Perfect beautiful little jewels. We have awaited this day for months.
Back in May of 2013 my lovely flock of ladies, each with a name, contracted a respiratory disease brought in by several seemingly healthy new pullets I had purchased. Even though I had quarantined the newcomers for at least 4 weeks my flock still fell victim to this bacterial infection. I started hearing sneezing, and noticed the hen house had an odd smell, I knew something was wrong. The sneezing was followed by foamy eyes, wheezing, & weakness. Hen after hen came down with the symptoms. I removed the visibly sick to a different pen. It continued to spread, though some hens seemed completely fine. I did a lot of research and determined that the new pullets must have brought in Infectious Bronchitis. Those who had symptoms were not likely to survive, those without symptoms would be lifelong carriers of the disease and infect any new birds. We had already slaughtered the sickest birds but now knew what we must do. The decision was made to slaughter the entire flock, 24 beautiful hens. A horrible day, a horrible waste. The house & pen were cleaned, opened up to the sun and natures elements. For 6 months I let it sit empty, more than enough time to ensure the disease organisms had died. We missed the hens and the enjoyment they brought to the farm. Their antics, their individual personalities, the pest control, compost & yes those beautiful eggs.
In September of 2013 I purchased a mixed variety of 18 vaccinated day old layer chicks from Murray McMurray hatchery to restart our flock. They were brooded and raised in a chicken tractor that was moved daily across the yard. They grew into healthy young pullets and then were moved into the now disease free hen house. And then yesterday those pullets, each with a name, became hens. A new healthy laying flock, full of comedic antics, individual personalities and yes those beautiful eggs!
In nearly 30 years of raising chickens we hadn’t ever experienced anything like this. I now possess some very hard earned knowledge and am a better flockswoman for it.