Different Ages and Feed - Adding to a Flock??!!

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by CourtneyJo33, Mar 13, 2016.

  1. CourtneyJo33

    CourtneyJo33 New Egg

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    Okay, I have never added to my flock and we're about to expand with birds that lay at different times. Or at least I have them on order and was thinking that's how I would do it, but have the option to make adjustments if this isn't how to properly expand a flock...

    Some of the ones I've pre-ordered lay as early as 5 months up to 8 for the later to mature. I don't know what to do with the oyster shell issue having currently laying hens that will be living with non-laying hens. If that's a route I'm allowed to go?? (HELP!!) :D

    I'm very familiar with what and when to feed birds for the perfect diet. I've owned hens for a long time but I always got the same breed at the same time and until they were all gone from healthy old age, I never replaced them or added to the flock.

    First, should I back up and do 3 or 4 of one kind at a time in my smaller coop and introduce them with the laying hens in my giant coop when they can have a layers diet? Because I'm suspecting that might be what I have to do... And so I desperately need advice about this before July so I can make adjustments to my order and how I'll add to my flock.

    But anyone who has expanded there flock, do you do it with random breeds at one time? And if you have do you take the oyster shell away until everyone is laying?

    Do you separate the layers temporarily until some of the others start to lay and then not worry about the possible 12 weeks of too much calcium in a non-layer diet?

    Or have you just let them have it early? A little early? Due to the different egg laying times?

    Obviously this is one area I'm a moron and happy to admit it :)

    I'm just having such a difficult time finding info on this and I definitely need some advice from people who have successfully added to there flock with various breeds.

    I bought the same breeds of birds, as mentioned, every time, at the same age and they all laid within a week or two of each other. So I did the usual baby feed until 12 weeks then switched to 16% all flock, then added around that time a tiny bit of fancy scratch grain and granite. Then when one started laying offered oyster shell. I'm very familiar with diet and that you aren't supposed to offer oyster shell for non-laying hens because it's too much calcium and can be bad for the kidneys I believe is what it is. And then layers need the calcium or they can get that egg laying disorder and possibly die from super weak shells.

    I'm open to criticism here... this is just one area I do not know. Thank you so much to anyone in advance who takes the time to read through this. I love my birds so much. I would die if something happened to them because of me. Well, I would be depressed for sure :( I love, love, love my silly Faverolles...
     
  2. SuperChickRuth

    SuperChickRuth Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Wondering the same thing!

    Advice anyone?
     
  3. wamtazlady

    wamtazlady Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feed the All Flock. Offer the oyster shell. Only the ones that need the calcium will eat the oyster shell. It's not the offering of oyster shell that is bad for non laying pullets. It's the Layer feed that already has the extra calcium that is already in the feed that is bad for non layers. The All Flock you are already feeding is perfect for chickens of all ages. I use All Flock because I have roosters and the extra calcium in Layer feed wouldn't be good for them. This spring I am getting ducks and geese. When they are grown they will also get the All Flock, with oyster shell offered on the side for when they need it.
     
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2016
  4. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    I never feed layer feed. I have different ages and genders all the time and it just doesn't work for me. Plus, I'm not a big fan of it anyway as it's the absolute lowest protein you can get away with for most birds. I like an all-in-one, similar to All Flock or Flock Raiser. It's a 19 or 20 percent protein feed and what I give everyone. I toss oyster shells and their eggshells back to the hens to supplement additional calcium. The non layers try some now and then, but don't really consume any. The laying hens eat what they need, everyone's happy.
     
  5. CourtneyJo33

    CourtneyJo33 New Egg

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    I wanted to thank everyone for there help here. I've been introducing birds all this year and I've had great luck with it. I thought I would come back and share my advice for people who are endlessly using Google to find answers to these questions.

    I took the advice of the wonderful people in this thread and in one small metal side hanging feeder I have calcium and I have crushed granite in the other. So 2 special feeders all together. I have a large galvanized feeder that I keep 18% all flock in. Finally I have 2 large waterers that I keep raised a bit so it stays super clean. Everyone eats what they need and we've had no issues.

    As for introducing the birds. I keep them inside for the first 4 weeks. Tapering away from red light like you should. Then I have this large run extension pen that is around 2 feet by 3 feet. I put the birds in the barn with there own food and water supply in that. It's completely open. It's this very small type of chicken wire, a simple box made out of that so they can see everything and are essentially living outside with the birds. So they live day and night with the hens. They can see them, run around in the cage and explore each other.

    After 4 weeks I have a little door that I cut that's the size of a cartoon mouse hole. I even cut it the same shape. I open that up and the baby birds are able to run in and out and explore but come back in there own personal space if they feel scared or need a break and safe place to sleep. The big birds can't get in and get to there personal supply of food and water so they have a complete space all there own.

    When I notice they are eating out of the big birds feeder and water containers and they are around 12 weeks old I remove the expansion pen and save it for the next flock introduction.

    It's been a perfect way to introduce without having to take tons of hands on time or worrying about anything. We've done 3 introductions so far this year and everything has worked out perfect.

    Right now we have a new pack of 3 that I'll probably open the door for in about 4 weeks before we go on vacation. Of course I'll be here for the first week that the door is open to make sure all is well just in case. You never know.

    Thank you again everyone for the help and advice. We have very happy, very healthy birds because of other experienced bird lovers like you :D
     
  6. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Great follow up!
    Any chance you can post some pics of your chick area and the little doors?
     
  7. CourtneyJo33

    CourtneyJo33 New Egg

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    Absolutely. I'd love to... So you can see in one of the pictures the barn I had built. We have a variety of chickens and ducks. Then on the inside that little cage is the 2 feet x 3 feet expansion pen. It was a little pricey ($100) from Summerhawk. You can order from them or get one from Lowe's or Home Depot. They both carry the "universal expansion pen" if you don't feel like building something. I'm not good with building anything. If you have wood and chicken wire around you could build it for free.

    Then you can see how I decked it out a bit inside. I have a small branch for a roosting bar that had been pushed out and fell because of the ducks running by. And you can see my nosey Dominique that flew out like some sore of canary when I opened the top of the pen to put it back up. They have the water and food inside.

    And if you look close at the photo with the front shown and the three birds looking at me you can see where there is a little entryway that is currently blocked with chicken wire. In a couple weeks that's what I'll remove and they can come in and out like a little dog house. A couple weeks of that and I take the pen out, put wire back over the opening and save it for my next batch of birds.

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  8. luckied

    luckied Chillin' With My Peeps

    @ Courtney. Thanks for your post. I have been dealing with how to get 3 pullets ranging from 5 to 8 weeks to get accustom to a coop that has a 5 month old in it. All they they seem fine when I'm around she, the older, gets very irritated when I put the young ones in "her" coop.
    I'm going to try your idea and this way my fear of her hurting them while I'm not around won't be an issue.
    Thank you.
    I do have one question for you. You said at 4 weeks you put them out in their box for day and night, what have your high and low Temps been while doing this?
     
  9. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Thanks....wow that door is pretty big.......I had to tweak mine down to about 3" wide because some of my older girls are slim and could get thru 4".
    This technique works great tho, I love it..... so much easier to integrate when they are tiny.
     
  10. Choco Maran

    Choco Maran Chillin' With My Peeps

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    As long as they are feathered temps are really not an issue. By the time they are 4 weeks they will be fine out in the coop.
     

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