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Have 15 babies - 8 weeks old, can I add 3 - year old hens?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by prairie mom, May 19, 2011.

  1. prairie mom

    prairie mom Out Of The Brooder

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    May 6, 2011
    First, this board is great. I have been reading here since the day I brought the babies home!

    I started out with 16 from a straight run, day old, batch of chicks in March. One of the EE's had a cross beak that although we tried to help out, just never grew, and finally after four weeks, we had to cull as he was starving to death. (Man was that ever hard, as of course the "special one" was our favorite!![​IMG] Thank the LORD my husband did it for me.) So, we now have 15 happy, healthy birds; one EE--roo, two Rhode Island Reds--one pullet one roo, two Australorps--both pullets?, two New Hampshires--one pullet one roo, three Golden Campines--one pullet two roos, one Golden laced Wyandotte--pullet?, and four Barred Rocks--four roos. Note: my gender guesses are from spending the last eight weeks reading all the byc breed and gender threads!! LOL

    Now, my question(s) for you are; I have an opportunity to purchase three healthy, full grown, Barred Rock, laying hens on Saturday. Should I?

    My plan to integrate them with the babies is -- to pen them separately, in the same area, so they can see and hear each other for a day or two. Then put them all together in the big girl coop at the same time. Babies are in their big brooder (no heat lamps anymore) in the garage. So I would make another caged off area for the big girls too in the garage. Should I do this set up longer in case the big girls have some sort of chicken disease? I do plan on dousing the new chickens from beak to toenails, a few times, with food grade Diatomaceous earth upon bringing them home.

    And do you think the pecking order would be less harsh to work out if everyone went into the big coop (brand new) at the same time?

    Thank you in advance, Chicken People![​IMG]

    ~Rosie
     
    Last edited: May 19, 2011
  2. emys

    emys Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 19, 2008
    Idaho
    Always quarantine new birds for about 3-4 weeks. (Especially if introducing to young birds). This means ideally that they are on ground that will never be touched by the young birds (in case they have something nasty). If they look at all unhealthy when you go to get them, DO NOT PURCHASE!! Even if they do look healthy, be sure to worm the new birds right away unless you are certain the past owners can tell you without a doubt that it was done within the last month or so. You may also want to set up a dusting bin for them with Sevin dust in it for mites and or bird lice just to be safe. Diatomaceous earth is a preventative measure mainly and won't get rid of existing bugs on birds in my opinion.

    Even if quarantine were not an issue for you, which it is, two days is not enough time before you put them all anywhere together. They should see/hear each other for at least 2 weeks before introduction. With such a big age difference, you may need to wait longer if you can't watch hens bullying chicks, because they naturally will establish dominance and it isn't always pretty.

    If your case, I would say it is best to move your young ones into the new coop first giving them the home court advantage.
     
  3. ChickensAreSweet

    ChickensAreSweet Heavenly Grains for Hens

    I agree with emys.

    Eight week olds really shouldn't be placed with older hens anyway if you can help it...a little older really makes a difference. They should technically be around the same size. Now I have to say that I personally have gotten away with it. But it is really dangerous, I must admit. One time, with another flock, I didn't get away with it and they would have killed the younger ones. I had to wait until 4 months of age, which is what I recommend.

    A month long quarantine is very wise. Even with a quarantine, there are diseases that are asymptomatic for the carrier and might get your flock sick.

    I recommend always buying from a reputable breeder or buying chicks from a reputable source. (There are even diseases that pass through the egg!)

    Now if the hens you want to buy look very good to you, and you really like them and want to do the quarantine, I would say that after the quarantine, go carefully with integration. Do it under supervision and here is a very good page to read (scroll down):
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/web/viewblog.php?id=2593-adding-to-your-flock

    If the hens look like they are going to kill the younger ones, they might. Chest bumping and a peck while the younger one squeaks and runs away (with the older one not pursuing) are normal and to be tolerated.

    Also, I recommend dusting the new girls with real bug killers like a poultry dust. DE is a good preventative IMO but if they actually have mites or lice, you will need to kill them with a chemical. My chickens get mites seasonally as the songbirds bring them in, and I clean my coop EVERY day. I never was able to find the mites on the chickens when I inspected them- I found them on me, biting me.

    So needless to say, if I bought hens I'd be dusting them, lol! Just be careful and wear a mask, long sleeves, and use a sock tied off at the top or stocking to get under the wings and everywhere but the face. Repeat in 10 days or so to get the hatching eggs.
    http://ohioline.osu.edu/vme-fact/0018.html

    If you start seeing diarrhea in your new ones, you can send a fecal to the vet to check for worms, or worm them but you must toss the eggs for awhile.
     
    Last edited: May 20, 2011
  4. prairie mom

    prairie mom Out Of The Brooder

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    May 6, 2011
    Thank you, emys, hey, I'm your neighbor here in the Gem State![​IMG] What a cold wet spring we are having.

    I also posted this question on the Managing Your Flock section this morning and it was suggested I keep everyone separate for up to eight weeks. I knew this board would be the place to ask my question(s)!!

    So here is my plan B -- Move babies on Saturday to the new coop as planned. Thoroughly clean out their brooder in garage for the 3 new birds, IF they are healthy enough to purchase, as you said. Pick up some Sevin dust. Then in a couple of months, integrate them gradually with the babies, when I am sure they truly are healthy. Does that sound right?

    Thanks again,
    ~Rosie
     
  5. prairie mom

    prairie mom Out Of The Brooder

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    May 6, 2011
    Thank you, ChickensAreSweet, for your reply. Oh boy, maybe it would be easier to just go to the farmer's market this summer and buy eggs!! LOL

    This whole "buying laying hens" started when I found out my four favorite Barred Rocks are all roosters~ and a guy that works for my husband told him he had BR laying hens for sale. What is a girl to do?[​IMG]

    ~Rosie
     
  6. emys

    emys Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 19, 2008
    Idaho
    Yup, it's a wet one! (Put my tomatoes in yesterday anyhow).

    It really is hard to resist the instant eggs thing - I bought adults when I first had chicks that were a few months old. They came through quarantine OK, but turned out to be feather plucking bi***es. In the end, I wished I had just stayed with my chicks.

    Not all adult hens are worth the effort, hopefully yours will be.
     

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