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Starting a mixed breed flock in Ontario, Canada

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
Hello! Would love advice and your thoughts!

We're looking to pick up our first chickens in a few days. We're planning on starting our flock with 6 (for now). I'd love a mixed flock. We're in Canada, and need to have cold weather hardy birds. I also have young children and was researching breeds that are more friendly. The breeds I'm looking at are; Sussex, Brahmas, Cochins, Easter Eggers, Orpingtons & Wyandotte. I know this a bit of a long list, but we are going to a livestock fair/sale this weekend where there will be loads of breeders. You don't know until you get there what they will have, so need to have a few options. We're looking at only getting bantams that can be out in the coop right away with no heat. It's still cold here at nights.

I'd love to know if the birds I'm thinking of will get along well together? And is it terrible to have 1 of this, 2 of that ect? In terms of them living together ok? Each type of chicken will likely be from a different breeder, but we will be able to handle them before deciding to buy (see their temperament somewhat?) I'm concerned about putting 6 strange chickens together and having them just tear each other apart. 😱
post #2 of 8
Thread Starter 
Oops! Not bantams! Pullets! 🙈 We're looking to bring home pullets. Not looking at bantams at all.
post #3 of 8
You have a great wishlist of hens. No reason they can't all get along but individual personalities always plays into it. The biggest problem with your plan is biosecurity and the health of the flock. Buying mature birds from multiple sources is asking for trouble.
post #4 of 8
I have Buff Orpingtons, Light and Dark Brahma's, and Wyandottes. I had 2 of each, but did lose an Orpington and later one of my Light Brahma's. They did tag along, but they will do fine without a mate that is like them. smile.png They Orps are very friendly and docile as is the Wyandotte. Well, one of my Wyandotte was skittish, and the other you can pet her like a dog. Same with my Light Brahma's. My dark Brahma's want nothing to do with me. 😆 Enjoy your new flock and good luck to you!

I have a wonderful loving family, so that means my chickens get alot of love from us-well from me & my son mostly, but I like to pretend my husband loves it too! 1 collie dog,3 cats, 4 Leghorns, 1 OEGB rooster, 7-Gold Comets,2 Dekalb Amberlinks, 2 Buff Brahma's, 1 Light Brahma's, 4 Naked Necks, 2 Col. Rock Cross, 1 Silver Laced Wyandotte hens, 2 Silikes, and more breeds on the way! .

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I have a wonderful loving family, so that means my chickens get alot of love from us-well from me & my son mostly, but I like to pretend my husband loves it too! 1 collie dog,3 cats, 4 Leghorns, 1 OEGB rooster, 7-Gold Comets,2 Dekalb Amberlinks, 2 Buff Brahma's, 1 Light Brahma's, 4 Naked Necks, 2 Col. Rock Cross, 1 Silver Laced Wyandotte hens, 2 Silikes, and more breeds on the way! .

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post #5 of 8
You have a lot of issues there but your breeds should be fine. Don’t worry about having different breeds. A lot of us do that. Those breeds sound fine to me. You can find horror stories about any breed, each chicken is an individual and has its own personality, but the odds of them getting along great are really good.

Mixing breeds from a sale like that I’d often suggest a quarantine but with all those chickens coming from different sources, with you not having a flock at home, and them all going through the same sale and probably already exposed to anything there I don’t think it’s worth even considering for you. Don’t over-stress about it. Most chickens brought home from sales are fine anyway. Just check them for mites and lice.

Try to get them all about the same age. Don’t get anal over this, be reasonable, but a more mature chicken will be dominant over a less mature chicken. Size really doesn’t have much to do with it, maturity does. The closer in age they are the sooner they will become one flock.

I don’t know what your facilities look like or how big they are. When you put six strange chickens together to form a new flock, they will sort out pecking order and flock dominance. Sometimes that goes so smoothly you wonder what all the worry was about, sometimes it gets really messy. Most of the suggestions on this forum involve adding a group of chickens to an existing flock. You don’t have that. Not only do you have a group of pullets that have not settled dominance issues, they do not think of your coop as home. If you just turn them loose they may go for a hike and not return.

The bigger your facilities the better. By facilities I mean all space available to them, probably coop plus run. Hopefully you have both and they are decent size. Normally you want to lock the new chickens in the coop for a few days so they get used to it as home. I’m going to suggest differently. When you get them home, immediately let them loose in your coop plus run. Give them the maximum space you can without them running away. Put out a few feeding and watering stations in the coop and in the run so they can eat and drink without challenging each other. Watch them to see if there are any injuries and especially blood drawn. As long as you don’t see blood, let them fight if they choose. There will likely be a few skirmishes but the fights should not last that long before one decides to run away. That’s where the room comes in, they need enough room to run away and get away, even with some chasing. That’s how chickens usually do it, if there is conflict the weaker runs away from the stronger and avoids them. I know I’m repeating myself but they need all the room they can get.

The first night who knows where they will try to put themselves to bed. After it is dark, put them all in the coop. Some people may suggest putting them on the roosts but I don’t worry about that, the coop floor works fine. They will figure it out. Keep that coop as dark as you can. Do not put any lights in there. You may need to cover a window if you have security lights or something like that.

The next morning be out there before they wake up at sunrise and open the pop door. Give them a chance to run away if there is a conflict.

Keep doing this until they are putting themselves to bed in the coop on their own and you are comfortable there will not be a disaster if you are late letting them out in the morning. With all pullets or even with just one male in the flock this should not take that long, especially if they are fairly close together in age. If there is a big age difference this process may go on a bit longer. When I integrate, my younger birds are usually on the roosts in the morning when I go down there to let them out. They are avoiding the older birds. Chickens have been working this kind of stuff out for thousands of years. You are throwing in a twist, mixing six strangers, but the basics are the same. They are individuals, you may have rotten luck and just get a brute, but as long as you don’t have tiny facilities I don’t expect you to have any serious issues.

Good luck!

 I grow a little impatient when people seem to think that they are unique in the world. Of course they are. Just like everyone else.

 

"If you make every game a life-and-death proposition, you're going to have problems. For one thing, you'll be dead a lot." — former North Carolina coach Dean Smith

 

http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/how-much-room-do-chickens-need

Reply

 I grow a little impatient when people seem to think that they are unique in the world. Of course they are. Just like everyone else.

 

"If you make every game a life-and-death proposition, you're going to have problems. For one thing, you'll be dead a lot." — former North Carolina coach Dean Smith

 

http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/how-much-room-do-chickens-need

Reply
post #6 of 8
Thread Starter 
Thank you all for your advice! I really appreciate it. Glad to hear that my idea of mixing the different breeds is no issue, even without a "buddy".
post #7 of 8
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ridgerunner View Post

You have a lot of issues there but your breeds should be fine. Don’t worry about having different breeds. A lot of us do that. Those breeds sound fine to me. You can find horror stories about any breed, each chicken is an individual and has its own personality, but the odds of them getting along great are really good.

Mixing breeds from a sale like that I’d often suggest a quarantine but with all those chickens coming from different sources, with you not having a flock at home, and them all going through the same sale and probably already exposed to anything there I don’t think it’s worth even considering for you. Don’t over-stress about it. Most chickens brought home from sales are fine anyway. Just check them for mites and lice.

Try to get them all about the same age. Don’t get anal over this, be reasonable, but a more mature chicken will be dominant over a less mature chicken. Size really doesn’t have much to do with it, maturity does. The closer in age they are the sooner they will become one flock.

I don’t know what your facilities look like or how big they are. When you put six strange chickens together to form a new flock, they will sort out pecking order and flock dominance. Sometimes that goes so smoothly you wonder what all the worry was about, sometimes it gets really messy. Most of the suggestions on this forum involve adding a group of chickens to an existing flock. You don’t have that. Not only do you have a group of pullets that have not settled dominance issues, they do not think of your coop as home. If you just turn them loose they may go for a hike and not return.

The bigger your facilities the better. By facilities I mean all space available to them, probably coop plus run. Hopefully you have both and they are decent size. Normally you want to lock the new chickens in the coop for a few days so they get used to it as home. I’m going to suggest differently. When you get them home, immediately let them loose in your coop plus run. Give them the maximum space you can without them running away. Put out a few feeding and watering stations in the coop and in the run so they can eat and drink without challenging each other. Watch them to see if there are any injuries and especially blood drawn. As long as you don’t see blood, let them fight if they choose. There will likely be a few skirmishes but the fights should not last that long before one decides to run away. That’s where the room comes in, they need enough room to run away and get away, even with some chasing. That’s how chickens usually do it, if there is conflict the weaker runs away from the stronger and avoids them. I know I’m repeating myself but they need all the room they can get.

The first night who knows where they will try to put themselves to bed. After it is dark, put them all in the coop. Some people may suggest putting them on the roosts but I don’t worry about that, the coop floor works fine. They will figure it out. Keep that coop as dark as you can. Do not put any lights in there. You may need to cover a window if you have security lights or something like that.

The next morning be out there before they wake up at sunrise and open the pop door. Give them a chance to run away if there is a conflict.

Keep doing this until they are putting themselves to bed in the coop on their own and you are comfortable there will not be a disaster if you are late letting them out in the morning. With all pullets or even with just one male in the flock this should not take that long, especially if they are fairly close together in age. If there is a big age difference this process may go on a bit longer. When I integrate, my younger birds are usually on the roosts in the morning when I go down there to let them out. They are avoiding the older birds. Chickens have been working this kind of stuff out for thousands of years. You are throwing in a twist, mixing six strangers, but the basics are the same. They are individuals, you may have rotten luck and just get a brute, but as long as you don’t have tiny facilities I don’t expect you to have any serious issues.

Good luck!

Thank you for such a detailed response! Your advice is really appreciated. I can really see where you are coming from with making sure they have enough room. We have a 4x6 coop, the nesting boxes are jutted out the side, so the floor space itself is actually 4x6. The run is about 110 square feet, and from what I read, that should be plenty for 6 chickens I hope? I'll make sure to have water and food in the run as well as the coop.

We will be free ranging, but not until a week or two after the chickens are settled.
post #8 of 8
Thread Starter 


This is a pic of our coop while we were building it. Nesting boxes are jutting out the back. It's just about completed now, but this gives you an idea of size and set up. There's about 6 inches of sand across the bottom of the run now.
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