I have a sick bird, do I have to cull my flock?

OK folks, we are going to get this out of the way. I can’t tell you how many times I have talked to people that tell me they had to cull their flock because they had a sick bird. My first reaction is”Huh What?”, what do you mean you had to cull your flock? Did the Department of Agriculture come to your house? Did the Center for Disease Control knock on your door? Were there men in white coats hovered around your chicken pens? “No, one of my birds sneezed and people on xyz poultry forum told me I had to cull my flock”. Every time I hear this I want to beat my head against a wall.

Folks, just because your chicken sneezed, coughed, chirped, gurgled, burped, had watery eyes or a runny nose is not a reason to cull your whole flock. In 40 odd years raising thousands of chickens and talking with thousands of chicken keepers, I have never known anyone who HAD to cull their flock. That is not to say that there has not been instances where some disease had been let go too long and just for the sake of the chickens suffering that it might not have been better to just cull the flock. Or there may be that one bird within the flock who is so sick that it is best to cull just to put it out of its misery. But to cull a whole flock because someone told you so, without knowing what the cause is, what the disease is, and what treatment options there are is downright tragic.

There are only a handful of diseases that would ever require you to cull your flock, such as Pullorum, Typhoid, or Avian Influenza, and if your flock contracted any of these then believe me you would want men in little white coats there to cull your flock. So people, put down the hatchet and quit digging holes.

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