Amazing creatures and combining flocks

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by pjmarkavage, Jun 6, 2017.

  1. pjmarkavage

    pjmarkavage Just Hatched

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    I am amazed and in somewhat awe of chickens. I don't think they are stupid creatures even though some of them get the "bird brain" moniker. I believe they are smart creatures looking for a place to stay, lay eggs, and be loved just like other animals. Dare I say Someone designed them that way.

    Anyways, philosophy is not the reason for this post. I wanted to also post and get any feedback, even negative feedback. We bought 6 new black chickens (forgot the type they were, but I call them speckled) and 2 NH reds to add to the 3 NH reds we have now, bringing the flock up to about 11. We took care of them since mid April and we decided to mix them a couple of days ago.

    At the time I wasn't aware of the need to wait until week 16 (we're at maybe week 9 for these small 8 chickens). Of course, day 1 was pretty awful for them. The 8 ran under the coop and the 3 strutted around the run - we're the queens, look at us. We'll eat your food. I had a video clip to show everyone, but I think I deleted by accident off my phone.

    This is a 4 minute video clip of one of the black chickens wondering what the coop is. But it won't give you much of a sense of their current relationship to Mama Sister:

    https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B52sxppKVKu-blpGRzItOXFTSWM/view?usp=sharing

    The video is wrong by the way, you might have to rotate and put up with my cell phone 90 degree angle. Sorry.

    Based on that first day (and you don't see much in this video, but after the video - there definitely was squabbles) - I was for certain we made a mistake. They're too small to survive and they're just going to stay underneath the coop.

    Second day, the morning didn't seem to go too well either. They wouldn't come out from underneath the coop and the big sisters were 'ruling' the roost as I'd like to say. But by the afternoon / evening, my son says something dramatic happened. It didn't reverse, but it sort of did. Now, the three sister chickens are "afraid" of the younger chickens, trying to avoid them and the younger chickens apparently aren't being picked on though they seem still frightened from time to time. I don't know if they are "accepted" yet, but the sisters don't want to go near them for some reason, the younger chickens . Did something happen in the coop or run when we were away?

    So last night, we put the 8 chickens into the coop/hen house to sleep (it was rainy and cold). I thought all haywire would let loose, but instead - the three sisters again ran away from the smaller hens to stay on their roost and the younger hens just found a place in the corner of the coop to sleep.

    This morning, we opened up the coop a little earlier, and the 3 chickens went out and did their normal morning routine. However, they squawked quite a bit. The smaller chickens are inside the coop eating their food (we believe it is safe since they are at 9 weeks) and drinking their water. I assumed the three sisters were upset with that, but weren't going to personally deal with the problem. So I gave them food and water out in the run and then let them go to free range.

    I don't really have any questions, I just find the whole thing FASCINATING. I don't know or understand why, but chickens amaze me in their behavior and the things they like, don't like, etc. Maybe it's because I never grew up on a farm and this is old hat for other people. I just hope that in a week or so, these gals can get along and form a new family. I personally thought based on the first day that our smaller chickens were not going to survive and maybe we'd have to go back to the garage with them, but amazingly - they are holding their own and surviving - even if they seem a little bewildered right now.
     
  2. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Lots of Chickens Premium Member

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    I grew up on a farm, and own a farm, I still find chickens fascinating animals. I integrate my chicks at 6-8 weeks, so its good you didn't wait. Older birds are seen as intruders, and chicks are seen as someone's kids, they just don't know who's kids.
     
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  3. KoopOnTruckin

    KoopOnTruckin Chillin' With My Peeps

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    East Orlando, FL
    They really are amazing and fascinating creatures, that is for sure. I get my chickens integrated whenever I can, usually not before about 6 weeks old, but after that usually the younger the better. Right now, I have 7 week olds, 11 and 14 week olds, and my 1-3 year olds all free-ranging together during the day and sharing 2 coops at night. I like to integrate them in the yard instead of in the coop, it gets them used to each other in neutral territory before moving them into "claimed" area.
     
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  4. pjmarkavage

    pjmarkavage Just Hatched

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    Thank you guys! Tonight the three hens were squawking away because it was time to go to bed and the 8 black chickens had decided to block the door so they couldn't get in. Probably shouldn't have, but I moved the blackies to let the big girls in - but after that, I let what would happen happen. Basically, the big chickens were not happy with them. But they all finally got their act together. :)

    Thank you for your stories Koop and Oldhens!
     
  5. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Overrun With Chickens

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    They won't really form one flock, until the babies are big enough to lay eggs. Until then there will be two sub flocks in your one flock. You will see it if you watch closely. Once they start to lay, they rise in status, and become part of the flock. One of the best things was that you added more small birds than the original flock. It kind of overwhelms the olds birds. I would recommend two feeder/waters arranged so that while eating at one, a bird can't see another eating at the other one. Just keeps birds better fed.

    Even yet, sometimes I take my coffee down and just watch.

    MRs K
     
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  6. pjmarkavage

    pjmarkavage Just Hatched

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    Thank you again gals!

    Unfortunately, the entire experiment was a complete waste due to my own fault. All we used was netting on the top of the run which was completely fine and event free in 2016. A predator (we think a bear but don't know for sure which one) got in and ate all of the baby chickens, leaving behind evidence and coming back the next day to get the last one who I had hoped would stay in the hen house.

    We had the larger birds free range away from the smaller birds for a while, but we didn't want to let the smaller birds out for fear they would never come back. In reality, it became their death traps. :(

    Anyways, we have to strengthen the design of the coop and add something whether it is noise detected lights or sounds or probably something even deeper - an electric fence would be my preference.

    Not much I can do, my house is right against the edge of woods protected by the government. Back to the drawing board.
     
  7. KoopOnTruckin

    KoopOnTruckin Chillin' With My Peeps

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    It's no fun dealing with predators, I've lost 3 chicks in the past month due to raccoons. I agree with you on electric fencing, and maybe a radio inside the coop on a timer to go on at sunset and off at sunrise. Talk radio. I'm also fortifying my fence line and setting up traps and noise-makers to scare them and/or notify my dogs.

    Also urine is a great deterrent. Pee along the fence line or into a jug to pour out there later. It sounds kind of primitive, but you're dealing with animals, so you gotta stoop to their level sometimes. If you have pets, have them do their business over there also.

    If you do all of that, you will let the predators know that there is something protecting that land, or many somethings, and they would be better off going for easier prey.
     

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