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THE POULTRY

What?

It is important to learn and understand the commitment, dedication, time and financial requirements needed to have pet quails, pet chickens or pet ducks in urban Singapore. 

 

The government allows each private residence to have a maximum of 10 poultry kept within a bird-proof enclosure with a roof [10]. 

 

Majority of Singaporeans may chose to keep pet quails, a pet bantam chicken or bantam duck breed due to our limited land area.

 

Be aware that the adorable chicks you adopted will eventually grow into either roosters or hens. A rooster will crow as early as 3am in the morning and then randomly throughout the day or when disturbed [3,7,8]

The ducks are very sociable animals and are not solitary by nature, so at least two of them must be kept to prevent loneliness, isolation, depression or grief. Leaving a duck alone or

caged all day is cruel and an emotional abuse. If you adopt ducklings, you will need to provide a waddling pool for them, some how, and keep them clean and odour free at the same time. Due to this aspect of their nature, it is even more difficult to keep ducks as a house pets or in an indoor setup[3].

 

It is also impossible to potty train a quail, a chicken or a duck, and their waste material can create a serious mess and produce smell that may be offensive to yourself and many neighbours in our closely populated environment [7].

With all these special circumstances, you will need to consider carefully if you and your family will out grow the poultry too quickly and become unwilling to continue to care for them.

 

The following are suggestions for pet poultry keeping in Singapore, not commercial or small scale poultry farming.

KEEP YOUR BABY POULTRY WARM AT ALL TIMES

Chicken eggs
Chick in hand
Light of Life Vet: Quail eggs laid in clinic

Above: Normally, you will not be able to hatch eggs purchased from supermarket to get baby poultry because they should not be fertilized. The female egg layers in egg farms should be kept separately from the males. A female poultry will lay about 1 egg every 22-30 hours (depending on the breed) with or without the presence of a male poultry.  Some farms can mix the genders up accidentally and allow some fertilized eggs to be created.

CARE FOR YOUNG BABY POULTRY

Care for Young Baby Poultry

The Fundamentals [7]

  • Buy a good quality Teflon-free heater fan or heating lamp.

  • Buy a good quality ambient thermometer.

  • Buy a good quality weighing scale with a resolution of 0.1gram.

  • The normal body temperature of chicks and ducklings should be about 39.5˚C - 39.7˚C.

  • Young baby poultry cannot regulate their body temperature well.

  • Heating lamp or fan can be used to maintain a correct ambient temperature in the enclosure at night (about 35˚C) [3,7,8].

  • Do not feed a cold baby poultry because their cold body cannot digest the food and may develop digestive issues [3].

  • Do not feed refrigerated food directly. Warm it up [3]

  • Always warm a baby poultry slowly before feeding any food.

 

  • You have to fulfill the role of the parent if you have adopted a very young baby poultry by feeding it regularly with properly prepared food or the baby poultry will not develop normally and may die abruptly.

  • Always sterilize all the equipment used for feeding, e.g., spoons and bowls.

  • There are no poultry vaccines available to the public in Singapore at this moment. [VERIFIED April 2019]

Multicolour chicks

EMERGENCY POULTRY FORMULA

*This formula is NOT for long term use. 

 

Buy a starter/ baby poultry food formula as soon as possible.

 

Any high protein cereal can be mashed into banana or vegetables as an emergency, short-term food for only one or two days.

 

All food must be fed at a room temperature.

All uneaten food should be discarded after 24 hours.

This guide estimates the amount of protein needed for an egg producing chicken at various lifestages. 

 

In general, baby pet poultry can be fed ab lid i.e., free flow.  The amount of food and frequency of feeding should be adjusted according to the resultant weight changes of the baby poultry. 

Always choose the correct pellet or crumble size that suits the baby poultry's mouth [7,8].

  • Is your pet terminally ill?
    Ask your attending vet for a frank prognosis. If yes, fast track to 5. If no, continue to 2.
  • Are you able to afford and manage the next phase of medical treatment and care?
    We definitely cannot put a price on love, but medical management is expensive and real. If yes, fast track to 6A. If no, fast track to 6B.
  • Is your pet still eating and drinking normally?
    A sharp decline in appetite can indicate the need for medical procedure, e.g. to insert a feeding tube for easier management. If yes, continue to 4. If no, back track to 2.
  • Does your pet have other persisting/chronic issues?
    For example: Chronic pain, Vomiting, Diarrhea, Dehydration, Weight loss, Incontinence, Unable to stand, Unable to walk, Labored breathing, Coughing, etc. If yes, back track to 2. If no, continue to 5.
  • Are the medical options to improve the condition or only to maintain his/her current condition?
    To improve - Back track to 2. To maintain only - Continue to 6. Artificially prolonging a non viable life may not be the best option.
  • What is the best option for your pet?
    A. Seek medical treatment and management. B. Choose euthanasia. It is vital to remember what your beloved pet has to undergo at this point of time, with or without the medical support.

DO NOT FEED COLD FOOD

FEED COMMERCIAL BABY POULTRY CRUMBLES

The correct or best baby poultry/ starter food is not easily available in local pet shops, unlike in many other countries. Most that are available may not be fresh or properly formulated for the life stages of your pet poultry.

 

Some commercial feed for non-water fowls can contain coccidiostats, anti-flagellates or anti-microbials to reduce sickness and promote rapid growth rate in poultry farms [3,7,8]. Please follow the recommended feeding schedules as indicated on the packs of the chosen food.

A variety of finely chopped vegetables, grind up grains and legumes should be added into their daily diet to improve their nutrient intake and prevent deficiency (refer to possible recipe listed below) [2,4,7]. An important aspect of feeding a very young baby poultry is the size of their food mix, it must be appropriate to the size of their beak [7,8]

 

The constant supply of fresh, clean water must be provided daily in a shallow dish filled with large pebbles. The pebbles in the dish prevent drowning [3,4,7]

Light of Life Vet: Home Mixed Poultry Formula

Above: Some suggested home mixed formulations for different groups of poultry in the US[2].  Table adapted from The Chicken Health Handbook. (Milo - Grain sorghum)

Light of Life Vet: Type of food tht can be fed to other species of poultry

Above: The minimum type of diets necessary for feeding specific flocks of poultry. Additional diets will be required for breeding flocks of chickens, turkeys and waterfowl [2]. Table and information adapted from Nutrition and Feeding of Organic Poultry.

Light of Life Vet: Poultry food fed in clinic 1

Above: Organic grains and legumes. Pic by LOLVet.

Light of Life Vet: Grounded poultry food fed in clinic

Above: Organic grains and legumes ground up with a coffee bean grinder for quails and chicks [7]. Pic by LOLVet.

Light of Life Vet: Mealworms fed organic wheatgrass for poultry

Above: Mealworms fed with wheatgrass. Pic by LOLVet.

Light of Life Vet: Organic Quinoa fed to poultry in the clinic

Above: Organic quinoa. Pic by LOLvet.

Light of Life Vet: Organic sorghum fed to poultry in the clinic

Above: Organic sorghum/milo and buckwheat. Pic by LOLvet.

Light of Life Vet: Chopped veg fed to poultry in the clinic

Above: Chopped vegetable and fruits. Pic by LOLvet.

To ensure that your baby poultry consume adequate protein, you may consider adding the following into their daily ration:

 

  • Cooked eggs - do not feed raw eggs as it may influence the poultry to damage their own eggs after laying in the future.

  • Mealworms, when properly cared for, contain about 50% protein

  • Fresh pumpkin seeds

  • Glutinous Millets

  • Parsley

  • Fish meat such as tuna and sardine

  • Molting food sold by pet stores for caged songbirds 

  • Sprouted grains and seeds, particularly alfalfa and sesame seeds (sprouting can improve protein quantity and quality)

Light of Life Vet: Food with fat soluble vitamins for poultry

Above: Supplement food that should be included in the diet of poultry to prevent deficiencies [2]. Table adapted from The Chicken Health Handbook.

RICE AND MOISTENED BREAD

ARE NOT BALANCED MEALS

FOR BABY POULTRY.

QUARANTINE [8]

What is quarantine?

To place a pet in an area isolated and separated from the main activity area, such that other animals have no access to it.

When the pet is under quarantine, the primary care taker must thoroughly clean and disinfect himself/herself before and after attending to that quarantined pet to prevent fomite transmission (refer to flow diagram below).

Why must we quarantine?

Since many avian diseases are airborne, it is vital to quarantine your new baby poultry from your other pets, including cats, dogs, and especially your other poultry, etc.

This will prevent any infectious diseases from passing between the baby poultry and your home pets.

For how long must the quarantine be?

We recommend a minimum quarantine period of 30 days from other pets (an ideal quarantine period would be 60 days).

During the quarantine period, the primary care taker must ensure that the baby poultry is putting on weight by weighing it every day, readily eats every meal, monitor if the mouth or stool smells sour, the urine amount is adequate, and if the baby poultry develops other conditions such as lethargy, diarrhea, refusing food, weight loss and to seek medical attention immediately.

 

If you had adopted your baby poultry locally from a Singapore trader, your baby poultry would have been imported from approved countries or hatched locally so they will be less likely to be infected with foreign and zoonotic diseases like Avian Flu or Fowl Pox.

 

However, there are other conditions such as, Campylobacteriosis, Coccidiosis, Escherichia coli (E. coli) and Salmonellosis, that are passable to humans that you should become aware of [11].

 

To protect yourselves, thoroughly wash your hands with running water and soap after contact with your poultry or their droppings.

Light of Life Vet: Quarantine area work flow

PROTECT YOUR BABY POULTRY AND KEEP OTHER ANIMALS AWAY

CARE FOR YOUNG ADULT POULTRY

Care for Young Adult Poultry
Light of Life Vet: Serama 6 months old
Light of Life Vet: Silky Chicken 4 months old
Light of Life Vet: Coturnix quail 7 months old

Serama (6 months old)

Silky (4 months old)

Coturnix quail (7 months old)

Ten things you should know:

FULL FEATHERED

The poultry are precocial which means they hatch with fluffs and are already quite independent [7,8]. Within a few hours, they are capable of a limited degree of self-care and are reliant on their parents for much less time than altricial birds like parrots.

 

However, you must not allow the young poultry to be confined with, roam or mingle with other animals, even other hens, roosters ducks or drakes, as they can get attacked and fatally injured [7,8].

Chicks less than one month old can be kept in a temperature controlled brooder (at about 35˚C) [8] if they are separated from their mother or are raised without their mother. Always monitor the chicks' behaviour to determine if the brooder's temperature is comfortable for the chicks - they should not be huddled together and chirping excessively (too cold) or spread around the edges of the brooder and panting (too hot) [3,8].

Older chicks at 1-2 months old can be maintained at room temperature in Singapore (average ambient temperature in the day 33˚C - 34˚C) but their enclosure should still be draft-free and covered with a big thick towel at night.

Light of Life Vet: Heat source effect in brooder

Above: Schematic drawing showing the position of chicks in a brooder based on the set temperature [8].

Pics from  Raising Chickens for Dummies, 2nd Edition.

WEIGH IN

 

Due to the prey nature of the poultry, many of them will hide their illnesses and pretend to be well, and owner may discover their abnormal condition only much later.

 

Weighing and recording the poultry's weight daily allows the owner to detect the earliest sign of inappetance, which is normally the first sign of illness.

 

FOOD, GRIT AND WATER

Always feed a commercially formulated pellets and crumbles from a reputable company [7,8].

 

We recommend that you continue to feed your baby or young poultry, at this stage, a variety of fresh vegetables, superfood, microgreens and fruits daily, in order to condition them to accept a healthy diet [8].

 

All fresh food should be thoroughly washed with running water [7,8].

Grit is eaten by the chicken regularly to help the gizzard's muscle grind down hard food like whole grains and fibrous vegetation during the digestive process [2,3,7,8].

There are 2 types of commercial grit available, mineral grits and inert grits.

 

Mineral grit with or without oyster shells, when consumed, serves as a time-release source of minerals and calcium, which supplies the laying hens with extra calcium to produce strong eggshells [2,7]. This form of grit should not be fed to young hens that are not nearing the age of lay or are not laying regularly and roosters, as excess calcium can interfere with bone development and also cause kidney damage [2]

Inert grit is made of granite grit or washed river sand, that is not readily ground up by the gizzard and can last a longer time. Grit fed to young chickens and mature roosters, should be inert, to avoid calcium overdose [2]

An average chicken can drink between 240 to 475mL of water per day, depending on its body weight, the ambient temperature, water palatability, food intake, feed ingredient and composition, condition of its overall health, and whether or not the chicken is laying [2].

Light of Life Vet: Finely grinded grit

Above: Finely grinded grit. Pic by LOLvet

Light of Life Vet: Coarse grit

Above: Coarse grit. Pic by LOLVet

Light of Life Vet: Super Food for poultry

UVA and UVB [6,8]

If you let your young poultry sleep indoors a lot, supplementing them with a UVA/UVB lighting for about at least 1 hours can help them grow faster and mature sooner, an also control their moulting and laying patterns.

 

Vitamin D3 is also produced by your poultry when exposed to UVB light, this will support skeletal development and egg

shell quality by assisting with calcium absorption from the food by their intestines.

 

Research with normal light and UVA light shows that the latter helps the poultry see better and thus eat better, reduces fear and improve welfare in general. 

 

Alternatively, commercial poultry diet should be fed as a staple part of their diet as it contains the correct amount of calcium and Vitamin D.

Light of Life Vet: UVBUVA light bulb

Above: Sample of an Avian UVB/UVA light bulb with 2.4% UVB and 12% UVA only. Pic by LOLVet.

HOUSING AND ISOLATION

It is important to prevent contact between your poultry and wild birds to avoid contamination and infection [2,4,5], and to abide by the Singapore regulation of pet poultry rearing [10]

 

All housing for your poultry must have a roof and properly enclosed in fine-wired 

mesh to prevent faecal material from these wild birds or animals from contaminating the poultry feed and water source [4,5,10].

 

Always clear away the food from their activity area at night to discourage pests, such as ants, cockroaches, lizards, rats or shrews from infesting your house [4,8].

 

Free ranging pet poultry is not approved in Singapore [10].

Angry Rooster

THE POOP AND THE DIAPER

Their poop smells extremely terrible because of the high ammonia content and can have salmonella or coccidia that are passable to humans [8].

 

They cannot be house-broken.

 

When you let them roam freely indoors, you may want to train them to wear a 

poultry diaper and change the lining at least every 2 hours.

 

Wipe their vent clean, and wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water every time after a diaper change to ensure optimum hygiene is maintained [8].

 

Always inspect the texture and consistency of their waste material to ensure that they are not coming down with an illness [7,8].

Light of Life Vet: Chicken wearing Diaper in the clinic
Flock poulty

SPACE AND NUMBERS [7]

Being in an urban context means that we do not have the luxury of meadows and fields to free-range our poultry, even if it was legal.

 

You should therefore keep this in mind when you adopt many chicks or ducklings or incubate and hatch you own poultry

eggs that you are able to manage them well once they are full grown adults. Like dogs, cats and parrots, they should not be confined to a small metal cage all their lives. They should be given enough space for mild to moderate exercises, activities and foraging. They should also have a safe, clean and spacious housing for sleeping at night.

ENTERTAINMENT [8]

Poultry is not always perceived as a very intelligent group of animals but research has shown that they are in fact, capable of complex cognitive, emotional, communicative and social behavior, and are very good at recognizing people.

 

Therefore, it is vital to provide foraging boxes, container and toys with scratch feed constantly, in order to keep your poultry's mind engaged, active, happy and healthy, and prevent cannibalism or bullying.

Edible entertainment created by some owners.

Freecycle. USA. (10/11/2014). Easy Backyard Chicken Coop Plans [Pinterest Post]. 

Retrieved March 8, 2019, from https://www.pinterest.com/pin/499899627372346484/

Light of Life Vet: Chicken toy pininterestt

DISEASES

It is vital that all birds brought into your premises are healthy and parasite free to ensure that you current pets remain healthy [4,5,6,7,8]

 

As much as you want to show off or exhibit your poultry to fellow poultry enthusiasts, access to your poultry should be restricted to limit disease transmission from other flocks to yours [5,6].

All new poultry that have been obtained/ adopted/bought should be examined by a qualified avian veterinarian before introduction into the flock. 

Finally, borrowing or sharing poultry supplies that allows fomite transmission should be absolutely avoided unless you can be 100% sure that your disinfection protocol is foolproof [5]

Common diseases that can be transmitted easily [4,5,11]

Escherichia coli

Coccidiosis

Mycoplasma

 

Other dieases of concern:

Avian Flu - Singapore is free from Avian Flu.

Click HERE for more information.

Light of Life Vet: AVS handout on Bird Flu

Above: AVS Inforgraphic on Avian Flu concerns. Accessed Jan 2020

NEIGHBOURS [7]

If your poultry is smelly, noisy or attracts too much attention, someone in your neighbourhood will and can complain against you to the authorities and request to have your poultry removed, even if you live on a private property.

 

It is absolutely vital for you, therefore, to keep up with the daily cleaning and plan the whole poultry affair carefully, to avoid such unnecessarily attention and trouble.

Chicken Lego man

CARE FOR AGEING ADULT POULTRY

Care for Ageing Poultry

The average lifespan of the coturnix quail is about 2-2.5 years, but some have said their pet quail lived to 6-8 years old.

 

The average lifespan of the duck is about 10 years, but many have lived to 20 years.

 

The average lifespan of the bantam chickens range from 5-7 years old, however, some are known to live for 12 years. The oldest living chicken was Matilda (right), owned by Keith and Donna Burton. She never laid an egg and lived the whole of her 16 year-life comfortably indoors.

Matilda_the_Performing_Chicken_(profile)

A CHAT WITH THE VET

By now, you should have established a very close working relationship with your regular avian veterinary clinic and team. Your biannual to annual veterinary check for your apparently healthy pet poultry should continue even if he/she appears perfectly healthy, as poultry being a prey animal will hide their discomfort during the early stages of many diseases. 

 

Remember, the accumulated bill for regular check ups is still cheaper than the treatment for any advanced, unmanaged and complicated disease that can cause death.

SPECIAL AIDS

Some senior poultry may need you to change your lifestyle in order to accommodate their aging physiological requirements.

 

For example, older poultry will find lower perches more user-friendly or require ramps to reach these perches, nest boxes, dust bath, coops or get in and out of waddling pools due to their aging physiology or arthritis or gout.

They may need more frequent feeding with smaller amount of food or a different type of food to maintain healthier digestion (switching to grower feed, which has less calcium and more protein, from layer feed). Increase the amount of superfood and microgreens in their diet so they can benefit from a higher level of antioxidants, vitamins and trace elements. You have to ensure that food and water containers are

easily accessible without the need for them to travel too far.

You should check their feet and trim their nails frequently as they can develop uncomfortable dry and swollen feet and have long overgrown nails due to reduce activity, arthritis and aging.

 

Preening can become difficult for older poultry and regular showers may be warranted.  Their feathers may need to be blown dry (on a low heat) after shower to avoid lowering their body temperature for a long time and they may need longer period of UV light exposure.

 

If they are wearing diapers, ensure that they are changed and cleaned at least every hour to prevent infection in the vent.

 

QUIET TIME

Spending quiet, quality and exclusive time with your older poultry is the most important aspect of loving him/her. 

 

Your senior pet can already feel more secure, draw strength and comfort from just sitting or resting beside you on the bed and probably maintain a better cognitive connection with his/her surrounding and people with such interactions.

 

Due to their slower reaction and movement, compared to when they were younger, you have to ensure that other pets in your household cannot cause them any harm due to rough play or predatory instinct while they rest or take a nap, and separate them permanently if there is any doubt.

Duck

CLOSE WATCH

Monitor your poultry daily and seek medical attention immediately if they appear abnormal. The poultry's general health can be assess using the following list [2]:

Light of Life Vet: Signs of health and illness in poultry, chicken, ducks, quails

Above: Reference chart adapted from The Chicken Health Handbook.

ANNUAL GERIATRIC PROTOCOL

This should include:

 

  • Physical check

  • Complete blood count

  • Blood chemistries

  • Oral cavity examination

  • Mobility and weight bearing analysis

  • Feather examination

  • Faecal examination 

  • X-ray

Light of Life Vet: Good and normal chicken poop

Above:  A sample of an ideal chicken poop. It is important to monitor the chickens' poop daily to determine their health condition [7].  Pic by LOLVet

GENERAL DIAGNOSTIC TESTS TO CONSIDER

  • Direct microscopic analysis of feathers - identification of feather mites/ lice

  • Faecalysis (Direct microscopy) - intestinal worms, parasites and bacteria.

  • Faecal culture

Egg workers

Attribution:

1. Blair, R. (2008). Nutrition and Feeding of Organic Poultry. UK: CABI

.

2. Damerow, G. (2016). The Chicken Health Handbook, 2nd Ed. USA: Storey.

3. Drowns G. (2012). Storey’s Guide to Raising Poultry. USA: Storey.

4. Greenacre,C.B.,Morishita,T.Y. (2015). Backyard Poultry Medicine and Surgery. A guide for Veterinary Practitioners. UK: Wiley-Blackwell

5. Nelson, N. (2010). Chicken Diseases Help. A Guidebook on Chicken in Sickness and Health. USA: Nelson

6. Pattison,M., Mcmullin,P.E., Bradbury,J.M., Alexander,D.J. (2008). Poultry Diseases, 6th Ed. UK: Elsevier.

7. Peacock, P. (2009). The Urban Hen. A Practical Guide to Keeping Poultry in a Town or City. UK: Spring Hill.

8. Willis, K., Ludlow, R. (2015). Raising Chickens for Dummies, 2nd Edition. US: Wiley.

9. Biosecurity for Pet Birds. http://www.aphis.usda.gov/animal_health/birdbiosecurity/biosecurity/petbirds.htm. [Accessed 25/4/2019]

10. AVS

11. Sing, A. (2015). Zoonoses- Infections Affecting Humans and Animals. Focus on Public Health Aspects. USA: Springer

Address

LOCATION

Blk 703 Bedok Reservoir Road 

#01-3508 Singapore 470703

 

CONTACT

Tel: 6243 3282 

(By Appointment Only)

Email: lightoflifevet@live.com.sg

 

OPERATING HOURS

MON & WED & SUN

5 pm to 10 pm

THURS TO SAT

2 pm to 4 pm, 5 pm to 10 pm

CLOSED TUES

& ALL PUBLIC HOLIDAYS

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