- Avian or Bird Flu
- Internal parasites
- Many, many different diseases
- Feed theft
- Large poultry companies attempting to get laws passed outlawing backyard chickens by claiming they help spread disease
- When outbreaks of bird flu hit commercial flocks the health officials will euthanize all flocks of poultry in a ten mile circle including backyard chickens
“Not a lot of people realize that the infamous Spanish Flu that killed millions of people at the turn of the century was a form of avian flu..”
For your Safety
Wild Birds Must be Kept Away
When wild birds start stealing chicken feed most flock owners worry about the cost of the stolen feed but what they ought to be worried about is the disease, parasites, and pests the wild birds bring with them. The bird flu has been a real problem with commercial flocks and those birds are locked away in some pretty tight housing where backyard flocks are wide open to wild birds.
The bird flu or avian flue can be carried by wild birds and ducks without the carriers becoming ill but the chickens will have no immunity and the virus mutates rapidly. It is just a matter of time before the lobbyists working for the commercial poultry industry attempts to clamp down on backyard flocks by blaming them for spreading the disease. Being a responsible flock owner means doing all that you can to isolate your chickens and other poultry from wild birds for your own safety as well as the future of the backyard chicken movement.
The bird flu in China has already crossed over to humans with bird to human transmission but if it mutates into human to human spread disease we will have a problem on our hands to the point where even the most enthusiastic chicken owner won’t hesitate to get rid of their flock. Not a lot of people realize that the infamous Spanish Flu that killed millions of people at the turn of the century was a form of avian flu.
Preventing wild birds from stealing your feed is as simple as not allowing them to eat the feed by using a rat proof chicken feeder. Avoid the treadle feeders with the wide steps that allow wild birds to reach the feed when enough bids land on the treadle. If the door is counter weighted and spring loaded that is even better. But if you research this topic online you will find a lot of the focus is on either trying to block the birds out, scare them away somehow, or only feeding by hand a few times a day. For some reason people initially reject the idea that a treadle feeder fixes the problems so we will cover the other methods too.
Some people have set large plastic trash cans over their feeders, taking the covers off twice a day for a half hour at a time. Not sure many of us have the luxury of being there every day much less the time and discipline to remember to unblock the feeder.
- Fencing birds out is difficult
- Plastic Owls? Don’t work
- Bird netting helps but doesn’t completely stop
- Bird poop like you have never seen before
- Cut off the food and the birds will leave
- Treadle feeders will fix the problem quickly
People that thought chicken wire would stop sparrows learned otherwise, only hardware cloth will stop a sparrow or netting. Others rely on fluttering tape or even old CDs hung on strings, thinking that the fluttering and flashing will scare the birds away. Some have sworn that buying a plastic owl would stop the wild birds only to find that their chickens were afraid of the plastic owl too and wouldn’t come out of the coop. Unfortunately the wild bird eventually realize that the owls are fake, some people report the wild birds will roost on the fake owls.
People have tried making lightweight doors that wild birds can’t push open but chickens can, fine until they realize that chickens aren’t likely to want to go around pushing doors open, most will stare at it and make a fuss waiting to be let in or out. Others have resorted to ending the free range and cooping the chickens up 24/7. Pens that are made out of chicken wire, chain link, or fencing wire can be closed off somewhat using bird netting found at many of the larger garden stores. A big roll is around $20.00 and will cover a lot of chicken pen. When hawks are the biggest problem and you have an open run some people have had success with using mono filament fishing line strung closely together across the top of the pen. The sharp eyed hawks and eagles can see the wire and won’t risk betting trapped but of course that won’t stop smaller birds like crows or starlings, both of which can and do kill baby chicks.
The truly epic wild bird problems can involve thousands of birds mobbing the pen, cleaning out the feed and water in minutes and leaving gallons of bird poo over every surface in sight. There is one story out there on the internet about a free range flock ran by Fifth Crow Farms. They got a grant for a few dozen rat proof chicken feeder and not only solved their feed loss problems, those same wild birds had been snacking on their loose leaf lettuce crops and just a few bird pecks were enough to ruin the salability of an entire lettuce bunch. Plus the birds pooping over the lettuce fields on the way to or from the chicken feeders.
The problem with rats is two fold; available safe space for nesting and a ready food supply. Birds don’t need the safe nesting places, they only need access to the chicken feed. A wild bird living a natural life has little time to spend doing anything other than searching for wild food. Once you purchase a proper treadle feeder with a narrow step and a spring loaded door the birds will have no choice but to look elsewhere for their food.