By Kelson Spear
Chicken disease can hit your flock at any time. Illnesses like upper respiratory infections (URI), chickenpox, Avian Diphtheria, bird flu, plus a host of others are all possibilities. And, unless you are already prepared to deal with the problems as they arise, you're going to need to decide how you should care for them. And that decision depends totally on your intentions for your flock.
If you want to save any and all chickens, then you should treat them just as you would a dog or a cat, whenever they get sick you would take them in to your veterinarian. If you are thinking more about a herd, or large flock - then you would do something whenever you notice high mortality, or if you have high morbidity.
It is quite common for most backyard chicken growers to simply allow the chicken disease to take its course and see what happens with the chicken. And that might be okay for you? It may mean the hen will not survive, and you need to be okay with that outcome.
Your other main option is to visit a local veterinarian, treating your hens just like any other family pet. You would take them in to see what's wrong with them, and to get the treatments as recommended by the doctor. Surprisingly, not a lot of owners raising chickens do this. However it is slowly becoming more and more common throughout the U.S. for owners to take one of their hens in to see the veterinarian for care.
For example, there was a recent report, from a backyard poultry raiser, describing how her chicken's beak had grown irregularly, and so she took the hen in to the doctor for treatment. That was one of only a handful of reported visits to the doctor, for a chicken, that have been reported in the news.
The health and safety of your chickens, when hit by any sickness, depends largely on how you want to treat them. Whether you want to treat each one as a single pet, or as a large flock, may determine what actions you take when they are infected by a chicken disease. Make sure you have already thought about each scenario before it becomes a reality.
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