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Beginner General Question

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 

I'm brand new to chickens and in the process of building a coop - no hens yet but planning and learning. The priorities are eggs, manure, and meat in that order. I've read hens are productive at laying eggs for about three years and so after that I'm planning to butcher them and of course get new birds. At first I was thinking to get new chicks at about the 2 1/2 year mark so they'll be ready to take the old hens' places when the mature birds have served their purpose, but I'll only have the one coop (8'X8') w/20'X8' run and I've been reading a few threads on here where people have had bad experiences mixing young and old birds. So my question is, do you normally butcher the mature birds before adding any new birds to the coop, and then do so all at once, or can you add pullets a few at a time? I'm guessing like most things it depends on individual birds' temperament, but I'm hoping to keep this as simple as possible and if it's easier to replace the entire flock at once I'll do it that way. The hens I'm planning to get are Dominiques and Barred Rocks if that matters. I've read RIR's tend to be somewhat aggressive toward younger birds so I'd probably want to stay away from them. Any info would be appreciated.

 

Thanks, Gene

post #2 of 5

I keep my main flock in a 10ft camper that was given to me.  I tried adding young birds but they really got bullied badly, even when I followed everyone's instructions to integrate them.  Go to my "Stupid Questions" thread and you will find pictures of temporary coops that I built out of pallets.  I keep them there now until they start to lay and then I kill off my old flock all at once.  The down side is that you have to put up with small eggs for a while.

 

I am sure you will get different opionions but I hate to see hurt chickens and some of mine have been particularly cruel to certain new members I tried to integrate....one of them had half his scalp picked off.

 

Depending where you live you can even keep them in an appliance box for a while.  During the summer, when I didn't have room in my pallet coops, I put my month old chicks in a refrigerator box.  I opened the top flap of the box and covered it with a square of chicken wire.  I cut a little door in the bottom of one of the sides and I surrounded the box with a dog's ex-pen.  Google "ex-pens for dogs" and you will see what I mean.  I covered everything with a net but if you clip one of their wings you won't need to. (There might be a picture of the fridgebox in my Stupid Questions thread.)   I would move the refrigerator box every few days, so that their poop didn't build up.  This worked so well that some lived in there until I sold them as laying hens.  If you have a predator problem you will want to keep the bottom in the box.  I did that too to start with and I would cut squares of cardboard to lay down on the floor to give them a clean surface every few days.

post #3 of 5


In your situation, i personally would opt for a total cull and then get new birds. As well as avoiding the integration issue, you will also have the opportunity to disinfect the coop and run completely, thus making illnesses less likely.

 

CT

Nairobi, Kenya
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Nairobi, Kenya
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post #4 of 5
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the input IceAngel and CTKen - much appreciated. Yeah I definitely like the idea of culling all at one time. Definitely makes things simpler. Plus like you said Ken, I can give the coop and run a really good cleaning and disinfecting while waiting to put the new pullets in there. And heck, if I really get bird fever bad I can always build a second coop and run. I'm really looking forward to getting everything up and running.

 

Thanks again, Gene

post #5 of 5
Quote:
Originally Posted by ejcrist View Post

Thanks for the input IceAngel and CTKen - much appreciated. Yeah I definitely like the idea of culling all at one time. Definitely makes things simpler. Plus like you said Ken, I can give the coop and run a really good cleaning and disinfecting while waiting to put the new pullets in there. And heck, if I really get bird fever bad I can always build a second coop and run. I'm really looking forward to getting everything up and running.

Thanks again, Gene
Depending how you are making the coop you could plan another door to be able to section it off and a temp way to section off part of the run also. Just a thought

I agree the most with culling them all at once and sanitizing though. Also the when you change things it could cause the hens to stop laying. Another thing is when you change the flock you upset the pecking order. So you would cause more fighting when you add the chicks then again when you remove the older birds.
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