Wilma The Wonder Hen Podcast

Marek's Disease and The Backyard Flock with Rai of Covid Cluckers

January 01, 2024 Melissa Season 3 Episode 50
Wilma The Wonder Hen Podcast
Marek's Disease and The Backyard Flock with Rai of Covid Cluckers
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Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

When Rai, a seasoned urban chicken keeper, opened up about the hushed illness plaguing her backyard flock, it struck a chord with my own trials in tending to my feathered friends. We both know the weight of silence around these issues all too well, and it's high time we brought it into the light. Our cozy conversation traverses from personal tales of loss, stemming from the heartbreaking Marek's disease, to the heartwarming introduction of Rai's lively Jack Russell terrier, Olive. We exchange holiday cheer and commiserate over the unpredictability of Appalachian weather, which often throws a wrench in our best-laid plans, be they festive gatherings or school schedules.

Navigating the joys and sorrows of urban homesteading takes more than just a love for our clucking companions; it requires an eagle eye for the subtle signs of distress and illness they sometimes show. Rai and I share anecdotes that shed light on the importance of timely veterinary care and making informed decisions about your flock's health. Our candid dialogue opens up about companion chickens as cherished pets, the unique needs of different flocks, and the idea of a "single ladies club" for older hens. It's clear that the path to a happy chicken coop is paved with knowledge, care, and a pinch of laughter at the unexpected.

Wrapping up our heartfelt discussion, we tackle the critical topic of vaccinations and the necessity of being proactive in flock management. From the complexities of securing chicks from hatcheries to the challenges of dealing with a disease-riddled flock, it becomes evident that a stitch in time saves nine—or in our case, a vaccine in time saves the flock. The episode culminates with an uplifting pledge to continue sharing our stories and insights, underscoring the importance of a supportive community in the world of pet companionship. Join us, warm beverage in hand, and find solace in the shared experiences that bond all passionate pet owners together.

Follow Rai here https://www.instagram.com/covidcluckers/

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“Where education fuels compassion.”

melissa:

Okay, hi Ray, how are you? I'm doing good. How are you, mel? Well, I just got off a week of being sick as a dog. I ride it at Christmas time, but you know I just but. Merry Christmas, happy New Year and tomorrow, I believe, is your birthday. Yes, so happy early birthday from the big numbers over here. But we have Ray here because, um Well, ray is just an unlimited amount of information. She has a flock in the city, so she is, you know, one of our special guests that we like to come on, have on, because she gives us that, you know, perspective of, you know the permits and you know all those things that a lot of people in the country don't really have to think about. So she represents a pretty large community of people who live in the city and Ray's children. But we also have Ray here because of a recent illness in her flock and I think she comes with a lot of knowledge. This diagnosis, I think, comes with a stigma, or yeah, I think that's the word it does.

Rai:

You know, that it's.

melissa:

A lot of people don't talk about it, even though they might have it, you know, in their flock, which we'll get more into that, because a lot of people have it in their flock, they don't know it and they probably they never know it. But anyway, I'd like to introduce Ray, a great talker. She not only is a great presence online, she is a dear friend that we have has a pleasure of being friends with for quite a while since the internet community, chicken community. You know Ray and she has a sweet little olive with her. You cannot see her, but she is the cutest little thing and she can tell you more about her, you know, throughout the conversation. But hi, ray, thanks for being here.

Rai:

Yeah, you might hear me yell at olive a lot.

melissa:

That's okay. Can you tell us what olive is for our listeners in a little bit about olive before we move on, because she is adorable.

Rai:

My husband is over here calling her names. Olive is a Jack Russell terrier and cute little fact about her she was born on our anniversary.

melissa:

Oh that you were my favorite right Cuter and cuter.

Rai:

Oh, so now, well, we were at a couple weddings because of COVID, but, like now, we'll definitely remember this one because it's her birthday also. We forget all the time. It's oh, happy anniversary. We're like, oh crud, which one is it? So you know.

melissa:

Well, yeah, I completely understand. I got quite a few doggies here and I don't know we.

Rai:

You love them, but you know it's like kids, sometimes you just yes sometimes you want to just put them in a closet and say here, not that I'm advocating that, but you know, absolutely that's what it is.

melissa:

Oh yeah, so true, so you are on break. Rai is a music teacher and she is currently on break, which I kind of feel bad, because y'all don't really get a lot of break where you are, like our kids. I don't have any kids in school. I have a granddaughter, so I kind of keep up with it, but we, we haven't had a school long time ago.

Rai:

Yeah, we don't get breaks like that. So where I live, it's the snow is an issue. I mean people can barely drive in the sunshine, so worse. So what they end up doing is we'll get like delays and we'll get oh my God, the cat, the cat just developed. But we'll get delays, we'll get snow days, and that the way that they are. Department of Ed does everything. It's by hours, x amount of hours each year, it's not just the days, it's got to be hours. So that's where we end up with less breaks. And if we get too many snow days, they'll actually start taking from our spring break and adding on towards the end of the year.

melissa:

Yeah, they kind of do that here, but I don't know. They have like an unusual snow days here. I think we get snow, but not like consistently, like okay, it's wintertime, it's going to snow for the next four months or something. So they're not like they will get out of school. If it's a potential snow storm, a potential, it doesn't even have to be on the ground, you don't even have to see it coming from the sky. It just if it's a potential they get out. So maybe that's.

Rai:

Well, I can tell you, we have like really strange weather here and I teach in two mountain schools, like I'm in the Appalachian Mountains yeah, appalachian Mountains Like so we're right there, and there will be days when, since I live in the city, we have nothing in the city, like nothing, maybe rain, sometimes not even that. I'll drive to my mountain schools and there's like four to five inches of snow on the ground. So it's very different, like our climate is very strange, just in the small amount of space that I'm in, so that happens a lot with that.

melissa:

You know, like you'll see, we post pictures of like four or five inches of snow and then one year we have like 12 inches of snow and the people you know up the road didn't not necessarily up the road but, you know, in another camp, in another city they didn't have anything. But a lot of times the mountain protects us, like with tornadoes and things like that.

Rai:

You know that mountain fall protects us for a lot of things, yeah, and unfortunately the storms sometimes go over the mountain and skipper's completely and we're like, no, we need a snow day, we need to love everything. Everybody's sick, Everybody's tired. We need a snow day and it always does.

melissa:

Yeah, hold on. That's also very true, yeah.

Rai:

Never fails.

melissa:

But very true, okay. So how is the bearded claw? I know it's a little itchy, yeah so, oh, it's okay.

Rai:

I will enjoy hearing us banter Like yes we love, we love the bearded claw. So how are you doing, honey? He's giving us thumbs down. We have to go back to work tomorrow too.

melissa:

Oh yeah, that sucks. We shouldn't have to work at all.

Rai:

No, no, we definitely shouldn't. These chickens need to make us more money. They do, they don't.

melissa:

They just cost money.

Rai:

Yeah, it's you know better negotiations with like their agents and they're just not.

melissa:

Oh, oh my gosh, I know I would. I wish you know when you're their agent. You know you don't get paid enough anyways, no, and they try to pay you in corn in it.

Rai:

That doesn't work.

melissa:

Huck and just renegotiated up her contract for the year, so yeah, so I owe her a lot of money this year, apparently. Oh well, the good thing is they don't really know what money is.

Rai:

So if, like, you, throw a couple of pennies and it just looks like a lot, they get really excited. I'm going to say what.

melissa:

Give them a little bit of new worms or something you know they're like oh, I'm good, you know good, they're like we're even for now, yeah, for now. Some of them are a little bit smarter. Some of them are a little bit smarter.

Rai:

Yeah, I would.

melissa:

Chickas are really smart. Anyways they are, and they can count Like if I give two maitris to Princess Leia and, like Persephone, sees that she's like.

Rai:

They can count how many treats everybody's getting. They know what's going on. They're smarter than people give them credit for, I know, and they fight over to watch them, like when they play football you know, when you give them one a treat, oh, they're like teenage girls, it's all.

melissa:

They're all. The rest of them want it. So they start chasing around and then they get passed from one chicken to the next, and then next, and then they get passed from one chicken to the next, and then next and next.

Rai:

And of course they make that little noise like I found something cool, but you can't like stop making the noise if you want to keep it, so I and Mr Jango's.

melissa:

he alerts all the girls to snips and then they all come running. He don't really care. So as long as he calls them, even when there's no tricks, they're just. They're dumb enough to fall for it.

Rai:

So and he knows that he is, he is.

melissa:

He's slowing down a lot. He he don't break out that many fights. He does break up a few, but not that many, and I don't know. You kind of see him hanging by himself quite a bit. He's not sick. I've had him to trust me. I've had him to the bed probably 10 times and he's perfectly healthy. He's just.

Rai:

Now what? He just knows that those heifers are going to take their errands out. They're going to start fighting real mean and he doesn't want the streets. I'm telling you.

melissa:

I don't mean for that. I wasn't made for it, okay. Well, in all seriousness, we do kind of want to discuss what's recently been going on in your box, so I'll let you kind of take over that and you can maybe start from the beginning of how it started.

Rai:

I was really, really excited because I've been watching for the past couple years. Everybody gets their chicks and they're so cute and they're so fuzzy and I loved having chicks, like I loved when my girls were babies. It was such a big deal for me. It was like what was getting me through COVID. It kept me occupied and we had that really nice little bond. Well, I ended up getting five new chicks and they grew up and they were about like the first like incident we had with one of them getting sick. They were probably about like 10 weeks old and Churro started showing some weird signs of things. She was very lethargic and just very sickly and I ended up having to feed her because she wasn't eating. And thank God for Erica from second hand, because she was calling me and telling me all the things to like pump through her and so we were doing and Merrick's wasn't even on our radar at all.

melissa:

Why wasn't it just to stop for a second?

Rai:

The reason why is because so Merrick's presents is a lot of different things and there are different types of Marek's. The type we have in our flock is the type where they grow tumors, so there's no physical symptoms on the outside. It's not like ocular, where, like you're going to see, like their eyes go gray and look cataract at a young age, and it's not like the neurological, where, like you see them just kind of shaking and like all over the place Like tumors, so like it wasn't on our radar at all. And then we had just taken the girls outside, like they were just old enough to go outside. They were probably well, I kept them inside for a while because we had smoke and wildfires and like explosions and all sorts of stuff here this past year, but they were probably about three or four months old when we took them outside for the first time and when I just happened to look at Bon Bon one day, my Barnabelder, because I really wanted Barnabelder, they're so sweet she was real lethargic, she wasn't moving very fast and the other girls were picking on her, which was weird because they were at an age where, like pecking order well, it's a thing. It's not like an extreme thing, like how the older girls it's always pecking order. They were still snuggling with each other, they were still being kind to each other and she went down quick and, unfortunately, the way that the type of Merrick's we have presents it can look like botulism, it can look like some sort of vitamins efficiency Rhinox. It was very strange how she went down and she wasn't walking. And we tried everything. We were pumping her full of vitamins. We were pumping her. I was getting ready to treat her for coxidiosis before she died and then she died unfortunately. But she wasn't walking. She wasn't able to stand. She had green poop, which is a symptom, and it's not just the starvation poops, it happened to be a symptom of it. So she passed and I ended up sending her off for an acropsy. Now I'm very lucky In the state of Maryland we have two labs. There's one that's on the eastern shore which is about four hours from me, and then there's one that's half a mile from my house. So I took her there for the acropsy and they said that they didn't see anything at first and I ended up paying a little bit more for the acropsy. And, by the way, if you get an acropsy done on your chicken and if it's like my state lab, they will send you pictures. So that was a little jarring for me. Seeing my chicken opened up, seeing her brainstem, seeing her lungs, it was very fascinating. But it's very hard when you're like this little baby peep that you had day one is on there. So just for those people who are faint of heart, just know that they'll send pictures. And they said that they didn't see anything at first and I was like something's not right because it was presenting as Marix. Like once I did more research they said she had some worms and they said that she had coxidiosis. But I was like something still isn't right because coxidiosis should not have taken her down like that and neither should have parasites because they weren't showing up in her poop.

melissa:

They weren't like, and she wasn't really that old, she was still young.

Rai:

She was about 18 weeks so she was getting ready to lay. She was at that point of almost laying so they went through and they did a further round of tests it was around $50 to get it done and they found a small tumor in her lungs and they said, well, we're not really sure it could be Marix, but we're not really sure. And then three weeks later butters went down. Butters was my little Easter egg, very, very sweet. They were always picking on her and usually if they're being picked on, not because they're at the bottom of the pecking order, but they're constantly picking on them. Check to make sure your chicken isn't sick. Well, butters fought for maybe like two weeks with this going on and I knew that there was a possibility of it being Marix. So we did everything we could to lower her stress level. We went through and we were treating her for coxidiosis and I got a different medication for it. It's totorozoral and it's a one and done versus cork, so it's a little bit more effective. It also helps with worms, so I treated her with that. A couple of times I was tube feeding her. I was giving her all sorts of nutrients rooster booster, poultry cell, oregano, everything I was throwing at her. She again, presented with the classic leg pose, could not stand and she fought for a long time and it was just sad to watch and, like every time that this was going on, I would turn to my husband and go I don't know, maybe I just need to make the appointment and have her put down. He's like I think she's going to fight there, because then, like the minute, I said that she would like try to stand up when she would eat, and so she was eating, she was drinking but she had the pose of marics and then finally she just passed. So I took her in, went through the entire necropsy process again and this time they said that she was riddled with tumors and they took a look at some of the nerves and they said that they were enlarged. That's another classic sign. She was way more sick than Bon Bon was. So, yeah, I asked people how we could have gotten it, because we're pretty tight with we're not perfect, nobody's perfect but we're pretty tight with our biosecurity and I was really unsure how it happened. Now, my girls hadn't really been outside, so that's where, like, I'm at and I have some theories, but it could have been. I work at country schools, they have chickens. I could have dragged it in. Maybe I didn't clean off my boots well enough, maybe I wore a shirt that I wore to work, or maybe it was a shirt that I had took to the fair, or a poultry bag that I didn't clean off. I don't know. It could also be little itty bitty birds For people who don't know. We had a huge explosion here back in March and when that happened, we lost all of our squirrels. Our hawks have not come back. Yeah, so we're like inundated with these little bitty songbirds and, of course, yeah, with the songbirds coming back, they bring all sorts of lovely, fun things, and so they could have brought Mariks in. I have a neighbor, frederick Chickens, on Instagram. She's just a couple of houses away from me. We're discussing about it because we were. She was like, well, what's involved with the Mariks? Like how did it happen? I'm like I don't know. There's all sorts of ways that it could have gotten into my flock. I do know that I only have two birds that are vaccinated for Mariks, and that is Princess Leia and Blue from my original production hens. The rest of them aren't vaccinated, and for people who are going to go and pick up chicks this year. Unless you're buying them directly from the hatchery, they're not going to vaccinate them. So I've been working with Second Hand to find ways that I can help my girls, because if they hadn't gotten sick I wouldn't have known to be honest with you, because it's a type of marix that doesn't present physically and it looks like everything else.

melissa:

Yeah, especially kids. I mean, you have a list of things that you could choose from. That could potentially be marix.

Rai:

Yeah, and I was wondering if maybe my feed wasn't very good kind of deal. I was wondering if maybe they ate something bad. Maybe I just gave them some treats that were a little too old and we went through all of that process too, and it was definitely not botulism. I wanted to make sure it wasn't leucosis, which is another disease that presents directly.

melissa:

It's not like life marriage. Yes.

Rai:

And it's different, like just on a very small cellular level, that you and I aren't going to be able to tell. I mean, if I was to open up a chicken today, I'd be like, oh, I don't even know. So I think that people just need to be aware it's probably in your flock. It's a disease of opportunity. It will rear its ugly head in times of stress. So and we're finally past the time frame they say between like eight weeks and 30 weeks, that's most likely when your birds will be affected by it. So, like I have one girl right now, tato, she hasn't laid and we're thinking that maybe the stress of getting ready to lay might have triggered some of this in bonbon and butters, but we're not sure.

melissa:

Did you get three together?

Rai:

I got five, yeah. So I got a bird rock, two barnabilders, two Easter eggers, and then Marissa sent me Persephone I'm smell honey and she's the beautiful thing. And I was talking with Marissa about that and she told me that AM Samanis are more likely to be susceptible to it. So we're silkies. So, people, you got to watch out for them. Polish your fancy chickens.

melissa:

Any of the fancy chickens.

Rai:

You know, and I'm sitting here thinking gosh, you know my girls, as street smart as they are, like I don't want anything to happen to them. I worry about Artemis because she's a fancy chicken but but she's older and so I know that the risk is still there. But you know, I don't think it's as prevalent as, like the little guys coming in. If I want to get more chickens, they have to be vaccinated. I did talk to my vet and it's a mixed science out there about vaccinating older birds, but the way I think of it is it's like a flu shot. If you get a flu shot, it's not going to stop you from getting the flu yeah, it's. It lessens the symptoms. So the thing that my vet and I discussed was you know what? It's not going to hurt anything. So we're going to try and vaccinate my girls and so I do have, like the vaccine here at the house. We're going to make a whole video on it and show people how to give a vaccine, because I think that's important for people to know how to do. It's stressful. It is stressful, but we're going to do it. It's worth it because it's not going to hurt anything. That was like what I took away from all the studies that I was reading. I read one from Penn State and they were like this could help, but it's not going to hurt anything. It's not like you're going to give your chicken marics. It's not like you're going to cause them to all die. We do have a closed block, so I will not be getting chicks anytime soon or birds anytime soon.

melissa:

Yeah, these are some of the questions I have for you, so you're like actually just answering them. Yeah, no, that's great, because that's things that you know we want people like how did it present itself? How do you lower the risk of? You know, like we said, it's probably in your block. I don't have a single chicken at my or ever that's ever been vaccinated, like ever in the last 15 years. We do a lot of I don't buy live birds and I buy a bunch of eggs. We hatch here, so there, yeah, and so the risk is still there. Is what I'm trying to say, but it doesn't always. You know, obviously we don't want anyone to freak out, but we also want them to be a wicker.

Rai:

Yes, and it's, and it does come from dander. So you can test with, like a PCR test, like if you take one of the feathers it'll have the dander on it and you can have a lab do a PCR test on it to tell you whether or not they're shedding the virus actively.

melissa:

Yeah, you can do that now. Yeah, like when they're alive.

Rai:

Yeah, so your bird doesn't have to be dead for you to be able to test for marics. So that's like the good news because, like I always thought, oh wow, if they have marics, do I have to call them first and then send them off for an acropsy? Or, like you know, what can I do to make sure that I know what's going on? I know what's going on here. If you're getting hatching eggs, it's not transmissible from mama to egg. So if you think you have marics in your flock, you're going to have to use an incubator and then that's me.

melissa:

Yeah, we had another. We marry. I know you know marry, but yes lost nearly all of her entire flock to Marics, and then that's. We've always felt that they would be a. It's scary. I can imagine is what I'm trying to say, but I couldn't imagine what you're having in face. But you're doing it in a way that is always vulnerable and you're you're looking to help other people.

Rai:

And what's so sad about Mary's case is she has the neurological one and you see it, and when she has shown and I had some heart breaking when she shows the symptoms of those and she's she's doing it to teach people and it's just you can hear the pain in her voice and she is just such an angel person. You know she's just wonderful and so like to see her just so upset and sad, like what I'm going through is totally different because it's internal, but you can see what's going on with her flock and it just breaks my heart for her.

melissa:

There was several of the last ones, I think that me and her message, I mean like for an hour until it. You know, her baby, that finally it's because you just help us. There's absolutely nothing anyway.

Rai:

You really can't stop it. It's going to do what it's going to do, but it is a herpes virus. It's a lot like chicken pox. We all have. Those of us who went to the chicken pox parties, you know. I mean, like the young people and millennials probably know about the chicken party.

melissa:

Because my, my older millennials, they actually had the vaccine. So when it first first first came out, my kid my oldest kid, was one of the in the trials for chicken pox shot the vaccine and she got chicken pox.

Rai:

She's lucky. But I mean, like even when we were going up and we were going to those chicken pox parties, I knew people who had gotten chicken pox more than ones. The time around wasn't as bad.

melissa:

And then my sister got it, my baby sister that passed away. She was in her 30s and she got it twice in the same year. I'm not talking shingles, I mean, right now, chicken pox.

Rai:

Yeah, I mean my husband, you haven't had chicken pox, have you? Yeah, and you know, whenever they're like, oh there's chicken pox at school, I'm like, so I have to watch out for it. But you know, again, the vaccines are going to help with that, but it's going to be a virus that's always in their body, because it's a herpes virus. It's just, it's always there. One way I know that something's up. It's also called the wasting disease. So if you start to notice that your birds are starting to get thinner, start putting on the B12s, start giving them all the vitamins, start giving them more oregano. I'm not normally a person who's like the healing power of Italy, but like the oregano has been helpful, but just help boost them.

melissa:

It does help when you're adding in other, you know. And nothing against oregano, but on its own obviously we're not. No, I'm not saying it's a cure, it's helpful.

Rai:

I mean like listen, we're not going to go out there and dump our spice cabinet out there for them. But you know, adding the additives to the water, do you think they can kind of get their calories up? I know people are just absolutely dead sent against heat. This year I've had a heater running in my coop because I don't want them burning the calories and getting stressed with the different temperatures.

melissa:

Your situation is different, right? So that's what we advocate for, that we're not telling you across the board. You shouldn't use heat at all. Yeah, I know, Use it wisely. Use it wisely and research what type of heat. And yeah, obviously they need to stay warm.

Rai:

Well, I worry about their calorie deficit more than anything else and if they don't worry about keeping warm, their body can focus on fighting other things. And I've also been doing that because Leia with her cancer, it's been helping her. Yeah, my whole floxomess we're just like a grab bag of disease over here and you know it's been a lot of time. Oh, it's been a horrible learning opportunity. But if I can help other people then it's worth it. But with my heater the only thing I do is maybe put it so that it's like 10 degrees warmer. So it's not a huge shift, but it's just enough so they can go and cuddle up against it. They can get warm and go do what they need to do.

melissa:

I have a chick a chick cozy heater in my van and pin. Oh, those are the best, oh, let me because they're just, they don't have a lot of meat on their bones. Anyways, they're just a small breed, so when you pick them up, most of what they are is just better. They're so cute, they look fluffy and they're not underweight. They're just, they don't have a lot of meat on them. So I do have a cozy heater, one of the radiant heaters, just in there in their coop.

Rai:

Yeah, but the good rule of thumb is is when you pick them up, you can feel their keel bone and If you can also feel like a little bit of, like you know, breast around the keel bone, they're okay. But like, if you like, even think for one, second them, maybe they're too thin. They're probably too thin. I've been very aware of the protein amounts that I've been giving them, so I tried to give them like extra veg and I've been giving them more corn right now, so like I haven't been like shoving a ton of grubs at them because I don't want them to have kidney issues.

melissa:

So it's fine balance of two routine not enough protein, not enough carbohydrates. Especially when you have a chicken in your situation and definitely when you go into winter, you should, I think, of the carbohydrates before you have any kind of fat or protein.

Rai:

Yeah, and I mean like sometimes, like I might like give them something with a little bit more fat in there, but I try not to because again, I want them to have balance. I don't want them to have crop issues like it's just such a fine line with doing all of this and then like go back to the feed conspiracy thing. Seriously, just start with your base feet to start with your base feed and go from there, because that's like your baseline for everything. Like you could sit there and you could have all these tons of conspiracies out the window. I don't believe any of it. I think it's all horse, you know what. But um, it is. It's absolutely. It's just absolutely.

melissa:

So I spent all last year fighting that I'm not going into 2028 for this year with it. No, I'm not.

Rai:

I'm not fighting it. You want to be stupid? Awesome. If you want to believe some rando on the internet without doing any research, awesome. But like always do your own research, even like I feel pretty educated in things and I've talked to professionals, but like don't just go. Hey, oh well, ray said this. No, go and research it, because what's good for my flock isn't good for your flock Absolutely. Because you have roosters. I don't have roosters yeah, that's a whole different bug and I don't have hens that are hatching babies. I don't have babies. I got fully grown hens and some of them are geriatric and some of them are just teenagers. But you know, what's good for my flock isn't necessarily good for everybody else's.

melissa:

So I just Ready a finally love right. This is one of the reasons why we love right.

Rai:

There is a mini Huge list of why we love right, but I hope people right now are like yeah, I agree with that, like that's open, I'm hoping there in the cars going yeah, yeah, you know.

melissa:

That's right, that's absolutely right. Your block is your block and that's what we definitely, ray and I, that's what we cut. We are definitely on the same page when you know we don't all have to do the exact same.

Rai:

And and stay out of the Facebook groups. If you tell somebody you have a merits positive flock, they're gonna be like oh kill your birds, Just come on.

melissa:

They like hold the whole thing and start over.

Rai:

I'm like for some people, if that might work.

melissa:

You know if I if they're not attached to. Maybe their only goal is production as an eggs and you know, possibly you know in that type of way, but the way that companion chickens is now a thing and it's a huge thing, there's a large community of people who just have chickens. You know they of course they like the ace and that's a right, that's it. But they're pets, they're actually just pets. And then the marketing world if they would catch onto that. You know there's huge Untapped Avenue of money because chicken moments and chicken daddy's love to drop money on their face is anything but the chicken on it, we're buying it.

Rai:

If I could find stuff with more hens on it and not just the beautiful roosters, I'm Biting it like people don't understand. I mean, my whole family even said they were like you're so much easier to shop for since you got Chickens. We just find you something with a chicken on it. I just want a kid.

melissa:

Yeah, oh yeah, absolutely 100%.

Rai:

But you don't have to fill your whole flock. You don't have to. I mean obviously, like now that I know what's going on with my girls, I can make a more informed decision. If I see somebody suffering, I'm gonna obviously be like, no, what, this is what it is, and I can maybe ease their suffering a lot quicker, because there there really is no recovery from it. People who are thinking, oh, you can nurse them back to health the ocular one, I think I'm not gonna give a definitive answer.

melissa:

I'm not a veterinarian, but there are situations that possibly they could recover and continue on yeah, but I do know that, like gail dammer has said, it's an 80% Mortality rate.

Rai:

I will go by her, like her stuff is like the Bible for me, so, and that's what people need to realize. But if you know like, oh, it's Merrick's, okay, well, if I start seeing the chicken showing Symptoms of it, I'm gonna be calling my bet and we're gonna be having a conversation a lot quicker than me thinking, oh well, maybe it's just this, you know.

melissa:

Yeah, and then I have to suffer for longer than they really should and and they will fight.

Rai:

And again, keep in mind, chickens are prey animals. They will not show their symptoms until they can't hide them anymore. So it's usually too late by the time you see the symptoms. And I think that's an important part of being with your birds you know something's wrong if you're out there with them a lot and you're like, oh well, this is, this is funny, they're acting just a little off, they're real subtle with, sometimes with the way they behave, but they're not feeling good. But if you're out there and you know your birds, you'll be like, huh, that little spidey sense goes off and you get that gut feeling. You're like no one. Maybe I ought to do this. Like I know I've got some people sneezing right now Out in my coop and so, like this morning I went out there and I gave them a bunch of like extra vitamins. I fermented some feed for them, just preventative stuff, because like that little gut feelings going off like if you don't take care of this now, it's gonna snow, it's not worse.

melissa:

Yep, absolutely. That's why we always say then do your little chicken checkups and if you spend enough time with them, you will know. And it is it. Because I'm like, robert, there's some going on with this one here, just for instance, and he's like no, there's not, there's nothing wrong. I'm like, yeah, they're like she walked. She walked weird for 1.2 seconds up. Something is happening with her, and it usually always is something.

Rai:

Hell check is being nice. You need to watch out.

melissa:

She is. She's getting picked on right now, which is yeah, I Checked her over, I didn't see anything, but she's at least six it. I have to go back and look, but at least six might be time for her to go to the retirement community. Yeah, she may be going over to the single ladies club because we made a single ladies club and it's a woman that right. Yeah, Wilma's and willow would not participate any longer in with mr Jamos. She is in the single ladies group.

Rai:

She's believer it.

melissa:

She is, her hair is.

Rai:

You look so pretty glitter. I love it.

melissa:

She's all they didn't know. Yeah, she just had white feathers coming, which is crazy. That's just part of the genetics.

Rai:

But she looks so pretty though she always looks good. Yeah, that's how we've been feeling about Leia.

melissa:

That's how is she doing though?

Rai:

Um, every time we drain her, we take her in to get drained. The fluid has been kind of like beer colored is the best way to describe it, and that is a symptom of like organ failure. So she's an active organ failure, um, but otherwise, like she's molten, looks beautiful and like she's beat a crap out of her flock. Persephone her her name was originally Princess Leia and their best friends and it is you to watch them together Until Persephone takes them over food, and then it's not good.

melissa:

They are, I don't know, my potions, since it since, well, since winter kind of started. They just, they just been named each other. I mean really mean the little ones beat up the big ones.

Rai:

And it's short girls and syndrome. We're closer to hell, you know.

melissa:

Well, they're only five foot one. I probably can't play till a little bit.

Rai:

Yeah, I understand. I'm like barely five, three.

melissa:

So when you mentioned about where you got the chicks from and I know a lot of people coming march they're gonna be getting chicks. There are a lot of places that don't vaccinate, or maybe people are not aware that they don't vaccinate, like if your goal is to get vaccinated chicks Going to your local feed store. I don't. I know here our local feed stores do not vaccinate.

Rai:

I don't. As a general practice, it seems to be that they don't Like the even some of the local breeders you have to ask.

melissa:

You know you want vaccinated. I know you're not going to mention the name and that's fine. You don't have to mention where you got them, but Did you think that they were vaccinated? Did you even think about um? Should I vaccinate them? I just kind of that way can. Maybe people are thinking you know how to explain to them that they just because you're getting it from a breeder online or ordering chicks, doesn't mean they're automatically vaccinating them.

Rai:

So if you go in and you order chicks, some places will allow you to say like, hey, listen, I want, I want them vaccinated, and they'll tack on a fee. Um, if you buy directly from the hatchery, you can definitely make this happen. I Actually, the place I got mine this is like the cool thing about them that I really appreciated they gave me a little sheet of paper and on that sheet of paper, told me the batch number of the chicks, told me when they were hatched it's just a hatchery that they came from and I contact, just full disclosure. I searched the hatchery with the word marix and it came up and they told me when I emailed them that they couldn't tell me. I was like, but I have the batch number, I have the receipts, like, this is where you, I got them from, and they refused to talk to me at all. But some of those backyard chicken groups, less marics. So, um, I will be doing better research next time and I will not purchase from that hatchery. Now, I'm not going to put them on blast because maybe they f-ed up, you know, but, um, if you're going through somebody who is MPIP, they won't have marics in their flock. They test for all of that. Um, there's a breeder up by where I work and I just looked at their website and they only sell vaccinated chicks for marics. They don't vaccinate against coccidiosis because your birds are going to get that eventually, but exposed Like here.

melissa:

we don't vaccinate for coccidiosis, but they they get exposed to their mom.

Rai:

Yeah, I mean they're going to eventually be, they're going to have it in their system eventually, and it only gets bad when the load becomes too much for them to deal with.

melissa:

So um, what do you mean to like try and make you feel like. I don't want you to think that I meant like you did it. You didn't do enough research. Oh no, I don't mean that. You know that. I would never mean that. No, I mean like if someone's in your position and they're new, you know just getting new chicks, and that is a huge concern, cause when you hear marics and the chicken community, it's like yeah, yeah, freak out.

Rai:

So, like a Bola, like people, like yeah, I think the thing is is that if you're going to be a new chicken keeper and you're going to do this, ask for the batch number, ask for the hatchery, like you're going down to one of these, you know giant, you know feed stores and and I will tell you my favorite feed store, I did not purchase chicks from them. So, um, you know, ask for those details, ask for the batch number, because they they, if they're going to be shipping chicks, the hatchery itself is supplying to these big chain stores. If they're going to be shipping these chicks, they have to have a paper trail. So you should be entitled to that knowledge as well. Because what if you get a chick that's like really, really sick or it's that really bad genetics and you want to know about it? Or you know what if God forbid it? Like they have Michael Plasmosis, which they shouldn't. But you know what happened. What happened? I would be filed a paper trail. So that's something for people to know. But just know that if you're buying from one of these big feed stores, they do not vaccinate their chicks. You're going to have to do it yourself, which on a little tiny chick, I don't know if I could do, but, um, like it's hard enough for the big girls giving them any type of like shot, but, like with little guys, they're so small. But there is a way to do it and I'm going to find out how to do it and then teach people because I think that's important. But just follow the paper trail, ask for those things. Don't feel embarrassed to ask for that hatcheries and PIP number, because if something's going wrong and like they missed it because I think testing, you would have to ask Marissa, because I don't know much about the whole process because I can't go through it, but I know that they only test once or twice a year and they can absolutely slip through the cracks. They may not test the bird that has that.

melissa:

There is in our state. If you have a certain number in your thought, then you have to test all of your, you know, a smaller, a smaller flock. I believe that you can do. We looked into this a while back and we just we never I got too many other things on them, but depending on your state, but that's neither here nor there. But yeah, I mean, if the IP is usually always the best way to go, it doesn't mean that you're not going to get any illnesses, because there's illnesses that they just don't test for. They only test for so many. That's a good place to start, though, if you're going to order, if I was going to, if I'm going to order chicks again.

Rai:

It would either be from the local place, but they don't. They do street runs and I can't have roosters. And as much as I would love a leg bar army, I don't all leg bars. The hairspray would just be too much for everybody. You know I probably order from like McMurray. I don't know if you deal with them, but I like them a lot. They've been very nice to me.

melissa:

I know that I've ordered from McMurray, we get our hatching eggs from a local breeder here. You know we never had an issue with eating type viruses. The only thing we'd have that I would say the proxy that we have, the proxy here is for fending the birth syndrome, and that's obviously just genetic. It's not something that's to be. Yeah.

Rai:

They keep us on our toes, don't they? Yeah?

melissa:

It's always something like it's so much Nice, they all back in the old day, you know you didn't have all these diseases for chicken. You did. And I'm like, yeah, you did, you just didn't know what, noted, they just fell dead and then you were like dinner, it's dinner and I'm basically it's all like like I see my husband because raw they they raise chickens here when he was a little kid and I mean he's old and syrup, so, um, they've had chickens here forever and if one of them happened to die, and my mom grew up on a farm and she told me right after her question.

Rai:

She said like I don't know, she's like if they were sick, we would just put them down and we'd have them on the dinner table, like, and I'm like, well, there's nothing wrong with that. You're feeding your family Awesome.

melissa:

Awesome, yes, absolutely Like I'll put that out there.

Rai:

You know, it's not what I would personally choose to do. Um, they also didn't have any type of close relationship with their birds. It was like oh, they're, they're out there. We have chickens. Oh, you know, they were a food source and that's what they were meant to be, and there's nothing wrong with that. For anybody who might think oh no, there's nothing wrong with that, you feed your family, you do it's best for you. Again, what you do in your coop is what you do in your coop. It's not my cup.

melissa:

What are you, what are your plans? Do you, are you at your max where you live, of how many birds you can have? Yes, oh, for your max, I have six of her.

Rai:

We actually um the bearded clown. I we purchased our, his dad's, my father-in-law's house and it's out in the country and there's about an acre and it's farm country and we can do whatever we want. We can have roosters out there. So in like 10 years or so we'll probably move out there, once we're ready to retire, and just keep doing what we're doing. But if I'm going to add anything to my flock, I think I'm just going to let my flock diminish until it's not socially healthy for them anymore. Like you really shouldn't have one or two together. Like that's cause. Once one dies and it's all by itself it's not good. They're social preachers. But um, well, if we're going to add anybody, it's going to vaccinate it birds and I know there's this whole who fly you shouldn't mix it. Vaccinate with unvaccinated, it doesn't matter. At the end of the day, once, like they're either going to get it or they're not. You know, yeah.

melissa:

Yeah, there's a whole big discussion on it, and I mean a huge discussion, um, depending on where you look, you know, like in groups and online and stuff. I kind of feel the same way as you do.

Rai:

You know it's at the end of the day. You know what I mean. I haven't had my flu shot, but some so has like, oh, we're not going to mingle because I haven't had my. You know it just causes too much, you know we see stress of the bird, headaches of the bird.

melissa:

Um, you know, all of those things play factor into. Is it going to present itself? You know, are they curing it? And they're not going to. They. They go their whole life and you would never know it. Like not necessarily. I mean like internal symptoms, I mean like they don't present any. You know they just died.

Rai:

Natural causes and I mean, like what they could pass away from isn't necessarily like the, the, the crops that I have, isn't? They died of marics. It was died of something else, with marics as a complication, like it wasn't the main cause. Um, you know, we're not going to have silks. I, they're adorable. I I love watching other people have them. There is too much work involved with them and Polish adorable don't want them. So you know, we're going to probably pick breeds that are a little bit more hearty when it comes to that, if we're going to decide to add anything. And you know I'm I'm obsessed with the Samanis now. So thanks, marissa, I'm obsessed, she's so cute. But they would have to be vaccinated before they show up at my door, kind of deal. But I think it's all going to be fine. It's just I know what to look for. Now is the big thing, and you know I'm hoping that they all go through their lives and never present anything and just live nice, happy lives. There's no reason for them to be stressed. It's not like they have jobs, it's not like they're paying bills. You know they don't have to worry or food is coming from.

melissa:

I know they just wake up and stare at you.

Rai:

They just have to scream and say I want more food and it's it's brought to them, so I don't understand the stress.

melissa:

That's I mean for our listeners. Obviously you could go over a few things of what stress would mean to a bird. You know small spaces. Yada, yada, yada.

Rai:

Yeah, Space is a huge issue with birds. They like their own personal space. They enjoy invading other people's personal space If they want that space. The pecking order can be something stressful. I don't have roosters. I know that roosters can cause stress. Not having a rooster can cause stress. I know my girls get freaked out when they see an airplane.

melissa:

How do new members, you know, changing their environment, all those things?

Rai:

I mean even changing the water or changing the feeder. They're not like change, they are creatures of habit and they want it a certain way. And you know, I have this cute little puppy that I want to introduce and I can't do it yet because she's too wild for them. So I don't want to stress them out with the puppy coming at them and a perceived threat, because that's the last thing they need.

melissa:

I mean, you just answered one question Right after another that I had. No. No, that's good. That's good that we want. We want more your voice and less of my voice. So you know what I mean. Like we want to hear from you, we want you to educate our followers. Does it matter? You know? Like I'm not here to educate, I'm here to facilitate you, to educate I as a teacher, I understand this. Whether I know something or not is not the point here. We want you to educate others, so if you have something else you want to share, then I want you to really share it.

Rai:

I think, like the big thing is we need to have conversations about Merrick's and Stop making it be this end, all be all. You know there are ways to prevent it from going to other flocks good biosecurity. I found this really awesome spray for my clothes. You know, I can use and I can show. I think it's called synergize or something, and if you dilute it a little bit, you can just spray it down on your coop clothes. I I'm gonna be putting it on my shoes when I go down the street to go see Frederick chickens because I'm helping her with something. I'm gonna make sure that I'm taking the correct precautions, but it needs to stop being this. You know what we're just. It's like avian flu. We're just gonna burn everything to the ground and forget about it. It's not like that. It is sad. It is very sad to watch if you happen. So I Think it's fun to talk about having those hard conversations.

melissa:

Yeah, I think those conversations are important and, like I said in the beginning, there's like this blue thing, you know, people who would have Merrick's in their block, a lot of them that they probably not gonna talk to anybody because they're just it's like in their statement or something Is what I. I feel like they are.

Rai:

They are bears that they let this happen you know, that definitely went through my brain because I was like, oh my god, I sit here and preach biosecurity all the time and like I work really hard to make sure that I'm doing the correct things. How on earth did this happen? And then, like you see, like the people taking their chicken to the feed for, and you're like, how do they not have something? You know, and we, we work really hard to be very careful, but no one's perfect and that has been a huge like Life lesson for me and like it was extremely humbling to have that happen because, like I said there, and I get upset, I'm like, wow, I know all all these people that, like they don't use hardware cloth, they're constantly dealing with predators breaking into their coop and run like half their flock gets wiped out. And I've got this and I work really hard to make sure that my girls live the life and are as safe as possible. And it just it hurts my heart to know that it's there, but I can only do so much. I can't get on like a viral level and stop things.

melissa:

Oh yeah, absolutely not, and that's what I'm saying. We shouldn't expect other chicken keepers, you know, and they shouldn't feel embarrassed my flock could have barracks and I have no idea. It's not presented itself, but that doesn't mean it's not there or may become there at some point.

Rai:

It doesn't, it's more a collection of us at all.

melissa:

Completely it goes under the People taking their chickens attractor supply, which we we always tell you do not take your chicken attractor supply but they they may never get married. Oh, but that's just the way it is. But you can do things like you said. You know be cautious of where you get your chickens. You know if you're getting chicks, definitely be cautious if you're adding adult chickens into younger chickens that that can cause an issue. You know, because they're still young and they're vulnerable to, you know, sexual, to be sick and illnesses.

Rai:

Oh, something else with the Merrick's vaccine. If you have vaccinated chicks, you want to keep everything separate for a very long period of time, like I know that it's like you know, eight or nine weeks. I would go even further than that. That's just me. I have like the ability to do that, but not everybody does. But you again want to practice like the biosecurity with your chicks because they are the most vulnerable, up until 30 something weeks. So just keep that in mind, like they're the most vulnerable and I know that like we're trying to introduce them to a whole different, like whole different type of biome, like all different viruses that are out there. Just be aware that it could take your chicks down pretty quick and that's heartbreaking too. Just they're just, it's a little oh.

melissa:

Well, we appreciate everything that you've shared today. We're always so grateful. I know it's. This is raise a break, and we've tried to set this podcast up for For a while now, but I've been sick all week this flu so, but I'm feeling a lot better. We're grateful for all your information and if our listeners have it, if you've had an issue of various or you feel like you Need someone to talk to, you could always say Ray, a DM, or you can send me, obviously, the DM. We don't claim to be any type of Veterinary professionals, but there is a general knowledge that we can share and we can do in touch with others who have more, maybe more knowledge of that, and it's good to have a support system.

Rai:

That's like having a support system. I mean, if nothing else, like if I can't help you, I'm just gonna sit there and be like I am so sorry because I Feel your pain, I empathize with your pain. So Betty, betty has just said that she's my anxious, shits you. She's so sweet, she is a sweet.

melissa:

But we appreciate you and we appreciate all of our listeners and We'll see you next time, rai. Okay, thanks, have a good one now.

Chickens and Winter Break Conversation
Recent Issues in Chicken Flock Discussion
Discussion on Mariks Disease in Chickens
Chicken Flock Care and Understanding
Vaccinating Chicks and Hatchery Information
Merrick's Disease and Stress in Chickens
Supportive Discussion About Veterinary Knowledge