Originally Posted by PipelineGypsy
Good morning everyone,
Currently I have 11 hens and 2 roosters. All of them are 10 month old RIRs. I am planning on getting some new chicks very soon. I am wanting more of a variety and I want some brood hens. I'm thinking about 2-3 each of: Ameraucanas, Buff Orpingtons, Cochins, Marans, and Wyandottes. Any foreseeable problems with those breeds and my RIRs? I am planning on building a brooder inside of my existing coop (plenty of room for it) to house the chicks until they are old enough to join the flock (12 weeks?), essentially using an extended version of the "playpen method". First, I would like to know if anyone sees any possible problems with my plan? I would like to have one rooster of each breed, but I know that is way too many roosters. How many is too many? I am also wondering about feeding. Considering they will be on different foods for a short while after I let the chicks join the flock, how should I separate the feed so that they only eat what they are suppose to? I have a hanging 40lb feeder that I use now for the layer feed. Would it be ok to let them just start eating the layer feed a few weeks early? I will appreciate all advice!
Before making your final breed selection, I suggest that you look at the "sex linked information" thread. It has some neat charts in the first post that just may tickle your fancy. You can choose breeds to add to your flock that will give you Black or Red sex-linked chicks. As far as roosters covering hens, my avatar roo, very successfully covered 16 hens last breeding season with close to 100 fertility, so far as I could tell. It was very rare for me to open an egg that wasn't fertile. Excellent hatch rates! I don't think I'd consider adding a second rooster until flock size is over 20 hens. Even with that being said, I expect my roo will easily cover his 24 hens this season! As far as feed goes, you could switch your entire flock to un-medicated chick starter, and provide oyster shell for the layers. Many folks keep their flocks on Multi-flock all the time, so they don't have to mess with different requirements for chicks and hens. Finally, I like your brooding plan. Are you going to use the heating pad cave method? I highly recommend it. Those of us who've used it swear we'll never go back to a heat lamp brooder again! I'd suggest that you wait till the chicks are 2 - 3 weeks old, and then adjust their brooder so they can get out, but the hens can't get in. (give them a small door opening.) Conventional "they say" wisdom says to wait till the chicks are 10 - 12 weeks old so they can better defend themselves from the old biddies. Those of us who've played with earlier integration are finding that it goes much easier if it is done at a much earlier age, before the chicks are perceived as a pecking order threat. When you start this process, of course you'll have to supervise at first, and start slowly, to be sure the babies know how to get back into their safe space when they need to.