Visiting the Site
Many poultry breeders allow prospective buyers onto their land and encourage them to view and even handle their livestock. This is not a good idea! Sadly, people carry all sorts of poultry diseases, infections and parasites in to flocks and on to farms on their clothing and footwear. If you’re allowed in think carefully about who and, more importantly, what else has been brought to that flock.
Be wary of anyone who:
- is willing to let you onto their land without marching you, first, through disinfectant and then again when you leave the property.
- doesn’t take some form of contact address from you: they should want, and possibly need, to be able to notify you if there is an outbreak of a contagious or even a notifiable disease within their flock.
Examine the Flock
Unfortunately, not all breeders care very much for the health and welfare of their flock and they will happily sell you something which is either sick or, in extreme cases, dying. (If you are new to keeping chickens and are not confident that you know what to look for in a new pet, can you ask someone more knowledgeable to accompany you?) Look critically at the animals presented to you:
- are the chickens showing signs of disease or infection?
- are the birds injured or deformed?
- are the birds infested with parasites?
(To learn more about what a healthy chicken should look like, please see our health guide for more information).
There is nothing harder than saying no to a poorly hen but it is, absolutely, the right thing to do. Don’t bring anything home which might infect your land, any other hens you already own or might cost you a fortune at the vet. Finally, if you are very concerned about the condition of the birds you have seen then contact the RSPCA immediately.