Adding to Flock -- better to add pullets or chicks?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Chicken Little-er, Mar 7, 2013.

  1. Chicken Little-er

    Chicken Little-er Out Of The Brooder

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    Sorry -- posted this in the wrong forum initially by mistake!

    We have a small established flock of 5 hens and one rooster. We want to add around 6 birds this year and are debating whether to go with chicks or to order started pullets from Murray McMurray. With the started pullets we'd be sure to get hens and I'm wondering if the integration would be easier. Would love to hear thoughts either way. Thanks!
     
  2. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    It's usually recommended not to try to add chicks until they are full size, and only after they are used to seeing and hearing each other. This is a good article, partly about quarantine which should not apply to you, but also about methods:

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/adding-to-your-flock
     
  3. Chicken Little-er

    Chicken Little-er Out Of The Brooder

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    Thank you very much. Based on the article, it seems as if the pullet integration might be easier -- the birds would be of similar size, fully feathered and if we add 6 to our existing 6, the new and old groups will be evenly numbered. But the 6 pullets will also be new to each other, I expect.

    Our chickens free range all day and have a good size closed run and coop. I'd never heard of getting pullets before and when we integrated some chicks with young pullets 2 years ago it was not pretty, though they eventually sorted it out. Our other thought is to let our current girls keep going into the late fall, have them processed and then start with a fresh flock in the spring. We don't have the capacity for 2 parallel set-ups.
     
  4. WalkingOnSunshine

    WalkingOnSunshine Overrun With Chickens

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    It's nigh impossible to add chicks to an established flock. They need to be kept under warm lights, fed different food, and the older hens will try very hard to kill them.

    Adding pullets isn't particularly difficult. Put them in a place where they can interact with the rest of the flock through a fence for a week or so, then let them all out to range together, making sure there's plenty of room for the newbies to run away from aggressive hens. They'll sort it out, as you found out before.

    I often buy started pullets, but never from MMM. Do be aware that they may be beak clipped, and that you won't have a choice in the matter. I think it looks awful, but they seem to do just fine, even out at pasture. If MMM is the same as Meyer, the new pullets won't be strangers to each other. At Meyer, a worker catches them for you from a large flock that has all been living together.

    I like the idea of adding pullets much better than adding chicks, because if you process them all this fall you'll go months and months and months without eggs!
     
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2013
  5. Chicken Little-er

    Chicken Little-er Out Of The Brooder

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    Thank you very much. I didn't mean that I would add the chicks right away -- sorry for not communicating that well! But even when I added them last time when they were fully feathered out it was difficult.

    Thanks for the tip about Meyer -- I'll check them out. MM's descriptions says their beaks are not clipped -- I wouldn't want that! Good to hear that you've ordered pullets and that they should know one another -- very helpful!

    Much appreciated!
     
  6. Mattemma

    Mattemma Overrun With Chickens

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    Try the pullets.You already did the chicks before.See if you can find local.I have found it hard to
    add at any age.Some of my hens are just so mean!
     

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