Easter is April 16th this year!
Growing up, when I thought about Easter, two things came to mind – Easter bunny and baby chicks! While this probably hasn’t changed for kids today, those with backyard flocks often look to Easter as a great time to add to the flock! Seeing as spring has sprung in many places across the U.S already, you may be considering picking up a couple cute cheep-cheeps as an Easter surprise for your kids, friends, or even yourself! If you are considering adding to your flock this spring, please be careful about where you get your chicks from. Facebook run flock-swap pages are popping up across the U.S and while the idea of getting your chicks locally and avoiding all the hassle of minimum orders from online hatcheries and expensive shipping fees, remember that you are often getting what you pay for!
I have been to several local flock swaps and I think they are so much fun. I love seeing all the local birds and breeders but I do not bring birds home. While the caretakers are often sweet people, people selling at flock-swaps are often selling their own hatchlings. When you order chicks from online hatcheries you are required to vaccinate your chicks from diseases like Newcastle’s, Mareks, Fowlpox and Infectious Bronchitis. These are all highly infectious diseases that can wipe out a 60 bird flock in less than a week!
If you are considering getting new birds this spring at a flock swap make sure you ask about their vaccinations! Biosecurity is everything when it comes to keeping your birds safe! Now, this isn’t to say that all flock-swaps are dangerous and you should never go! Go check it all out! Meeting new people with the same interest as yourself is always a great idea and they are generally all kid friendly! (Though you may want to leave Fido at home.) If you do choose to bring a bird home with sketchy vaccination history, please quarantine the bird for at least a week. I will be posting quarantine directions and will link it here soon.
If flock swaps aren’t really your style but you still want to add to your flock, consider checking out local hatcheries! They are becoming more common, especially in the southern states. If you are located in the Research Triangle Park area in NC (Chapel Hill, Durham, and Raleigh) please consider checking out Little Birdie Hatchery located in Wake Forest, NC. It is NPIP certified and state certified. I have gotten birds from them before that were wonderful and never had any health issues. Full disclosure: the owner is a friend and classmate of mine in the Poultry Science department at NCSU. He studies chickens for a living so I can promise you’re in good hands!
So enjoy this beautiful Easter season with family and feathery friends! Avoid Craigslist sellers and sketchy flock swaps. Teach your flock friends proper biosecurity tactics! Remember, it only takes one sick bird to infect hundreds!