Advice needed on acquiring a new flock from various sources! I'm wanting a variety of hens, and can'

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Harper Hollow, Aug 15, 2016.

  1. Harper Hollow

    Harper Hollow New Egg

    4
    0
    9
    Aug 14, 2016
    Fayetteville, Arkansas
    Hi all! I desperately need some advice about acquiring birds for a NEW flock. My husband and I have just gotten our coop with run (stationary) built and are ready to get some hens. I know I want a variety of breeds, but I can't decide if we want to get mature hens or pullets. While it would certainly be convenient to get already laying hens....I'm concerned about pecking order issues as (in order to acquire the breeds i seek) they undoubtedly will come from different sources! I'm also aware that there are probly quarantine issues if I go that route. Would I just be causing myself unnecessary grief, this way?
    Also...I would like to do the deep litter method of keeping the run tidy. The floor of my run is dirt. I've seen lots of info about concrete and linoleum and such...but nothing on dirt. What's the best base layer for my situation?
    Thanks in advance!
     
  2. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Flock Master

    20,999
    10,561
    636
    Nov 7, 2012
    CENTRAL MAINE
    If you want specific breeds, and your heart is set on having those breeds, you are going to have a difficult time finding them at this time of the year. My suggestion, in light of your desire for a custom flock is that you order day old chicks. Even that might be a stretch to get what you want this time of year. You might consider getting one of the surprise packages from a hatchery. It will have a lot of different breeds. Not a bad way for someone starting out to try a lot of breeds. You may find that the birds that were must haves for your flock aren't really that exciting in real life, and you may fall in love with a breed you hadn't even considered. Mixing and matching pullets or hens from different sources can be a night mare in terms of pecking order and biosecurity.

    How big a coop are you building? How many birds do you want in your completed flock? How are you going to manage the flock in terms of replacing older birds? I have bred my own birds for the past 2 seasons, but plan to add some new blood next spring. In order to do that, I plan to order my chicks just as soon as the hatchery starts accepting orders for the 2017 season in January. To lock in the breed(s) I want, to be delivered when I want, I've found it's important to get that order in MONTHS ahead of time.

    Is the floor of your coop bare soil as well as that of your run? You can do a deep litter in both. I have a standard wood floor, covered with sheet vinyl in my coop, and a soil covered run. In the coop, I use dry leaves, and the occasional addition of grass clippings. When desperate in the winter, I use some shavings but much prefer leaves. Any bedding that gets cleaned out of the coop goes straight into the run. My goal is to have a 6" deep layer of mulch/bedding/compost in the run, but that's difficult b/c the stuff melts into the soil just about as fast as I put it in: leaves, grass clippings, garden debris, weeds, wood chips. Nothing goes to waste in my yard.
     
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2016
  3. Harper Hollow

    Harper Hollow New Egg

    4
    0
    9
    Aug 14, 2016
    Fayetteville, Arkansas
    Thanks for the input! I think I'll go with some younger birds available in my area that will be laying by or before Spring, rather than mature birds from various places. I do want a variety, but I'm not dead set on any number of any specific breeds to start.
    As for my coop, it is raised off of the run floor. But my question regarding the deep litter method is just what the first layer on top of the dirt should be.....fine pine shavings? Or would the regular sized shaving be fine? Or should sand go down first and then pine shavings, just to get it going, as there aren't many leaves around right now?
     
  4. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Flock Master

    20,999
    10,561
    636
    Nov 7, 2012
    CENTRAL MAINE
    You're over thinking it! They are going to mix it all up. No matter what you put in there, they will spend the majority of their day digging through it. If your soil is wet, put down some sand. Otherwise, just start putting in what ever you have available. I'd not waste my time with shavings. Use what is free.
     
  5. Harper Hollow

    Harper Hollow New Egg

    4
    0
    9
    Aug 14, 2016
    Fayetteville, Arkansas
    Thank you![​IMG] It hadn't even occurred to me that the chickens will mix it all up regardless! Duh! [​IMG] I feel silly, now!
     
  6. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    36,763
    10,532
    686
    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    If you get chicks now, they'll be laying by spring.......
    ......and you avoid the risk of bringing disease and/or pests into your brand new coop(guess how I know this?)

    Here's a great description of contents and how to manage organic 'bedding' in a run or coop...and there's a great video of what it looks like.
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/1037998/muddy-run-help-please#post_16017992
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by