Chicken Addition - How many chicks?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by MichelleT, Oct 23, 2016.

  1. MichelleT

    MichelleT Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hi all! We adopted 6 former battery girls 2+ years ago and fell in love! (surprise, surprise) We've lost 2 (one to egg-binding, the week we got her and one last summer to EYP) and would like to expand the flock. After considering pullets, adult hens or chicks, I think we've decided to get chicks in the spring.

    So, our city ordinance permits 8 hens or ducks (no roosters). We've got the space for 8, although we will have to expand the run a bit. No problem. I was originally thinking to get 5 chicks, thinking that we may (probably?) lose one or two... all my chicken buddies in town that have gotten chicks have had casualties. If all 5 live, we have 9 (over our limit, but I don't forsee anyone coming around with a clipboard to count my hens).

    What are your experiences with chicks and should I go for 5? or 6?

    Also, my girls are all Red Sex Links - we'd like to try a different breed or two. I understand that they may be more likely to "accept" newbies if they're the same breed? True?
     
  2. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Not true.
    Your existing birds will not be happy to have any breed of new 'stranger' birds invade their territory.
    Best to have some extra space, adjacent to existing coop/run but separated by wire to introduce the new chicks. Lots of different ways to integrate new birds.

    I like to have them live separated, but side by side, for a few weeks before allowing any physical interaction.
    Chicks are easier IMO because they are less of a 'threat' to the existing flock.
    I put tiny doors in the separation wall so chicks could go and out of main area but could get away to safety if needed, did that for a few weeks then took wall down.

    Read up on integration..... BYC advanced search>titles only>integration
    This is good place to start reading, tho some info is outdated IMO:
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/adding-to-your-flock
     
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  3. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Overrun With Chickens

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    Not to rain on your parade, but I would expect you to loose more adult birds over the winter. Red Sex link birds are created to lay eggs. They in my experience, tend to die off between years 2-3. They just are dead when you open the coop in the morning. I do not know what EYP , but battery hens have been used as layers, and once their laying days are over, they often don't live long.

    I have had chickens for 9 years, and really I have had little luck with plans. Things happen that were not in the plan. I would wait till spring, see what you have, then go to the farm store, and get 6 - 8 chicks depending on which of your older birds made it through the winter.

    Mrs K
     
  4. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    Good points made above. Really, you can make plans now, but in the next 4 months things may change dramatically.

    The hens won't care what breed the new chicks are. As long as you stick with laying hen and don't try to add ornamentals like Polish or silkies, you should be fine. I always encourage newer chicken keepers to try several different breeds. Get pretty much one of each that's available and see who you like in person. I've had birds I've been totally in love with on paper, in person.......not so much. And I've wound up with a breed I never though I'd be interested in, purely by accident, and am in love.
     
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2016
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  5. tmarsh83

    tmarsh83 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    The chicks won't be "accepted." They'll have to earn their way into the pecking order once they are big enough to push the issue. That's just life as a chicken, so don't stress about matching your current birds. It won't make a tinkers dang.

    Are you doing mail order chicks or are you planning on picking them up at a local feed store? I think you'll find most losses are during transit and if you can pick them up locally, someone else will have already dealt with the chicks that died in transit, upping the chances your chicks all survive.

    Like others have said, a lot can change between here and there, and local purchasing also doesn't commit you to a number until the day you go get birds. So that helps.

    When you say you have room for eight, can you spell that out for us? What does your coop look like? Dimensions? Same for the run? Pictures would help.

    It would certainly help everyone get an idea of what you are working with and what precautions you may need or what issues may arise.
     
  6. MichelleT

    MichelleT Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks for that input. My friends had gotten them both in town and by mail, so that will make a difference I guess. I don't really know HOW we're getting them yet. Research to be done, for sure.

    As far as them dying off this winter, I'm quite aware that's possible. I have one that is battline various crop issues off and on (and yes, I'm trying to find the cause), but bottom line is I know her days are numbered and I'm okay making her comfortable 'til then, and making the decision to end her life when it's beyond my capabilities. Sucks, but it's part of the game. I guess I was just curious about the general survival rate of new chicks in general... Thanks for that input as well.

    Our run is presently 60 sq feet but will be expanded to 100 sq feet in the spring. They also have an fenced-in area of about 600 sq feet that they 'free-range' in, when we're home and can keep an eye on them. Their coop right now is 25 sq feet but we're building a new coop in the spring that will have 40 sq feet.

    I've done a lot of reading on introducing new birds/chicks, and I'm comfortable (right now) with what to do. Of course, that could change once the process starts. :) I'm mostly just wondering about trying to predict mortality as best one can. Ha.
     
  7. EggSighted4Life

    EggSighted4Life Overrun With Chickens

    Hi. [​IMG]

    Lots of good suggestions already. I would definitely go with chicks. I have lost 40 chicks by mail, but NEVER one that was picked up locally. I have raised many different brood sizes and can say without a doubt that 5 is a nice size for raising together. Some adventurers, others shy.. but 5 was a very nice happy medium. 3 was too few and 10 a few too many especially if they are the same breed and hard to tell apart.

    I also think more breeds is better. Yes I have seen them gang up on the only white bird before, but less likely with more variety. I have 48 birds right now. And only 3 I can't tell from each other are BR. A mixed flock is a lot of fun and I like being able to tell them apart. And seriously, like @donrae said on paper is so different than in person. So think about what egg colors you wanna collect. And also, avoid sex links since you aren't looking for max production.

    If you talk to your local feed store closer to that time, they can usually tell you which breeds they are expecting in their shipments on which dates. And for me, I would start as early as possible in the spring since it take many 5 -7 months to start laying.

    @Mrs. K I guess I consider you to be more of a realist. And I appreciate that a lot more than someone who fluffs the truth. Your experience is valuable! [​IMG]

    Best wishes!
     
  8. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    My mortality is usually pretty low. The best bet I've found is from feed store chicks. They've already been shipped to the store, and the store absorbed any immediate die-off. My store will hold them for a few days, so I can reserve them and let them grow there until they're 4-6 days old. At that point, they're pretty much good to go, in most cases.

    that said, I would order or purchase more than you want. I've had some groups or breeds simply make a hobby of dying for no apparent reason. So, if you're wanting to ad say 6 birds, I'd say buy 10 [​IMG]. Understand from the start you'll not be keeping them all. At about 6 weeks, they'll be fully feathered and you'll be sure of breeds and gender. At that point, you can sell off the extras, down to how many you're allowed and your coop holds. Selling coop ready birds is pretty easy in my area, a lot of folks like getting to skip the brooder stage. Yes, it may be hard not to get too attached, but knowing from the start that some are gonna go makes it easier. Plus, this way if you get an Oops cockerel, you've already got the number of pullets you wanted. Or, if a particular bird just doesn't do it for you, that's the one you sell.

    I think most regulations specify so many birds over a certain age, so you're good to brood extras. You'd probably be good to keep them to point of lay, if you had enough space. Depends on how nosy your neighbors are [​IMG]
     
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  9. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Overrun With Chickens

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    Donrae Quote: Do tell what breed it is, and why you like it!
     
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2016
  10. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    It's my Marans. They'd never been on my radar, really, as hatchery birds are honestly pretty crappy. I answered a random CL ad for 10 hens last Oct. I wasn't expecting much. My plan was to hatch off as many chicks as I could and sell them, then sell the hens the next summer. But, as I had them for a while, I realized they're much nicer than hatchery quality. I don't know where they came from, so I can't prove their breeding, but they're better quality than all my other hens. Wider bodies, wider tails, heftier bodied, they're just more substantial overall. Plus, they were still laying at 4 years old.....

    Thing is, I sold off too many chicks! I have one pullet and two cockerels from my hatches. The hens are going to turn 5 this next spring, so I'm running out of time to get stock from them.......
     

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