I never expected to go this far

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by elite8, Aug 28, 2010.

  1. elite8

    elite8 Out Of The Brooder

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    May 16, 2010
    40/42 North Carolina
    So here is the story. Back in late February I got 6 'pullets'. Turned out to be 4 pullets and 2 cockerels...cuckoo marans. The others were 2 blrw, and 2 ameraucanas. Of course the ameraucanas were actually EE's. They are my favs btw. I wanted more than just four hens so I went and picked up two wellsummers. At this point they were all only four weeks old. My first lesson...birds that grow up together stick together. The wellsummers still sleep side by side away from the others most of the time. Always add at least two new birds. The two cockerels were fine with each other. One was definitely dominant over the other and matured much faster. He was crowing at just eight weeks and the other didn't until he was 16 weeks old. At that point the cockerels' hormones were flowing and they had gained more interest in the pullets. At about 18 weeks they were mounting and chasing down the pullets. Looked a little rough but I believe it was all part of a natural cycle. Unfortunately Mr. Dominance also began challenging people. When he tried me he learned quickly who the real boss was. More than once but he learned. What bothered me was the fact that he went after other people and I did not want kids to get hurt so I had no choice. Culled both of them.

    A couple weeks later I found an ad for black copper marans. They supposedly came from well known bloodlines that I had heard of. I picked up six of them. Not a good harvest day. Eventually I discovered that only one of them was a pullet. I was definitely learning more about sexing chicks. Well, I did not want to add just one hen to the original flock so I had to go pick up some more...got two buff orps. Very sweet breed might I add. Definitely more docile and friendly than the others. At this point I was already building a second coop. I had built a temporary pen for the marans and added a new section beside it for the buff orps. I was learning a lot about building coops. I found that 5-6 weeks of age is a good time to move them from brooder to coop and they were already past that point. At 7 weeks old I put the buff orps in the new coop. They were scared at first but got used to their new resort. I gave them about ten days and then transferred the single bcm pullet. She was very scared at first too but now they all get together just fine.

    So now I had three flocks. Not my original intention. This takes a lot of time and effort especially since I am working 10-11 hr days at work. The cockerels are all getting along just fine as brothers. About ten weeks old now and some are crowing. The original flock is doing great and loves free ranging. I have to be careful though as my dog has always been a predator type killing squirrels, rabbits, birds etc. She is doing good though. I can actually let her run free as long as I am close. I think that this has a lot to do with the fact that she got to watch all the chickens grow up and mature. She knows who they are and that her master would not be very happy if she caused a problem. But I must always remember that she will always have instinct. I continue to tell her that she always was and always will be number one. Hopefully I will not have to learn another depressing lesson. Today I spotted two hawks and some crows only about 100’ away when I was out in the back yard. Thanks to the crows, the hawks were kept busy and I was able to get the flock back to the coop safely.

    Next move? Today I transferred two of the cockerels to coop 2 with the three younger pullets. It was a hard decision to make on which ones to choose. I think that this action is a permanent one. I chose number 2 and 5 in the pecking order. Dominance will hopefully prevent fighting was my thought. They are now in a new environment with unknown hens and pullets. The runs for coop1 and coop2 share a fence line that they can all see through. I still plan on eventually having one flock. How they will treat the pullets is predictable. How will the cockerels treat each other? So far, so good. I checked on them earlier and they were all chilling in one corner of the run. Nice. Not sure about what I will do with the other cockerels. I will probably keep them for a while until I see what happens. So the final move will be moving those in coop2 to coop1 with the older hens. That will be a while though. I want the younger ones to get big enough and able to protect themselves if necessary. How will the hens treat the pullets? What will happen between the hens and cockerels? It will be interesting. What would happen if I brought one of the chosen ones back to the bachelor pad? I will say that I have gained a lot of knowledge in the past six months when I used to not know the difference between a hen and a pullet! Now that I have two coops I am sure there is more to come…breeding? Now that will be more than just another chapter. Tell me your experience…
     
  2. cobrien

    cobrien Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 16, 2009
    Oakland, CA
    sounds like you are doing great. did you quarantine the new birds before introducing them? my understanding is that it's best to keep them apart for 45 days to make sure you don't introduce a disease. all I can add to what you've learned is that both of my dogs have a strong prey drive, one of them has killed many rats, squirrels and even an opposum but the other is still only learning how to catch rats with my encouragement. Despite their prey drive, I have trained both dogs to be good around the chickens, and now I can leave them unattended with them as long as I don't mind the dogs eating poop:sick other than that I would keep doing what you're doing, if they all free range together it is a good step to fully integrating them. good luck!
     
  3. elite8

    elite8 Out Of The Brooder

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    May 16, 2010
    40/42 North Carolina
    Yeah, my dog seems to not mind eating that poop either. What she really likes is their feed. I did quarantine them. I only quaratined the buff orps for about 20 days though. The people I got them from were very cautious and that made me feel more comfortable. All is well though and none are sick. I'm glad to hear about how your dogs behave. Gives me better hopes for mine. That's a good idea about letting them all free range together before integration. We'll see what happens...thanks
     

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