The History of Murray McMurray Hatchery

Murray McMurray hatchery is where many of us buy our poultry, they sell quality birds, tons of supplies and offer excellent customer service and support. That might be all we need to know, but the company has a history, a long history, and I’d like to share with you their story…

Murray McMurray officially started his chicken business in 1917. He had always been interested in poultry as a young man and particularly enjoyed showing birds at the local and state fairs. He was in the banking business at this time and sold baby chicks through the bank to area farmers and hobbyists… Continue reading

Backyard Biosecurity, Healthy Chicken Keeping

Backyard biosecurity means doing everything you can to protect your birds from disease. As a bird owner, keeping your birds healthy is a top priority. Your birds can become sick or die from exposure to just a few unseen bacteria, viruses,or parasites. In a single day, these germs can multiply and infect all your birds. However, by practicing backyard biosecurity, you can keep your birds healthy.
If you follow these basic tips and make them part of your routine, you decrease the risk of disease entering your flock and persisting in soil, droppings, and debris. Practicing biosecurity is an investment in the health of your birds.

When You Suspect Disease

Do not wait to report unusual signs of disease or unexpected deaths among your birds. Call your agricultural extension agent, local veterinarian, the State Veterinarian, or U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Veterinary Services office.
USDA operates a toll-free hotline: (1–866–536–7593) with veterinarians to help you. USDA wants to test sick birds to make sure they do not have a serious poultry disease.

There is no charge for USDA veterinarians to work with you to conduct a disease investigation. Early reporting is important to protecting the health of your birds!

Disinfect

Cleaning and disinfecting is one of the most important steps you can take in practicing backyard biosecurity.
Below are some examples of disinfectants available on the market. Follow the directions on the label carefully for the best results.Thoroughly clean and scrub objects before applying
disinfectants. Disinfectants cannot work on top of caked-on dirt and manure, so thoroughly wash surfaces before disinfecting.
Apply disinfectants using brushes, sponges and spray units. Allow adequate contact time (follow manufacturer’s instructions.)
Dispose of used disinfectant according to local regulations.

Examples of Disinfectants

• Roccal®: Mix 1/2 fluid oz of Roccal per gallon of water.
• Nolvasan® (chlorhexidine diacetate 2 percent): Mix
• 3 fluid oz of Nolvasan per gallon of water.
• Household bleach (sodium hypochlorite 6 percent):
• Mix 3/4 cup of household bleach per gallon of water.
• Lysol® spray for footwear
• Purell® hand pump for hand disinfection

Source: United States Dept. of Agriculture, USDA  http://www.aphis.usda.gov/vs
Photo: Wikipedia

The Pecking Order Among Chickens

Managing the Thugs in Social Ranking

The pecking order determines which chicken may eat first, where which chicken is allowed to sit on the perch, or even even drink. It is often the stronger or larger birds that rank highest in the social order.

The organizational power among chickens can be pretty brutal, fighting, pecking, and injuries often occur. To minimize ciaos,  offering feeders, drinkers and nesting areas in more than one place is helpful.

Note:  It is also important to consider the fact that over crowding can contribute to argumentative behavior or feather loss due to pecking.

The perch is a common place for pecking or bullying, especially when there are rank differences.  Watching them find a place to retire for the night is a complicated process.  The pecking order rarely changes among an existing flock, however we have some power over the pecking order simply by removing the higher ranking birds for a few weeks.  I bring this up because it is sometimes necessary to intervene when the pecking order becomes so aggressive that weaker birds are plagued with injuries.

Once a weaker bird’s skin is exposed from being pecked on, the situation worsens and another problem occurs. One measly drop of blood is enough to create absolute havoc in the chicken yard.  Something happens to chickens when they get a taste of blood, and they become quite capable of literally pecking a bird to death. Of course, before this happens the injured chicken will have to be removed and placed in isolation to heal and grow new feathers.  It is usually 3 weeks to a month before new feathers cover the affected area. Or, you can do nothing, and stay out of the pecking order process entirely, which many poultry keepers believe to be the best way.  But personally, I’m not at all fond of watching my birds one by one begin to look like they’ve been through a meat grinder.

What to Do

It certainly makes better sense to remove the trouble makers rather than constantly doctoring chickens. There are usually 2 or 3 thugs that dominate a small flock, isolate them from the weaker birds for a few weeks. Then you can re-introduce them to the flock, but only one bird at a time over the course of a week. This will lessen the chances of them ganging up on the existing flock.

If this doesn’t work…  I’m afraid you have a difficult decision to make.