Well, thanks for saying so, that's a lot coming from someone I have learned so much from! Robin is a jewel too! Illness... I have not had much experience with illnesses that are serious fortunately, if there was something that put my other birds in danger I would cull too. I think I've nursed them through more extreme weakness than communicable diseases. Vets generally don't know much about birds at all, and those that do usually know more about parrots and such than chickens. I'm really lucky that we have a vet here that has chickens and knows them inside and out literally. She's done things for me that I know would cost a fortune elsewhere and only charged me an office visit. Partly because she knows how hard it is to afford things like that, partly because she loves people that love their chickens, and partly because I am more help than a tech in those cases. And when she had to do some fancy stitch work for me one time she didn't charge because she knew I'd take the stitches out and be fine with it- so no return visit. I tried two other vets over the years and it was horrible. It's a hard call to make if you want to try it or not. I do tend to believe that the more you handle on your own, the better for all involved. I have to be pretty stumped to do otherwise. Also, it's hard for those of us transitioning from keeping dogs & cats as pets to chickens. It's hard to come to grips with the fact that it's just different even though you love them very much. I think some lessons are expensive. Well, just about every lesson I've learned has been expensive, so maybe it's just me! But now after eight years of keeping chickens I approach things differently. For me I keep small numbers because they are pets and I don't cull older hens that don't lay much, they get to retire, so I have to go easy on chicks in the spring according to how many birds of a certain age I can afford. But I panic less and don't feel like a bad pet owner for making tough choices. I now think it's actually more stressful with very little chance of success in taking them to the vet for many things. I did take a hen who inverted herself with an egg still twisted inside to the vet because I couldn't even begin to figure out how to fix that, and once she was put back together she was right as rain and a great layer. If she'd been weak when I found her though I'd not have done that. But live and learn, right?