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How old should they be, to start disease and parasite free?

Posts: 1981
Location: La Palma (Canary island) Zone 11
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I have no chick yet and would not like to welcome adult hens that are contaminated....
I do not want to incubate eggs in an incubator, that I do not have anyway.

I know people raising hens (well appart from the breed choice which is another problem...)
At what age should I get the birds from them?
Should I start with 2 days chicks for example?
Then what sort of installation would be needed for them?
My climate is subtropical. The only chick killer would be rats. And a little hawk that can pick up small ones. And cats...

My place is full of pigeons, that of course eat in all local poultry yards around...
So, does it mean that I should not care about getting any kind of hens?
Will pigeons carry "stuff" anyway with their feet?
Posts: 755
Location: zone 6b
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My free range chickens have been amazingly germ- and parasite-free. Despite all the wild birds. I think if they have access to full nutrition they are able to self-medicate and their immune systems are strong enough to fight off most problems. We got one once that had been in a small cage on someone's deck. She was missing lots of feathers and didn't seem too healthy (a rescue -someone had to get rid of a pet). She ate lots of artemesia (wormwood) and was the only one that ever ate it, then her feathers grew back and she was quite nice.

If you look them over when you get them, I wouldn't worry too much about germs, etc. The main issue is if it's a dishonest seller trying to pass off an old hen that quit laying instead of a new one. Just 1 year old or slightly younger is ideal - you should get two good years of eggs out of them.

Here's a pretty good checklist of how to tell if a chicken is healthy: http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/how-to-buy-healthy-adult-chickens.html
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