Adding pullets to the flock

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by buyabed1, Dec 20, 2013.

  1. buyabed1

    buyabed1 Out Of The Brooder

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    Nov 17, 2013
    I currently have two two year old roos and two hens that someone gave me two weeks ago (my first chickens). This spring, I would like to add ten pullets. I have a 10 x 10 shed that I use for the coop and a large run (which they haven't used yet due to weather). I have read quite a bit on this site about separating new additions for a week or two before giving them access to one another. My problem is that I cannot do this as they cannot be separated in the coop. What will happen if I just add the pullets at night to the coop? This is my preference, but I don't want to wake up the next morning to a bunch of dead chickens (or is this even a possibility?). I understand the risk of disease (by not incubating them) to my current chickens, but I am willing to take that risk since it is such a small flock and they are older. I really don't want to cull my current four birds to bring in the new ones as they are all nice birds. Thoughts?
     
  2. appps

    appps Overrun With Chickens

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    The separation is more to do with them possibly bringing disease with them. They can have no symptoms of deiseases that could wipe out your existing flock for up to a month and by then if they show symptoms the existing chickens will have it too.

    As you are adding more new than old I wouldn't worry too much about the new being picked on by the old. I added four new to an existing three and it was the three that were the most upset by it all. The new ones were bigger and pretty much ignored them.

    What I do suspect adding will do however is stir up trouble with your two roosters. Someone gets those new girls and this could prompt a hostile take over by whoever is lower now. They could also be very rough with the new ones proving their dominance
    So yeah think its the roosters I'd be most worried about.

    Personally having done the whole quarentine thing next year when we add in going to buy eggs for a broody hen to hatch
     
  3. Kelsie2290

    Kelsie2290 True BYC Addict Premium Member

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    If you are adding during the summer (and the new ones are not laying yet), could you just fence off a piece of the run for them to stay in for awhile to socialize them? A lot will depend on what size/age the new ones are so far as potential problems go. It is easier if they are close to the same size, and with that many new birds, and if they have plenty of space, it usually goes fairly easily. I like to be sure to have the coop open before light when adding new birds like that, so the new ones don't get trapped easily if somebody is being a bully. If the roosters have a set pecking order, adding new pullets will hopefully not upset them much, if they are not sure about hierarchy, it could lead to more fighting.
     
  4. buyabed1

    buyabed1 Out Of The Brooder

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    Nov 17, 2013
    Thank you both for your input. The good news about my roos is that the two hens and one roo are 2 years old. The other roo is a baby of one of them, so they don't fight for hierarchy. The older one is definitely Alpha. I hope that helps the situation. They are both nice…I am not sure if that will change when more hens are added or not. I guess I could section off a part of the yard, but coons could climb the fence (we live in the woods). Probably better not take the chance. As far as size goes: I am hoping to get "brown layer assortment" pullets so they will be a bit smaller, I guess. You both have great ideas. Thank you for responding. I love this site! (Oh, and on a side note… I must share that I got my first egg yesterday and second today! So excited. My family thinks I am nuts, but I am sure you will understand! The ham and eggs for dinner was so much better knowing the eggs came from our chickens:)
     
  5. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    How old will the pullets be when you plan to add them? Are they going to be chicks or pretty much grown? That makes a big difference.

    There are two different reasons you might separate chickens for a while. One is quarantine. If you are bringing in new chickens from a source you don’t fully trust (that includes practically any chickens other than just hatched chicks from a reputable hatchery), it’s possible they are carrying a disease or parasites. Chickens can transmit diseases through sharing drinking water, through their poop, or even just through the air. A proper quarantine involves housing them far enough apart so they cannot even share air, you use different buckets to carry feed to each group, and you change shoes when you go from one to another so you don’t carry a disease on your shoes. The idea is that if you separate them for a month and they are sick, you can maybe catch that before you mix them with your flock.

    One flaw with that method is that many flocks harbor a disease yet are immune themselves. Coccidiosis is a great example but there are others. No matter how long you isolate them, they will never show any signs. It could even be your current flock that is the carrier and has the flock immunity. Don’t get me wrong. Quarantines is a great tool, both to show parasites and allow you to treat them and to expose anything those chickens may have recently been exposed to and have not built up an immunity to. I highly recommend it for chickens you get at a swap or where they have recently been exposed to other chickens. Even the stress of the move may cause them to exhibit symptoms you normally would not see. But quarantine is not a perfect tool.

    To me, a better way to do it is to pick a potentially sacrificial member of one flock to put with the other flock, the flock that has the least value to you. That way, any diseases one flock has developed immunity to is much more likely to be exposed.

    Many people ignore quarantine and generally don’t have big problems, maybe they have to occasionally treat for mites or lice. But occasionally a flock is wiped out by a disease. A lot of that decision is whether or not your facilities allow you to quarantine, how badly you want the new chickens, and how precious your current flock is to you. With baby chicks from a hatchery, quarantine is not even on my radar. I just don’t worry about it.

    The other reason you might want to separate chickens for a while is totally different. Chickens recognize which chickens are members of their flock. Occasionally a chicken may attack a strange chicken that does not belong. This doesn’t happen all the time but it happens often enough to be a concern. If you house the chickens where they can see each other for a week or so, it can make integration go much easier since they at least recognize the other’s right to be there. This doesn’t always work, they still have to sort out the pecking order, but it can really help make integration go smoother.

    If you get baby chicks, you’ll need to brood them until they can handle the weather on their own. The more age and maturity difference there is between your current adults and the new ones, the more risk there is when you integrate. That’s why knowing the age of the ones you plan to add is so important. It makes a huge difference in how to go about it.
     

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