Well its been too long since anything was posted to this thread, so I thought I'd bump it back up - with a question for all you chicken folks
This weekend we acquired some additional chickens from a woman who lives about 4 miles from us, and who buys eggs from us. She told me that she was just "tired of messing with them," and asked if we wanted them. The fact that she had chickens of her own, but was still buying eggs from us should have been a tip off that something was wrong, but I didn't get it. There are 25 adults, and 23 young ones - ranging in age from about 4 weeks to about 8 weeks old. Of the adults, about half are roosters, and will probably end up in the freezer, as we have too many roosters already.
All of the chickens have been quarantined from my larger flock. When we picked them up, I noticed that many of the adult birds have foot problems. They were kept in poor conditions to say the least, and were fed a diet of mostly cracked corn - I'm sure there are nutiritional deficiencies. From the looks of their feet, they might have scaly leg mites.
The babies appear to be fine. Although to this point they've only had cracked corn, I am starting them today on medicated chick starter. When they're big enough, we'll introduce them to our flock. They were, by the way, hatched from eggs the previous owner bought from me
, so I know their lineage. As an aside, if I'd known the coniditions the older birds were kept in, I would have never sold her eggs for hatching, but that is a lesson learned. At least the babies are back with us now, and will be fine.
I've done some reading, and it appears that all of the problems the adult birds are having could have been avoided with proper care and housing. I have them set up in a separate pen apart from my flock until I determine what, if anything, I can do with them.
Scaly leg mites can be taken care of by dipping the chickens' legs and feet in oil about every 3 or 4 days for two weeks. This will smother out the mites and the scales will heal themselves.
My concern is that their feet problems (a couple are near lame) may not be limited to the mites. Besides keeping them away from my larger flock, treating for the mites, and improving their diet, do you have any suggestions I might try to heal them? Or, should they just go straight to the freezer?
I know there are concerns about genetics, introducing them into my own flock down the road, but after having seen their prior living conditions, I'm pretty sure the causes are environmental, not genetic.