Advice for a first timer

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by jalen911, Oct 17, 2013.

  1. jalen911

    jalen911 In the Brooder

    Sep 4, 2013
    Hi all,

    We got our first 4 chickens about 2 months ago and about 4-5 weeks ago our Plymouth Barred Rock got sick and died. We worked hard to save her, but ultimately she didn't make it and thankfully the other 3 seem totally fine so the vet thinks it was likely something anatomically wrong with her rather than a disease.

    We have a coop that fits 4-5 chickens, so it isn't huge. Right now we have 3, and ultimately I'd like to have 4 girls. My initial thought was to wait until next spring to get another the 4th, figuring the 3 that we have might be better off with more room to move in our coop since winter is coming (we're in MN where it gets bitter cold) and they will spend more time in the coop over the winter than out free ranging.

    Now I'm second guessing myself and wondering if it wouldn't be better to get a 4th now so we can keep her isolated for a month and she'd be ready to join the other three right about the time it starts to snow and get really cold- maybe 4 bodies would keep it warmer in the coop than 3? Our coop is not going to be heated in any way, but we do plan to put straw bales around it to give it a bit of an insulating effect.

    My questions:

    1). Do you think it would be better to have 3 or 4 girls through the cold winter in a coop that isn't huge? Will more bodies make it warmer, or make them too tight and stir crazy? Is it smarter to have more warmth and less space, or more space and less warmth?

    2). Also, we got these girls at 14 weeks old and now they are 24 weeks old (no eggs yet, but we're patient). If we waited until next spring and got a baby chick as the 4th, would that chick be more bonded to us or would it be similar to these guys in that they are curious and tolerant of us but don't really like being handled too much? If most chickens will be like that, I'd rather go with an older pullet than get a baby chick:)

    Thanks in advance for any insights:)
  2. Bear Foot Farm

    Bear Foot Farm Crowing

    Mar 31, 2008
    Grifton NC
    I'd try to find a bird about the same age as yours, and introduce them now.

    More bodies will mean more heat in the coop. and the longer you wait to add a new bird to the group, the harder it will be,

    Adding 1 chick to three adults next Spring would probably just result in a dead chick
  3. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Crowing

    Nov 12, 2009
    western South Dakota
    Adding one bird is a difficult process, your other three ALL know she is new. If you really want another single bird, you need to add an adult bird or you will have a wreck... adding two more would be better UNLESS it makes things too crowded. When dealing with chickens, even one more bird can be too many, and will cause bad habits to start. If your original birds were chicks, they will be so or are nearly full grown, thing is, what seems like a lot of room for chicks, gets too small as the birds get bigger. You might, and your flock might be happier with only 3 birds.

    The only way you can successfully add a chick to a flock is if you have a hen go broody, and you trick the broody into thinking she has hatched a chick. But even then if your set up is small it can be dicy. Any non broody hen will attack any stray chick. They are not nice about it. Even if they are nice hens. You ought to see what happened to a mouse!

    I think I would just keep the three, see how the winter goes, and then see how the chicken math is looking. You will either be happy with what you have (said VERY FEW chicken owners) or start to think about getting some more, and thinking how to make the coop a bit bigger!

    Mrs K

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by: