adding chickens--is young better?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by the_damsel, Feb 17, 2012.

  1. the_damsel

    the_damsel Out Of The Brooder

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    I've been trying to read up on adding chickens to my "flock" and haven't seen exactly what I'm looking for.

    I put "flock" in quotations because I have only 4...3 barred rock and 1 dominique that were raised together, all hens. Is just 4 a flock? lol... They will be a year old April 1. I've loved them...great layers, and have seemed to tolerate Utah winters pretty well. I haven't noticed any fighting or even much of a pecking order. Good girls!

    In my area, I'm allowed to have 6 total, so I'd like to add two more.

    I've heard that RIR's do well in my area, cold resistant and good layers. That's sort of my criteria, I guess. Does it matter if I add a different breed? I wouldn't mind getting more of what I have since they've been so good, but I thought it might be "fun" to have some different ones.

    I've read about folks just plopping them in, and others who have them in a run next to the others to get used to each other through the chicken wire, and others who put the chicken on the roost at night so they wake up together. Are there less issues when there isn't a rooster?

    At the moment I don't have a run, just a fenced yard. We're planning a run later this year. Should I wait till I have the run in place before getting the 2 new ladies?

    Would it be easier or worse if I get pullets vs. 1 year olds? Pros and cons?

    Thanks so much.
     
  2. beefmaster

    beefmaster Out Of The Brooder

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    you can add new hens to your flock at nite.when the hens are roosting.as for the age of the new 1s id want them 5 to 6 months old.maybe then they wont get beat up so bad.
     
  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    I've heard that RIR's do well in my area, cold resistant and good layers. That's sort of my criteria, I guess. Does it matter if I add a different breed? I wouldn't mind getting more of what I have since they've been so good, but I thought it might be "fun" to have some different ones.

    Pure personal preference. You may get a lot of different opinions on this, and they will almost certainly all be different.

    I've read about folks just plopping them in, and others who have them in a run next to the others to get used to each other through the chicken wire, and others who put the chicken on the roost at night so they wake up together.

    This answer will get a bit long. I’ll apologize in advance. Since you don’t have a rooster, you have two different kinds of aggression to look for. One is purely integration. Chickens are flock animals. They recognize which chickens are in their flock and which are outsiders. Sometimes they openly welcome any new chicken into their family. Sometimes they try to run off strangers. This is where housing them next to each other can come in handy. They tend to recognize each other’s right to exist without fighting about it. Sometimes this part goes so smoothly you wonder what all the fuss was about, whether they are housed next to each other or not. Sometimes it gets messy, even if they were housed next to each other.

    The other type of aggression is pecking order. Like a herd of cattle or a pack of wolves, each chicken needs to know where it stands socially in its social group. Chickens establish this by pecking. If a social inferior enters the personal space of a superior, the superior has the right to peck it. If the inferior runs away, all is well and good. Intimidation worked. If the inferior does not run away, it is considered a challenge to the current pecking order and they fight to determine which is the superior. Usually it does not take long for them to decide which is socially superior and it quickly evolves into running away. But occasionally one can get hurt in the fight.

    I don’t know if putting them on the roosts at night helps or not. They still have to sort out the pecking order issues, but maybe it helps with the basic integration. I really don’t know. I don’t do it that way, but I raise mine in a brooder in the coop from Day 1 so they are used to each other. I sometimes think the big advantage is that they sort things out before the human gets involved. A lot of people that try this really believe in it, but occasionally you see a post where someone tried it and it was a disaster. I really think the main thing is that they have enough room so the can run away if they want to.

    Are there less issues when there isn't a rooster?

    Sometimes having a rooster helps, but not always. Each chicken is an individual. It’s really hard to say what they will do, just what they might do. A good rooster keeps order in his flock. If his girls start fighting, he breaks up the fight. But not all roosters are good in every aspect. Most roosters will accept new hens into his flock immediately and help them fit in. Some roosters do not accept new hens as members of his flock and try to run them away. I find a rooster usually helps, but not always.

    Should I wait till I have the run in place before getting the 2 new ladies?

    I would. When you get them, you sometimes need to keep them locked in for a few days so they accept the new place as home. If you just drop them in and mix them with your flock, they might stick around, but if you have the run in place you can lock them up if you need to. It gives you flexibility.

    Would it be easier or worse if I get pullets vs. 1 year olds? Pros and cons?

    One issue with this is that mature chickens outrank immature chickens in the pecking order. There is no set age when chickens switch from immature to mature. I’ve seen some 6 month olds that were still pretty immature. It is not tied to when they start laying as much as you might think, though that seems to enter into it some. Chicken social life can get pretty complicated.

    Mature chickens will often peck any immature chicken that comes within range. Immature chickens quickly learn to keep as much distance as possible between themselves and the mature hens. That’s why it often looks like you have two different flocks, though they will eventually mingle. When you do get the two new ones put out an extra feeding and watering station to minimize possible conflicts.

    We do this both ways successfully all the time. I don’t know what your plans are for them when they cut back laying as they age. If you are going to keep them forever as pets and not replace them, I’d suggest the new ones be pullets to get eggs a little longer. If you plan on replacing them, it probably does not matter.

    A very longwinded response, I know. I hope the main thing you take from this is that we all do it a lot of different ways, we do it a lot, and it usually works out. And that there is no real right way or wrong way, just the way that works for you.
     
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  4. the_damsel

    the_damsel Out Of The Brooder

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    Wow, thanks for such a great answer. You've given me a lot of great information. I welcome other opinions and advice. BYC rocks!
     
  5. 7L Farm

    7L Farm Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I'm not big on integrating new chickens into my existing flock.I start a whole new flock. I did make the mistake of integrating one Dom hen to 10 red hens & one red roo. This poor girl went through total heelllllll. The roo protected her. Every evening after free ranging the flock would go back to the coop to roost. Except the Dom. The dom would hide in the woods right by the coop. The roo would make sure all the red hens were on the roost then he would go & get the Dom & bring her into the coop to roost with the others. It was quite a sight to watch him perform this task to say the least. The roo fell head over heals for the Dom .
    Well, after over a year alot has changed in this coop. I had to kill the roo he got down right mean & wanted to attack me. After, his disapperance the flock is still together & the Dom still lives with them & is accepted but they still chase her some but never hurt her because she will run from them. Come roost time she will snuggle up with them & go to bed.
    I should of videoed the roo helping the Dom it was a sight to see.
    I live on a farm so I have plenty of space. I build a new coop & hatch from my existing flock & put them in the new coop & roll on.I always need more eggs & more coops.
     

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