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Cycling a small flock

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Egiroux, Dec 20, 2011.

  1. Egiroux

    Egiroux Out Of The Brooder

    75
    6
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    Dec 5, 2011
    Durham, ME
    I'm looking for info or ideas from those who may have done this. I currently have 4 year old birds. I want to start a 2 stage process where I cycle between 4 and 8 birds by bringing in 4 new chicks every other spring. The thought is to integrate them once they're big enough and then cycle out the 4 older birds when they're done laying, replacing them with 4 new chicks later on. I'm planning to add an addition to my current coop to support this. I have a good sized window on one side that I want to be the connector to the new coop. I plan to use this window to keep the two flocks separated when the new birds are still young and then open the window to have one big common coop once the new birds are grown. Does anyone else have a process like this with your backyard flock?
     
  2. teach1rusl

    teach1rusl Love My Chickens

    It sounds like a good plan. I would think not many folks do it simply because, with really small flocks, they tend to become pets and are hard to eat/rehome 2 yrs. later. If you process your older birds, I'd consider doing it late fall, when the molt will hit and their egg production stops or drops drastically. This would save you feed costs over the nonproductive winter.
    I know with my older girls (this is their 3rd winter), molting is taking forever, and I know I many not get another egg from them until early spring. Mine are pets, so will stay nonetheless. But I have cycled in chicks that should be laying next month. I'm thankful that I have the space to add in birds - and figure by the 3rd rotation of adding in newbies, figure my older gals will most likely be gone.
    I do have a "duplex" type of coop, which has made adding new birds convenient.
     
  3. loanwizard

    loanwizard Chillin' With My Peeps

    I have just started my cycle, as you call it. I had 23 older birds and have hatched out about 60 birds. I currently have all but my 2 week old and 5 week olds together.

    I placed the youngsters in cages in the coop for about 3 days, then let them out in the yard with the fully grown birds. There was definite pecking order issues, but nothing serious. Come roosting time, they all went in peacefully. Now the younger birds are huddling on the oyster shell feeder as their roost, but they all have acclimated nicely. I don't know if this is the "right" way, but this has been my experience and observations.

    Good Luck,

    Shawn
     
  4. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    Our flock isn't huge, not by any commercial standard. The birds are respected, well-cared for livestock. We always have spring chicks, as they will carry the bulk of the egg laying duties come the next fall and winter. Older hens are culled as required. Flock rotation is the only way I know to maintain egg laying consistency, whether that needed consistency is for household egg supply or for egg sales.
     
  5. Egiroux

    Egiroux Out Of The Brooder

    75
    6
    41
    Dec 5, 2011
    Durham, ME
    Fred's Hens :

    Our flock isn't huge, not by any commercial standard. The birds are respected, well-cared for livestock. We always have spring chicks, as they will carry the bulk of the egg laying duties come the next fall and winter. Older hens are culled as required. Flock rotation is the only way I know to maintain egg laying consistency, whether that needed consistency is for household egg supply or for egg sales.

    Thanks for the feedback. I have read many of your posts Fred and have gotten some gread advice. Thanks for that. My goal is to maximize my limited space. By adding an addition to the coop I'm going to use the window as a divider so I can separate the younger and older birds when the young ones are first put out. I want the addition to be a big roosting area when the flock is integreated but still have roosts in my current coop to support 4 birds when they're split.​
     
  6. Sounds like you are starting with good ideas. The only things I would add is that hopefully the window goes to the floor so they can see each other...this makes it go soooo much smoother when they finally get together. They will still go thru the pecking order process for a few days, but it is usually milder. IMPO, it is also easier to add 2 or 3 late in the winter or very early in the spring every year rather than adding double that every 2nd year. If you get day olds the 1st of February, they are ready to go out in the separate coop by middle of March and completely integrated by 1st of June. Then you may find that you are worried about the layer feed and the younger ones. If blue Seal is available where you live then try breeder pellets with oyster shell free choice. If not you can use Purina non medicated chick crumbles with oyster shell on the side. That way all your birds (young, old and roosters) will get great nutrition, the layers will eat the oyster shell as necessary, and the young ones and the roos will not be forced to eat feed with 300% more calcium than they need. I have studied this pretty extensively (kind of a hobby of mine)
     
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2011

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