Adding new birds to an existing flock...

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Rebecca Thomas, Feb 8, 2018.

  1. Rebecca Thomas

    Rebecca Thomas In the Brooder

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    Hello!

    I just started my first flock last spring. Everything has gone basically well and I would like to add new birds to my flock this year. Its baby time! :)

    Right now, I have three buff orpingtons, two speckled sussex, and one ameracauna, all of which are pretty good chickens. The buffs are by far the sweetest, and the head hen is one of those. The speckled are friendly, but more reserved. The Ameracauna is crazy. Runs away. Total Looney. :) They are all about a year old. Great egg production thus far.

    So now I would like to get six new chicks to eventually add to this flock. I was considering golden laced wyandotte, another ameracauna, and maybe rhode island reds.

    Any thoughts on what would integrate into this flock well and what are "must avoids"? Looking for good layers and friendly birds.

    Rebecca
     
  2. sylviethecochin

    sylviethecochin Crowing

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    RIRs integrate well in my experience. They're great egg-layers (260/yr average) and my ideal flock would include several of them. They're bold. Some hens can be aggressive, I've heard, but I've never had a problem, and I've had about twenty of the hens. (We have six right now) The roosters are almost always aggressive.

    I've never had an Ameracauna, but I'm guessing that what you have is actually an EE (Easter Egger--if she's not a solid color, she's an Easter Egger) EEs also tend to integrate well, but I've never had a looney one, so maybe you're getting a different line than I am. Ours are good egg layers, and came from a guy at the auction who had two roosters--one EE and one Wyandotte--over EE hens. They're all good layers, and the two wyandotte crosses lay quite well in the winter compared to our other breeds.

    Wyandottes are supposed to be really calm, and sometimes aggressive. I've never had them (unless you count crosses--I loved the crosses.) They are on the bottom end of the good egg layer scale at about 200/yr, which is why I have never had any pure-breeds. They are supposed to lay well in winter.

    Check out Plymouth Barred Rocks. They're not my favorite bird, but a lot of people on here swear by them--both for color and for production. They can be aggressive, especially to other birds, in my experience. I believe their average is 270/yr, but I'd need to check my facts.

    Australorps are a very nice breed. They're calm, docile, large--I only have one, at present, but they lay very nice sort of off-pinkish coloured eggs. (about 250/yr.) I have never heard of an aggressive australorp hen, and ours were real sweethearts.
     
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  3. Rebecca Thomas

    Rebecca Thomas In the Brooder

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    Thank you so much for your reply! The Ameracauna came from a 4H program where they have to learn breed standards and auction and all that so I'm not entirely sure if its an actual Ameracauna or EE. It lays blue eggs. And in fact it stopped laying when it got cold and appears to possibly be molting. My others are great thus far. I get about 4-6 eggs a day, so some are laying every day and some every other.

    I appreciate the advice on the RIR. I do not plan to have any roosters, so hopefully then hens will do well. I have heard australorps are good as well. I won't lie...I really like the golden laced wyandotte simply for its look. :)

    What type of coop integration tactics have worked for you in the past?
     
  4. sylviethecochin

    sylviethecochin Crowing

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    Sorry, my method almost certainly isn't going to work for you.

    I isolate the new adult chickens for two weeks to prevent disease, and then dump them into the pen. I'm no integration expert: my flock's pretty laid-back. If the new adults don't get along with the standard layer flock, they go hang out with the bantams in the barn until I separate everyone for winter housing. By that point, everyone's pretty used to bumping into each other anyway, and there's not much fuss. New chicks are just broody-raised with the flock--there isn't an integration period.

    I've heard that penning the juveniles beside the adults in a wire cage helps them get used to each other--they can see, but not touch. And, of course, it always helps to have the proper amount of space for your flock.

    The rule of thumb, according to Lazy gardener, is 4 sq. feet in the coop each, 10 sq. feet in the run each, but, of course, it depends on individual flocks and time of year and age and a multitude of other factors. Birds that are just coming into lay do need as much space as they can get, because hormones make them fairly moody at that age (it's the age when birds are most likely to cannibalise). Birds do need at least 10 inches on the roost each. They all want to perch.

    I'd guess that your bird is a proper ameracauna, if she came from a show demonstration--Easter Eggers have no show standard and therefore cannot be shown. Good for you.
     
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  5. jane s chickens

    jane s chickens Crowing

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    I just took down2 wire panels to let my 8 & 12 week chicks share a large pen with my 3 silkies & 5 polish chickens. They are all close to the same size & have been together now for a week with no problems. I have in the past tried this with large fowl & had 8 week old chicks killed
     
  6. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Crowing 8 Years

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    What I am a bit worried about is your set up, if you get that many chicks, you are doubling your size of flock. You will need a pretty large coop/run set up for 12 full sized birds, unless you are planning on culling some of your current flock.

    Just remember chicken math has to go both ways, addition and subtraction. Over crowding can cause a lot of problems. On the other hand, I love having a multiple generational flock. I add new birds each year, and birds are also removed.

    You will be able to cheat a bit on numbers in the spring, the chicks are small, going into summer, birds are outside most of the long day. But come the cold dark days of winter, where birds are spending most of the day and night on the roost, then you need sufficient room in the coop.

    Mrs K
     
  7. Rebecca Thomas

    Rebecca Thomas In the Brooder

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    I think I'm going to try penning them next to the older flock for a while once they are about 8 weeks and see how it goes. I've got 60 square feet of pen and 6 birds right now and about 16 square feet in the coop, which is cramped. We underestimated the size of the chickens when we built the initial coop haha. So next month we are extending the pen by 25 square feet and tearing down the small coop to build on a large one. This will hopefully provide them plenty of room if I add 4 chickens.
     
  8. Rebecca Thomas

    Rebecca Thomas In the Brooder

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    I am looking for any advice on extending my coop! Right now the pen is 10×5×6 and the coop is 4×4 which is too small. My goal is to free range during the day some, but I've been afraid to try that just yet.

    I am going to buy two extension panels for the pen that are 5 feet long and then build a walk in coop onto the end of the pen that is floor to ceiling and about 5 foot deep. So it would be 5×5×6, with nesting boxes in a horse shoe fashion about 24 inches off the ground and then roosting bars running across each side. The pen currently has a 1 foot chickenwire skirt to deter predators and I have a dog which does a good job of that thus far. No predation problems thus far.

    Any advice on improving the setup? We are new to chickens, so other than having someone from 4H come out to okay our coop, we have been searching backyard chickens for ideas.
     
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  9. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Crowing 8 Years

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    Personally, I have built this coop and really like it. I like a coop you can walk into.
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/articles/the-clutch-hutch-chicken-coop.47792/

    However, often times you can buy a shed rather more cheaply than you can build it, and a little paint can fix it right up. Ventilation is of utmost importance. Do not worry about keeping your birds warm, worry about keeping them dry. Allowing moisture to escape is how you do that.

    Really with a 4x4 coop, you should not add any more birds to that, until the new coop is built, you are asking for flock problems if you do. Those coops look darling, and cause a lot of problems as they are no where near big enough for the number of birds they say.

    Do not think that 'free ranging' can make up for not enough space. They have to go into the coop at night, if they are over crowded, they will peck. In the winter time, they spend sometimes 16 hours on the roost.

    Check out coops at the top, there are many, many designs. A well made coop is a pleasure, but really chickens are not too picky, and a pretty basic shelter will work fine.

    Mrs K
     
  10. Rebecca Thomas

    Rebecca Thomas In the Brooder

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    Yeah my plan is to get chicks and keep them in a brooder setup until they are 8 weeks old and then move them to the coop. So it gives me two months to get the new coop built. Last spring I kept them in my mudroom in a brooder and just extended the brooder when they needed more room. I live in Bayou La Batre, AL, so moisture is a HUGE problem here. I have learned a lot about that in the past year. I have been using dry hay once a week to keep everything dry and fresh but I think having a floor to ceiling walk in will certainly help.

    About the free ranging....

    I have a chain link fence and even if I clip their flight feathers I don't trust they won't hop over, so I am waiting to put up a privacy fence before I let them out. And then I have to put up the dog because she's a 100 lb catbull that would likely kill them. So those are my reservations there. I realize it doesn't take the place of a good size coop, but I thought they would be happier during the daytime if they were out a few hours to peck around. My goal would be to do it while I'm outside working so I could keep an eye on them.

    I'll check on the coop plans! I have so many ideas but don't want to break the bank so cost effective plans are much appreciated. Its easy to let the chickens eat you out of house and home! :)
     
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