Can they share housing?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by ameliadanielle, Feb 21, 2015.

  1. ameliadanielle

    ameliadanielle Chillin' With My Peeps

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    We have 8 large breed pullets that we got for eggs and eventually the freezer. However, my husband wants some silkies as well, for pets. Do the silkies need to be housed separately? Will the larger hens pick on them?
     
  2. ShockValue

    ShockValue Chillin' With My Peeps

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    They may pick on them, but not because they are larger or that they are silkies. It's because they will be the "new kids" and forced to the bottom of the pecking order. This also assumes you have ample room for more chickens.

    What you need to do is a slow integration so the birds get used to each other.

    This is a good place to start:

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/how-to-integrate-your-chicken-flock-the-easy-way
     
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  3. ameliadanielle

    ameliadanielle Chillin' With My Peeps

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    The ones we have now are I'm guessing close to two weeks old and are living in my spare bathroom at the moment. They'd all be pretty small and introduced to the yard at the same time.

    We were going to just build a coop and let them roam the yard, we have a 6ft privacy fence with around 1/3 of an acre fenced. I'm worried about them going over the fence or an owl or hawk getting them. We have a great pyrenees so I'm not worried about ground predators.

    We're going to build two coops and the largest run we can fit. I thought 12ft by 12ft for the run. I'm not sure how much space chickens need. I grew up on a farm and the only chickens that weren't free roaming were the ones shut up together for breeding. Everything else just had the run of the outdoors. I kept looking at coops to buy premade but they all looked way too small to me to house even one chicken, much less the 4 stated to fit in that space.
     
  4. ShockValue

    ShockValue Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Ohhh I thought the older ones were full grown. When we bought our chicks there was about a week and a half spread between the oldest and youngest batch and they didn't seem to bother each other at all. My only concern at that time was that the youngest and smallest chick of the lot had a bit of trouble getting to the food sometimes when all the larger ones would crowd in. Not because they were purposefully being mean, they were just being greedy little chicks :)
     
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  5. Sonya9

    Sonya9 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Other than integration issues (which should be a problem with young chicks the same age) I think it usually works out.

    I have a mixed flock of standard birds; a Buff Orp, Leghorn, Favorelle, EE and also 4 OEG Bantams that are the size of pigeons. They all coexist fine.

    One thing to be mindful of is the food, like Shockvalue mentioned. Providing more than one dish/feeder so everyone has a chance to eat is a good idea. My bantams eat alongside of the large birds with no problem but if I introduce younger birds there are pecking order issues and the bantams are especially likely to chase new ones away from the food dishes (even if the new birds are 3 times their size).
     
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2015
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  6. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    You might follow the link in my signature to get my thoughts on how much room chickens need. I don’t give you hard and fast numbers, just things to think about. You’ll see some magic numbers on here of 4 square feet in the coop with 10 square feet in the run per chicken. This is meant for someone keeping a few hens all the same age in an urban back yard. You’ll also reads a lot about how many people are out there regularly managing poop. Chickens poop a lot.

    Your instincts are right about those prefab coops. How well they work out depends on your overall system, not just the coop in isolation, but they tend to require a lot of work, you don’t have enough room to manage any problems that might pop up, and if you leave them locked in there any length of time (for predator protection or just because you want to sleep in on a Saturday) they can have serious behavioral problems if you come anywhere close to believing their capacity claims. Not that they are guaranteed to have problems but the likelihood goes up the more you crowd them. You can probably build something a lot bigger and more suited to chickens for less money.

    Chickens are living animals so it is hard to say exactly what they will do. If they are raised together they tend to get along pretty well though you can still have individuals that are just brutes. Plenty of people have those walking toilet brushes or chickens wearing blinders in with their flock and don’t have any real issues. Occasionally they get picked on. Occasionally other chickens get picked on. Occasionally other chickens get picked on by them.

    I find maturity more important than size when mixing chickens. More mature chickens are higher in the pecking order than less mature chicks. They call it the pecking order for a reason. If a less mature chicken invades the private space of a more mature chicken, the higher ranked chicken can enforce its social status in the flock by pecking. That doesn’t mean it will every time, just that it might. What you find with chickens of different maturity levels is that they tend to form separate sub-flocks. While they may sometimes mix with impunity, the younger tend to avoid the older until they all mature enough to sort out the pecking order and get along.

    Space is critical to this. One way chickens have learned to live together in a flock is that when there is conflict the weaker runs away from the stronger. The weaker usually learn really quickly to just avoid the stronger to start with. If they don’t have enough room to run away and get away or to avoid then it can become deadly.

    I don’t know how much age difference you are talking about when getting those Silkies. Some of us don’t have a lot of problems mixing younger chicks in with the flock. Especially if they are crowded you sometimes need to wait until they are all practically grown, and even then you can have serious problems. It’s really hard to predict what living animals will do. The individual chicken’s personality has a lot to do with it too.

    I suggest you get that second coop ready so you have a backup in case it doesn’t work out. But don’t let the possibility of something not going well stop you from trying. Worst comes to worst, you have to house them separately. It probably won’t come to that.

    Good luck!
     
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  7. ameliadanielle

    ameliadanielle Chillin' With My Peeps

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    They won't ever be confined to the coop. Their door will always be open so they can go in and out to the run as they please. We have freezing temperatures maybe 14 days of the year. For those cold nights we can run the heat lamps in their coops and they will be fine. The heat here is the big deal, so we also need to make sure we have roosts out in the open for when the coops are too hot for them (I've been thinking about adding screened windows or possibly walls to the coop we can cover during winter.) The only predators we worry about are hawks and owls. What the fence doesn't keep out, our Pyr takes care of. She's been guarding pot belly pigs here, but I hope she'll be fine with the chickens. She hasn't seen a chicken since she was a puppy. She was raised around them though.

    I was going to build their coops pretty much like a doghouse. Square box up on pallets, door, hinged lid for cleaning, and just add roosts and nest boxes. Simple. I'm no great wood worker, neither is my husband. I can dream up all sorts of fantastic plans, but this is probably what will work once we put it together. Or well, we can build it and it won't fall apart. The run will just be a wood frame with some sort of wire screening stapled to it so the sides and top are covered. Hopefully it won't be too hard for us to make a door to the run.

    I want to add the silkies now before we put any of the chickens out in the run. So they all go in together. I don't want to add anymore chickens after that for a couple of years. Once we start putting hens in the freezer.
     
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2015

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