Considering Expanding My Flock

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by anbhean, Nov 11, 2011.

  1. anbhean

    anbhean Chillin' With My Peeps

    134
    1
    99
    Jun 3, 2010
    Colorado
    I have a question about adding to an established flock. I have three girls currently who are 1.5 yrs old. And they are laying less than I would like (but are laying within a normal range, I just have a growing family that's eating more eggs now). I'd like to add a girl or two to the flock, but am really worried about making my girls sick. I kinda missed the "chick days" this last Spring because I hadn't decided to expand then. However, I just came across a person selling 11 wk old pullets. What vaccinations should I be concerned about them having and how long should I keep them separated from my girls to make sure they are safe to introduce?

    Also, I don't have the room or money to build tandem runs to "introduce" them for weeks on end. Any recommendations on how to integrate three month old (the age they would prob. be when I was ready to put them in with my girls) pullets into an already established flock? If it helps, I currently have two barred rocks and one Delaware. They Delaware is the pushy one, but one of my B.R.'s is a feather picker (mostly her own, the dork. She's purty, but not real bright. LOL!). I'd be looking to bring home two Australorps.
     
  2. anbhean

    anbhean Chillin' With My Peeps

    134
    1
    99
    Jun 3, 2010
    Colorado
    I just heard back from the lady with the pullets I'd like to buy. They are still totally isolated from any other birds but their hatch mates and have been vaccinated for Marrecks (sp?). Should they be safe to have around my girls? Also, how hard is it to introduce new birds by letting them free range together with supervision?

    Sorry for all the questions but I've found so many conflicting stories out there, I'm not sure what to believe. Thanks in advance for any advice!
     
  3. teach1rusl

    teach1rusl Love My Chickens

    Honestly, is always a crap shoot introducing any new birds into a flock. Hatchery day-olds are a really safe bet (just haven't had time to be exposed to anything). Getting birds from a someone you know personally (so you're familiar with their flock) would be the next safest move IMO. Taking in birds from someone you don't know would be the most iffy.
    Other than the day olds (which would be kept in a separate facility anyhow), it's a risk not to quarantine new birds. Odds are, they wouldn't bring in disease, but it has happened to people here on BYC.

    Free ranging is one of the best ways to let chickens get to know one another, IMO. It's always easier on new birds when ample space (to get away from pickers/peckers) is available. It's best not to put newbies in with a flock until they're close in size to the birds that are already there, so that they have a better chance of defending themselves.
     
  4. DanyyChicken

    DanyyChicken Chillin' With My Peeps

    158
    0
    99
    Mar 30, 2011
    Southern NH
    It is a scary thing! I am new to chickens. I have my first flock of 6 hens one roo since May. Currently everything was going great with them. They are very content and there is no fighting and I am getting six eggs per day right now. So why did I foolishly buy two more 3 month olds to try to integrate into flock?? I keep asking myself that?
    I bought the two new birds back in Sept. and completed the 30 day quartine with no issues. They were housed in my garage in a pet carrier. Next step introduce them to existing flock over time. Moved pet carrier to coop to house them in at night and set up small divided run inside the big run so they could see it other but not touch. Still everything was going as planned. Then we had a cold snap and snow storm so moved young girls back to garage for two nights. Upon bringing them back out to coop noticed now one had a gooey eye. Then next day she seemed a little wheezy. Now they are on antibiotic! Another week gone by still in garage and not fully recovered but getting better.
    So this process has taken much longer than expected! Almost had them two months now and now unable to put them in with big girls due to illness. To make a long story short ask yourself if you really need them? Are you prepared for a worst case scenario? In my case that would be that these two birds don't get better and then where am I at.... Having them live in my garage permanently? I wouldnt have the heart to cull them.
    So think long and hard about all the possibilties! I hate to be a downer! But I sure am kicking myself in the pants right about now![​IMG]
     
  5. darin367

    darin367 Chillin' With My Peeps

    315
    12
    111
    Dec 1, 2010
    Shelton, Wa.
    after your quarantine, or inspection....... as long as they have enough space to run away from a hen picking on them or, better yet if they have a place only the smaller birds can escape to they figure it out pretty quick and do fine......... i put a board in front of my coop just off the ground high enough that only the small ones can get under the coop.. it's worked great many times.....
     
  6. anbhean

    anbhean Chillin' With My Peeps

    134
    1
    99
    Jun 3, 2010
    Colorado
    Good ideas. Thanks!

    I was thinking, if I got these two girls-- I'd keep them in the house for at least a month, maybe 1.5 since by then they'll be close to 4 months then and more "full sized". After the first month, or so I'd introduce them during free range time on all the nice weather days and after they are all happy with each other, I'd officially move the new two into the coop.

    But would that be long enough to make sure they were not going to make my current flock sick? I worry because, DanyyChicken-- you had yours quarantined for a month and it still was a problem, so that's scary. Where I live I don't even have access to a chicken vet. All the "farm" vets only see the big farm clients and the normal vets don't see "livestock". So if they get sick, I'm going to have to scramble to a bigger, better town to seek help.

    My one thing I am encouraged by is the seller still has them isolated from her adult flock, so just like the little chicks-- they have only been exposed to each other. Does that make things safer?
     
  7. DanyyChicken

    DanyyChicken Chillin' With My Peeps

    158
    0
    99
    Mar 30, 2011
    Southern NH
    Anbhean there is always the possibility that the new birds caught somthing from my existing flock. They were not able to touch each other but obviously were exposed to the sand in their run and in very close proximity to them. My existing flock is still outwardly healthy by all appearances but they could be carriers of some respiratory thing that they had alright built an immunity too. I'm sure the stress of being within the pen in the run with all eyes staring at them is liable to weaken the new birds immune system.
    Finally the new birds are showing improvement after 5 days on duramycin and an optic bacitracine for one weeping eye. The silkie seemed to be the most affected. The other bird a silkie cross seemed at bit more robust and less effected. I will wait a week to see if symptoms reoccur and then start the reintroduction all over again. Unfortunately it's a race against time as the temperature and weather will only get progressively worst as we get nearer to December.
    If ever I decide to add to my flock again I will certainly add birds in the spring so I don't feel the crunch of the frigid temperatures to come!
    As teacher1rusl stated it is a crap shoot. You never know what will occur! There are just so many variables. It's probably more stressful for the owners than the birds. Right!
    Wishing you the best off luck![​IMG]
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by