Over time, the zoo has lost many of their chickens to age. It is incredibly difficult for them to replenish their flocks, due to quarantine restrictions mandated by the zoo. Fear of introducing disease to their numerous species of birds, requires that the chicken are housed away from other avian species for 30 days. Their best alternative is to incubate eggs. This way, they can be certain that outside pathogens are not introduced.
They have a large barn, approximately 30'x15'. This is their coop. Inside, it partitioned off into three sections. Each section has it's own roosts, feeder, waterer along with four nesting boxes. These sections house three varieties of chickens seperate from one another. The floor of the coop and run are cement. These are hosed down daily. In addition, the pine shavings that are spread in the nesting boxes and on the coop's floor are also changed daily. Biosecurity is a top priority around here. Visitors are encouraged to view the chickens through the chicken wire.
Currently, the zoo is down to two sets of bantam chickens, two roosters and two hens. I was lucky enough to meet them. They were quite cute to say the least, especially when the roosters both crowed as I got close to their girls. The zoo hopes to increase their chicken population come next Spring. It was very interesting to see how chickens live at the zoo and have been incorporated into this controlled setting. The only thing that I felt badly about was the fact that they did not have access to a good old fashioned dirty dust bath!
Photo Credits: Tilly's Nest