How often should new birds be added to existing flock?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by AuburnChickenNewbies, Mar 15, 2012.

  1. AuburnChickenNewbies

    AuburnChickenNewbies Chillin' With My Peeps

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    We started our flock last Spring and the girls are now about a year old. At the beginning, there were two each of five breeds, but since our big dog took out three birds, we now have three "onesies," one of which is a bantam, Dizzy.

    Anyway, I'm looking for a solid 3+ dozen eggs a week (I give away eggs to clients who love them and it's a good way to stay in touch). As chicks come in to our local feed store, we've been toying with the idea of adding five more chicks to the flock, but could really use some advice about egg laying cycles, etc. If we do add chicks, we'll brood them apart from the older girls and then I'll need to figure out the best way to add them into the flock.

    The coop is 8' square and tall. The girls like to roost in the roof trusses and I think there's plenty of room in the coop itself to handle more birds. The run is probably about 1500 sq ft and we also let them out into the yard in the evenings for a couple of hours (after the dogs have had a good run and I can lock them back into the house).

    So ... I guess the questions are ...
    • how often should we consider adding birds to the flock?
    • In order to keep up egg production, should we do this every year? ...
    • .... and these girls haven't really gone through a molt yet, so I'm wondering if we're going to have a period of time where there won't be many eggs?
    • Should we add at least one more bantam so that our little Dizzy has a buddy? (She's pretty much off by herself most of the time as the others tend to pick on her a bit -- although she's a tough little thing.)

    (lots of questions here ...)
     
  2. dawg53

    dawg53 Humble

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    When my egg production slows, I'll usually order a few more chicks once every 2 years, maybe a little longer. Once the chicks grow some, I put them out in a growout pen all day and bring them in the garage at night in their cage. This way, the older birds get to see them all the time and makes integration much easier. If you're looking for egg producers; Black Stars, Red Stars and Leghorns are what you want. I've found that hatchery Leghorn's burn out quicker and Red Stars seem to be mean and occasionally get eggbound. I've never had that happen with Black Stars...just my opinion. You can choose whatever birds you want and when you think you need more of them, it's all up to you.
    Since your birds are a year old, they should go into molt this fall/winter. Expect egg production to slow or stop during molt, it's also due to the loss of daylight hours.
    It's up to you whether you want to get Dizzy a buddy. Keep in mind that Dizzy will establish herself over her buddy...pecking order. Good luck.
     
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2012
  3. Den in Penn

    Den in Penn Chillin' With My Peeps

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    To keep the eggs coming, I'm adding new chicks every year. When the older hens moult the production drops and the pullets keep on laying their first year. And yes there may or not be a time in moult when the older hens just about stop. With more birds your bantam will have more potential friends. Size doesn't always mean anything between chickens.
     
  4. Kelly G

    Kelly G It's like herding cats!

    I do what Den does....I add new ones each spring that will lay right through my older girls moult. If I find myself with too many birds, I easily sell some of my two year olds on Craigs list - young enough to still lay for the new owners and makes room for my younger birds.
     
  5. AuburnChickenNewbies

    AuburnChickenNewbies Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hmmmm. Now I'm as confused as when I started. It does sound as though this is a personal decision. By counting up the number of chickens that Dawg and Kelly G have, that's a LOT of birds. One of the biggest concerns I had when we decided to start this venture was what to do with the older birds. A friend of mine says "there's nothing wrong with grandma chickens," my daughter says "we just eat them." I'm not too keen on the eating them thing. I'm afraid I've done my typical adopting thing, which is to name and make pets out of everything and anything.

    BUT, I do like the idea of having some birds continue to lay while others moult. (Thank you for the comment, Den) We just don't have the experience to know how that's going to happen. Hopefully the girls won't all go into moult at the same time.I need to also research a bit to figure out about how long I expect the girls to lay. Two years? Four? More?

    Kelly G, are you finding that you can rehome your chickens pretty easily on CL? Are they really going to someone's dinner table do you think?
     
  6. Kelly G

    Kelly G It's like herding cats!

    Hmmm....I have no trouble re-homing them (I sell them for $10-12 each). I don't ask what they plan to do with them...but I try to price them where they'd be a pretty expensive dinner (you can buy an awful lot of chicken at the grocery store for that same $10-12).

    The other thing I've done this year with my really nice birds (meaning - those that have been bred to meet the standard of perfection) is to offer them to 4-H kids at a really good price ($5 each) as long as they bring their active 4-H membership card...and I request that the kid be along for the purchase. I'm always glad to help a kid out.

    I also have given a friend of mine a couple of retirees each year - she has six right now. She even took one of my SLW roosters (we thought is was a pullet, but grew up to be a roo - his name is Tina, LOL!).

    So, the answer is - I have no trouble selling extras on Craigs List, I don't know for sure that they aren't ending up on someones table, but I suspect many people really do use the hens they buy from me as layers.

    Good luck! I'm glad to help more if I can...
     
  7. dawg53

    dawg53 Humble

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    You make a very good point. It can get out of control IF you let it. This is where flock management comes into play. It's up to the owner when to sell, give away, or cull birds at some point. I prefer taking older birds to the feed store to be adopted out. I have sold much younger birds in the past as well. I also dont want to be cleaning coops and pens all the time neither, especially during our hot summers. Dont get me wrong though, I currently have 5 birds that are just over 7 years old and still laying. They are keepers for the rest of their lives. I currently have 18 birds, very managable for me...that's my comfort level. (It's tempting to get more. Be careful, there's alot of enablers here in BYC lol.)
     
  8. Kelly G

    Kelly G It's like herding cats!

    HA! I am an enabler!! Guilty!!!

    However....our "farm" is in rural Florida, and we have three acres. I have three coops that are at least 8'x8' plus a 4'x4' coop for raising the babies. This entire setup is fenced in (60'x60') with a 6' high chain link fence...giving me enough room for 60+ chickens.

    My coops have a sand base....clean up is a cinch (I have horses, so my perspective may be skewed - and I AM cleaning stalls daily in our Florida heat - all summer long).

    I am not nearly at my capacity - I have about 30 chickens right now. I spend maybe 20 minutes each day cleaning waterers, filling feeders, etc. I strip out the coops about 4 times a year (I'd probably have to do it more if I were at full capacity). Stripping the coop takes about 20 minutes per coop. And I power wash the inside once a year (I hate all the spider webs!).

    I go through a 50lb bag of feed each 7 - 9 days, plus the get all our scraps from the house. Not much goes to waste.

    I also did some things in the coop area to make my life easier - I added auto waterers inside each coop (they stay cleaner inside as their run is under 4 large oak trees). 10 pound feeders inside each coop that I only have to fill about every other day (and it keeps the food dry from our daily Florida summer thunderstorms). Plus having feeders/waterers inside the coop allows for the chickens to have food/water access on those days where I'm late to let them out (our house is 2 miles from the farm).

    This whole thing started with the purchase of 6 barred rock chicks from our local feed store.

    Enjoy as many as you can comfortably take care of...with some small changes, taking care of 30 has been no more work than taking care of the first six.
     
  9. karlamaria

    karlamaria Chillin' With My Peeps

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    We have five that just turned one year old. It's been an awesome experience and we love our girls, but we have decided to add 2 or3 more girls ( being grown into pullets for us as I type lol) not into growing chicks right now, to much time and not enough hours in the day for us right now.
    8 is enough for our back yard, we have a nice large pen, and there loose all summer long in the yard. We have only gone thru a mini molt of a few girls so looking for that this fall, so the three added will lay fr us throug out the winter. Our astrolorps and buffs have been amazing, they have laid most of the winter since beginning to lay last August and September. We get an egg almost every day from our five girls! We are adding RIR to the mix so 8 total. Also adding some light and some warmth this next winter so we can continue egg production, next year I will be selli off the older girls if they slow down a lot. Add several more. If not they stay until the next year .
     
  10. dawg53

    dawg53 Humble

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    Hah! ENABLER !!! I like your honesty LOL.
     

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