Yesterday I rang the vets to ask for some more tylan as I have just used the last of my stock on the recent treatment. The receptionist looked up my records and I mentioned in our conversation that I now have twelve girls in the flock.
The receptionist said that she must talk to the vet first and that she would get the vet to call me back. I wondered why the vet needed to call me when I had always been given more tylan before.
The vet called me half an hour later and had a long chat with me. This was a different vet that I hadn’t spoken to before. She said that it wasn’t a good idea to keep using an antibiotic treatment. She said that things have changed in the medical world since I began giving tylan, three years ago, and that in humans and animals the medical profession are now much more worried about antimicrobial resistance.
This basically means that the ongoing use of antibiotics could cause bacteria or diseases to alter to become immune to antibiotics.
I said that I had been advised that I could keep tylan in stock to treat my flock when needed. She said that it had been assumed that I would let my flock age and die out and that it wasn’t expected that I would add new girls. I said that I wished they had had this conversation with me before as it had never been mentioned until now. I can’t believe that they made that assumption without ever discussing it with me.
I said that my research had shown that as long it is a closed flock, meaning girls don’t go out of the flock, that it was okay to manage it with treatment when needed. She said that she felt that only applied if you didn’t add new girls. She said that it was irresponsible of me to bring new girls into the flock.
She also said that I could be endangering the wild bird population. I explained that my run is completely self contained and roofed and that there is no contact with the wild birds.
She asked me if I had lost any girls to mycoplasma since I had been treating with tylan. I explained that I hadn’t. I had lost three girls to prolapse and two girls to old age. This reduced my flock from ten to five so I took it up to twelve to maintain the flock size.
I said that I thought Dandelion was the carrier as she is always the first to show symptoms during moulting or frosty weather and she is the only one to have bubbles in her eyes. I said the other girls just had sneezing and recently when Dandelion had shown symptoms I have treated them all even though none of the others showed symptoms, to nip it in bud and be on the safe side.
She then dropped the bombshell on me that she seriously advised that I have Dandelion culled, I prefer the term, put to sleep! She said that they wouldn’t give me more tylan until Dandelion was gone and we had had one clear winter without mycoplasma.
She said that she knew it sounder hard hearted but that if Dandelion was becoming ill every winter then it was not fair on her to keep her going. Without Dandelion there is a chance that myco may not return to my flock.
I was by now in tears and asked if I could discuss it with my husband later and get back to her soon.
It is heartbreaking to think of having to let Dandelion go. It’s difficult enough making the decision to have an unwell girl put to sleep but to have a well girl put to sleep is a much harder thing to do. We have talked in the past of having to let Dandelion go but she is now fully feathered and beautiful, laying eggs and is so friendly and Cinnamon will be lost without her, not to mention how much we will miss her.
But I have to weigh up the good of the flock and her long term well being too. I have wondered how many more winters I could get her through. I have been thinking that as she gets older the winters will become more and more difficult for her and maybe there is a chance that the flock would be free of this without her.
The vet made it clear that if I didn’t do this there would be no more tylan available for me. I discussed this with my husband and he suggested we could just keep her or we could say that we had culled her, these suggestions were not really serious, but we were just trying to look at all the options. My husband also suggested that I ask Dave and Sophie what they think about this but I know that at the end of the day it is my responsibility.
What I kept coming back to was that if we keep Dandelion and she relapses and I am not allowed tylan then she will get very ill and if she passes that on to the others and they get ill too then without treatment I could lose the whole flock.
The vet said it would be very irresponsible of me to keep Dandelion and that I should discuss it with my husband and get back to her. I am so upset by this but I don’t see that I have any choice.
I even considered giving her one last summer and then giving her up but if something stressed her and she relapsed I could risk the whole flock and anyway how do you decide when it should be. I can’t go through summer with this hanging over me and worrying about the possible consequences to the rest of the flock.
I had only been saying recently what a lovely flock we have now and that I think it’s the best it has ever been. This has come as a shock and a huge blow. I keep getting tearful about this and yet I know in my heart of hearts that I don’t have a choice.