise with a couple AA batteries. My other automatic door openers are high-end programmed an hour before sunrise/sunset based on my GPS locations and come down on a string, so the string just bunches up if a hen is under it and allows them to move out from under it if it closes on them. So much more user friendly. Luckily we don't have to worry much about animals getting in there since we have 8-foot high deer fence with thick welded wire, small mesh holes. So only rats or maybe a squirrel could even get in there, and it's next to our farm home with lots of activity throughout the day and no trees for 300 yards, so even the coyotes don't roam too close as they're easily dispatched if they get within a hundred feet of the house. So fortunately (knock on wood again), it's only the occasional hawk or bald eagle that come by and swipe one have been the only losses we've caught on our cameras over the years, and it's pretty rare they get this close to the house and make that bold move. Thanks again!
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I'm sort of big on closure on specific messageboard issues that arise for future readers. If anyone wanted some closure on my specific incident that led to my original post, I'll summarize in that one of my Rhode Island Reds got its head stuck in the automatic door closer to an extra coop I made and haven't had nightly occupants in there to date, so it's a bit segregated from the others, and she ended up stuck with her head outside at the bottom of the door for 12 hours. It was fairly mobile and talkative when I opened up the spare coop to check in on her, but she kept her head hung low, almost dragging the ground as she shuffled left or right. But I kept her warm, kept fresh food/water near her, and she never seemed to deteriorate, so I let her go naturally staying in the spare coop. After about 72 hours or so, she suddenly hopped out in the morning and joined the other girls outside when I came for morning treats of mealworms. The last 24 hours or so, she went back to her routine, and to the best I can tell, she's not even moving funny or hanging her head at all. So I think whatever the ailment was to her neck, she's fully recovered now. Just figured folks should have the closure, or if they run into a similar hanging neck syndrome. Thanks again all.
 

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Thank you for the update. It warms my heart to know she's once again her old self.

Goes to show, sometimes taking a step back for a bit is the best cure.
 
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