Down to my last Chicken

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by SteveJack34, Mar 14, 2017.

  1. SteveJack34

    SteveJack34 New Egg

    2
    0
    7
    Mar 14, 2017
    Hello
    This is my first post but I need some advice.

    I'm sadly down to my last chicken the rest having died of old age. The last hen herself is well into her fifth year and laying well, she's even survived a brush with the local foxes. She's happy and spends a lot of time with us in the garden and is very friendly. She need some company so I'd like to get some more hens.

    I'm concerned about the introduction of new hens. Obviously there's going to be some pecking as they sort things out for themselves but with her age I was wondering how she would manage.

    My other option would be to get the golf balls out and encourage her to go broody and then introduce some fertilised eggs.

    Thoughts would be appreciated.

    SteveJ
     
  2. TheKindaFarmGal

    TheKindaFarmGal Overrun With Chickens

    5,508
    5,600
    396
    May 4, 2016
    Somewhere in the Universe
    She'd probably do fine. If you got younger pullets, they would get picked on a little more but you wouldn't have to worry about your current hen.

    And welcome to BYC!
     
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2017
  3. Lady of McCamley

    Lady of McCamley Overrun With Chickens

    5,678
    1,828
    361
    Mar 19, 2011
    NW Oregon
    Has she brooded before? Has she ever gone broody?

    I've only successfully encouraged a broody type hen to go broody with tempting nest and eggs (just managed that with a Silkie again).

    However, if she has never done so, it won't happen. Broody is genetically and hormonally induced. Most commercial breeds have had broodiness selected out of the line as the focus is on production.

    Having said that, if you can get her to brood because she has done so successfully before, and she is about due, I'd go that route as it would be a great way to keep her busy and raise a whole new group of hens...and roosters (remember you'll get some of those too).

    Otherwise, see if you can't find some 8 week old pullets somewhere. I've had good success introducing a group of younger pullets, that have been raised together, in with an adult bird. The younger pullets would normally get picked on by the older bird, but the grouping together dissuades to much of that going on....unless you have an aggressive bird...which the gal doesn't sound like she is.

    And last, you can introduce some adult hens, but be very careful about disease and the dynamics. It could be a bit of a free for all until order settles, and you favorite may not be the one on top.

    My thoughts.

    LofMc
     
  4. SteveJack34

    SteveJack34 New Egg

    2
    0
    7
    Mar 14, 2017
    Yes she has gone broody before. Tried her on some eggs previously. Unfortunately one of the other hens decided to push her out the way and kick the eggs out of the nest.

    SteveJ
     
  5. Lady of McCamley

    Lady of McCamley Overrun With Chickens

    5,678
    1,828
    361
    Mar 19, 2011
    NW Oregon
    Then try setting some eggs with her. Start with some "duds" to see if you can get her in the mood.

    Spring is coming, which is the normal time for brooding, so you may get lucky.

    Hatching fertile eggs is the best way to introduce new birds to a flock for integration as well as disease (being aware that MG is still possible).

    So, if it were my hen, I'd set her favorite nest with some warm soft straw or shavings, darken things a little, some nice ping pong balls (or better some toss away eggs).

    Also put some calcium grit out or extra oyster shell. The calcium boost can trigger the hormones too.

    You need warm, dark, fluffy, with eggs, undisturbed.

    If she sets, then get some fertile eggs within a few days. Not overly expensive ones as you are at a bit of risk as she's never set the full 3 weeks before, but if she was determined, it could work.

    Otherwise, you are out some eggs and then can look at finding some younger pullets, which technically should be isolated for several weeks before introducing due to risk of disease or parasites from the new birds.

    LofMc
     
  6. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Overrun With Chickens

    4,700
    1,323
    356
    Nov 12, 2009
    western South Dakota
    or, get her broody, then slip day old chicks under her. Especially nice if you don't want to deal with roosters, just get pullets. I have had good luck, slipping chicks under a broody hen at night. If the chicks are a bit chilled, they will burrow into that warm spot tight as a tick, and it is that movement that switches the broody hen to mama mode.

    Mrs K
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by