Expanding my flock

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by PipelineGypsy, Jan 19, 2016.

  1. PipelineGypsy

    PipelineGypsy New Egg

    Mar 2, 2015
    Good morning everyone,

    Currently I have 11 hens and 2 roosters. All of them are 10 month old RIRs. I am planning on getting some new chicks very soon. I am wanting more of a variety and I want some brood hens. I'm thinking about 2-3 each of: Ameraucanas, Buff Orpingtons, Cochins, Marans, and Wyandottes. Any foreseeable problems with those breeds and my RIRs? I am planning on building a brooder inside of my existing coop (plenty of room for it) to house the chicks until they are old enough to join the flock (12 weeks?), essentially using an extended version of the "playpen method". First, I would like to know if anyone sees any possible problems with my plan? I would like to have one rooster of each breed, but I know that is way too many roosters. How many is too many? I am also wondering about feeding. Considering they will be on different foods for a short while after I let the chicks join the flock, how should I separate the feed so that they only eat what they are suppose to? I have a hanging 40lb feeder that I use now for the layer feed. Would it be ok to let them just start eating the layer feed a few weeks early? I will appreciate all advice!
  2. howfunkyisurchicken

    howfunkyisurchicken Overrun With Chickens

    Apr 11, 2011
    I don't see any problems with the breeds you've picked out or your plan to house them.

    As for the food, I'd just switch out the layer for all flock or unmedicated chick starter and provide oyster shell on the side for the layers. Then theres no need to provide separate feeds for different ages :)
  3. Paganrose

    Paganrose Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 23, 2010
    Albany,, Wisconsin
    Those breeds shouldn't be a problem. If you wait until the chick are a few months old. They will essentially be 2 separate flocks. If you start integrating early you may have less bullying issues. Just make sure you have plenty of space for the young ones to get a break.

    I would plan on having a rooster for every 8-10 hens. Keep in mind that if you have a few broody birds the roosters will be more persistent with the remaining hens. If you do want more roos considered setting up breeding pens and a batchlor pen.
  4. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Flock Master

    Nov 7, 2012
    Before making your final breed selection, I suggest that you look at the "sex linked information" thread. It has some neat charts in the first post that just may tickle your fancy. You can choose breeds to add to your flock that will give you Black or Red sex-linked chicks. As far as roosters covering hens, my avatar roo, very successfully covered 16 hens last breeding season with close to 100 fertility, so far as I could tell. It was very rare for me to open an egg that wasn't fertile. Excellent hatch rates! I don't think I'd consider adding a second rooster until flock size is over 20 hens. Even with that being said, I expect my roo will easily cover his 24 hens this season! As far as feed goes, you could switch your entire flock to un-medicated chick starter, and provide oyster shell for the layers. Many folks keep their flocks on Multi-flock all the time, so they don't have to mess with different requirements for chicks and hens. Finally, I like your brooding plan. Are you going to use the heating pad cave method? I highly recommend it. Those of us who've used it swear we'll never go back to a heat lamp brooder again! I'd suggest that you wait till the chicks are 2 - 3 weeks old, and then adjust their brooder so they can get out, but the hens can't get in. (give them a small door opening.) Conventional "they say" wisdom says to wait till the chicks are 10 - 12 weeks old so they can better defend themselves from the old biddies. Those of us who've played with earlier integration are finding that it goes much easier if it is done at a much earlier age, before the chicks are perceived as a pecking order threat. When you start this process, of course you'll have to supervise at first, and start slowly, to be sure the babies know how to get back into their safe space when they need to.
    1 person likes this.
  5. PipelineGypsy

    PipelineGypsy New Egg

    Mar 2, 2015
    Thank you so much. I like the idea of letting them out sooner rather than later as it makes perfect sense to me, I had just never heard of anyone ever doing that. I do plan on using the heating pad method for sure. I knew I wanted to start them out in the "big" coop from the very start so I am going to add the new brooding area as a permanent fixture. I know I will always be wanting more chicks and you never know when you will need an area of seclusion for an injured bird. As far as the roosters go, I'm not so much wanting more for covering the hens, but I just enjoy them so much! And they are so very beautiful. Like I said, I would love one of every breed if I knew they wouldn't kill each other :)
  6. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2016
  7. azygous

    azygous Flock Master

    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    Thanks, aart. Click the link and you'll see my set-up for raising chicks amid the adult chickens. The system is tried and proved very successful. Using the heating pad system and raising the chicks in full view of the flock makes it possible to allow the babies to mingle safely with the adults starting at age three weeks. By five weeks, the chicks move into the coop and they are weaned off the heating pad a few days after that, roosting with the adults by weeks end.
  8. PipelineGypsy

    PipelineGypsy New Egg

    Mar 2, 2015
    Thank you part that was extremely helpful!

    You have a fabulous setup! What a wonderful home you have built for your feather babies [​IMG] I am jealous!

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