Adult hen vs. Baby chicks: Who gets the coop first?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by your_pal_skip, Feb 21, 2009.

  1. your_pal_skip

    your_pal_skip Out Of The Brooder

    Feb 7, 2009
    I just finished building my coop. It is appropriately sized for 4-5 birds, and I have three chicks in a brooder box right now. The chicks are 4-5 weeks away from being able to stay in the coop. A couple days ago I learned that the wild bird rehabilitation center behind my house has been flooded with people dumping "pet" birds on them, and they're looking to get rid of chickens. I checked it out, and they've got all roosters save for a single silver wyandotte hen.

    I *think* the way to go here is to pick up the hen, let her live in the coop all by herself for a month, then introduce the three chicks. My thinking is that the month of solitary will a) let me see if the bird is sick and b) help to balance things during the introduction. I figure one lone bird vs. three smaller birds will be more evenly matched if the lone bird already owns the territory.

    Is it ok to make a chicken live by itself for a month? She's housed with four or five roosters right now, so I think she'd probably appreciate the solitude. Am I on the right track with the introduction? I'm not sure what the best way to deal with the size difference and the numbers difference. It is possible to leave the hen at the center for another month and then let them all into the new coop at once, but I'm wary about the diseases that could be brought in, since the hen lives at a sick bird center.

    Any advice is appreciated. I've never had chickens before, and I wasn't thinking I'd have to deal with introducing new chickens for a long time.
  2. chookchick

    chookchick Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 18, 2008
    Olympia WA
    That is soo nice of you to want to provide a home for that hen, but I have to say I would not risk it. You have a nice clean coop, hopefully healthy clean chicks, and bringing her in is asking for trouble. You have no idea how she has been raised or what she might carry. I also have suspicions about SLW hens often being bullies. Introducing chickens is never easy, I would not recommend it right off the bat, could go very bad, and is very discouraging for a newbie.
  3. your_pal_skip

    your_pal_skip Out Of The Brooder

    Feb 7, 2009
    Well the chicks are all SLWs, so maybe it would be a battle royale.

    You're probably right about the disease side of it though. I've volunteered at the bird center, so I know how good their procedures are and how clean they keep it, but on the other hand I also know that they get all kinds of horrifying diseases. The last thing anybody needs is an outbreak of west nile virus in backyard chickens.

    Oh well, I can always just buy the center a bag of feed and go visit her in bird jail :]
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2009
  4. SamG347

    SamG347 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 4, 2007
    I say get the hen.....quarantine her for awhile just making sure she is for any signs of sickness and check feathers for mites. Then wait for the chicks to grow about the same size as her. Since you have more of them I would put them in the coop....keep her seperated....then once they are all about the same size one night slip her into the complete darkness....or you could also have her in a small pen where the other girls can see and chat with her but not have access to her....or her to them. Then one day open her door and let them all mix together.
    Those are the two ways I have found to be best when mixing flocks. Which I have done countless times.
    Goood Luck!
  5. your_pal_skip

    your_pal_skip Out Of The Brooder

    Feb 7, 2009
    What kind of diseases could a chicken have without showing signs for a month? If I bring her home, is there anything specific I should be looking for? I had originally thought that the month by herself would be enough time to quarantine her. Are there diseases that a chicken can just be a carrier for?
  6. Pennyhen

    Pennyhen Out Of The Brooder

    Jan 9, 2009
    Hi Skip,
    I'm in Kuna and I happen to have room for one more hen, hehe.
    I wanted a silver laced wyandotte when I picked up my chicks from dunlaps 2 weeks ago but they didnt have any. If you don't take her I could. let me know where she is.

  7. Chickenmaven

    Chickenmaven Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 6, 2009
    Quote:You are doing a nice thing. However: "Oh, my!" There are a BOAT LOAD of diseases that she can be a carrier for.
    Here's a link, just read away!

    That said, I think you could chance it. If you had a large flock, I would say "Don't".
  8. your_pal_skip

    your_pal_skip Out Of The Brooder

    Feb 7, 2009
    It all worked itself out in the end, the SLW at the rehab was one of their mascot birds, and they said she's something like 8 years old! That bird is set for life. In the mean time I found a buff orpington a little under a year old on craigslist. She was getting picked on too much in her flock, so I brought her home. Now the orp hen is going on a little vacation with a friend of mine who also has a single adult hen until my chicks can join her in the coop.

    Pennyhen, if you're looking for a SLW, there is a woman in Emmet who has them or will order them for you when she gets a batch from Ideal. That's where I got my three. They're doing great, even if two of them have single combs. Here's her webpage:

    like she's out of SLW right now though :\\

    Also, the bird rehab will take your name and phone number if you would like any hens that are abandoned there. I imagine right around April 26 they're going to get flooded with chicks.

    Chickenmaven, that link is amazing. I think I should print it out and just hang it up on the side of the coop. There are roaming chickens in my neighborhood, so even in the backyard I'll still have to be thinking about diseases being introduced.

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