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Managing a meat and egg flock - Page 2

post #11 of 14

Being as you are going with dual purpose birds, there is a very good chance that you will get a broody hen, even if you don't have a rooster. Go ahead and let her pretend to sit on golf balls if you want, or get some fertilized eggs. If you do the golf balls, you can order chicks to come in at about 21 days (does not have to be exact) and slip them under her at night, and in the morning, she will protect them from the flock. The chicks raised up in the flock will need no integration, and very little work for you. There is nothing as darling as a hen with chicks. Do be aware, that some might not make it, but the ones that do are vigorous. Get more or hatch more that your final wanted count, and then cull back to that. That too, is a life lesson for children.

 

A couple of hideouts in a the run are also a benefit. Last summer, I just laid a pallet on 4 cement blocks. The chicks could easily run under there, and while a chicken could get under there, it was a tight fit, and they pretty much didn't. This allows a place for the chicks to escape to, when they have been driving the elders crazy, and the older ones get cranky. For the most part, chicks raised in the flock are tolerated, and within two weeks, I have seen them darting under laying hens legs to eat, but  I often put food under that pallet just to make sure the chicks were getting enough.

 

As for numbers, you can cheat in the summer. Chicks are little and take up little space, the days are long and the birds spend most of the time out of doors. Generally peoples runs are bigger than their coops. In the coop, lay a 12 in wide board across part of the roosts, and the broody hen will generally have her chicks roosting with the flock by week 4. Before that, mine have always created a nest on the floor. I tend to let broody hens do their thing where they want to, as she knows more about being a chicken than I do. But come the fall, the chicks are getting bigger, and then your count needs to be more close, and one should err on the side of the smaller flock.

 

As for me, my flock numbers swell and recede. And with all my careful plans, many times I have had the wrong ones die, either from predators (mostly) and twice, just dead! Be flexible, there is an old saying, "don't count your chickens until they hatch", well often times, you just can't count on your chickens to do the plan.

 

Note: if you hatch fertilized eggs, part of them will be roosters. IMHO - you need a separate bachelor's pad, that will allow them to grow up to eating size. 

 

Good luck, it is a marvelous hobby.

 

Mrs K


Edited by Mrs. K - 3/23/16 at 8:59am
Western South Dakota Rancher
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Western South Dakota Rancher
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post #12 of 14

Thanks for the response, we've got a better idea of what you're looking at now :)

 

I agree with the above posters. Lots of folks keep a rotating flock like you're mentioning. Some butcher the older hens, some sell them off, either way the flock management is about the same. You're introducing a new batch each spring, and that's the gist of things. 

 

In my experience, integration isn't that huge a deal. Especially when bringing in a  batch of younger birds to a batch of older birds. That makes it two groups meeting and there's not usually much "personal" issues. As above, lots of space and hiding places for the littles and things usually go okay. 

 

the biggest integration issues are bringing a single adult bird into an established flock of adults. That can cause lots of one on one issues, but that's not what you're doing so no worries there. Bringing littles into mature birds, the littles are pests and punks that need manners sometimes, but the mature birds don't look at them as threats to their own social standing. 

 

Build your coop large, a walk-in type that can be divided would be ideal. Be flexible with your plans, animals don't always read our notes and follow our plans so we need to be ready to change things if needed. And enjoy your birds!

Rachel BB

Stem cell transplant from unrelated donor in Feb 2015. Thank you to all my friends here on BYC for all your support during my treatment and ongoing recovery!

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Rachel BB

Stem cell transplant from unrelated donor in Feb 2015. Thank you to all my friends here on BYC for all your support during my treatment and ongoing recovery!

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post #13 of 14
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all the info everyone. You all gave a lot of good info and I appreciate it. If anyone else has some personal experience please post. I will reference this post as this new endeavor unfolds.

There is so much information to consider here that I think my solution is trial by fire while incorporating tried and true methods. I think I will have to get my feet wet to learn.
post #14 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by ammocan View Post

Thanks for all the info everyone. You all gave a lot of good info and I appreciate it. If anyone else has some personal experience please post. I will reference this post as this new endeavor unfolds.

There is so much information to consider here that I think my solution is trial by fire while incorporating tried and true methods. I think I will have to get my feet wet to learn.

You will. It takes hands on experience to figure out what works best for you and your situation. 

Great article on VENTILATION, one of THE MOST IMPORTANT aspects of coop design.

Fantastic treatise to help decide how much SPACE your chickens need.

 

Chicken math is not just 'addition'...but also should include Division, Multiplication and especially Subtraction!!!

 

Quoting centrarchid:

"Make every effort to understand your chicken's biology and the environment that supports it."

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Great article on VENTILATION, one of THE MOST IMPORTANT aspects of coop design.

Fantastic treatise to help decide how much SPACE your chickens need.

 

Chicken math is not just 'addition'...but also should include Division, Multiplication and especially Subtraction!!!

 

Quoting centrarchid:

"Make every effort to understand your chicken's biology and the environment that supports it."

Reply
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