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Integrating my flock today (Pics of setup included)

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by cstronks, Aug 2, 2014.

  1. cstronks

    cstronks Songster 5 Years

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    Wish me luck BYC...I'll be integrating 8-10 Australorp and Rhode Island Red pullets into my flock of 5 hens (Buff Orpingtons, Minorca, and Red Sex Link) in a few hours. I'm slated to pick up the birds at 10, and then the process begins. I have read up plenty and prepared my chicken house for this. The coop and run has already been split up into two different parts, both of which have the same amenities. I designed this coop with a flock expansion in mind, as I created two exits from the coop to the run, not just one. This makes it easy to split the house right down the middle. Anyways, I know the ages are different, so I plan on letting the pullets grow to about 14 weeks of age before even attempting to integrate both groups. This will give them about a month of side by side time with no contact. I am hoping that they can get used to each other just enough to prevent serious violence. Also, I am getting quite a few new hens, and since I only have 5, I think the large number helps. Hopefully one or two chickens cannot be singled out and bullied because there will be so many new birds. I'll keep BYC updated regarding the progress of the integration, with what works and what doesn't, and I will be taking advice the whole time!

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    Here is my new coop (left) next to my old coop on the right. It clearly dwarfs the other in size and has plenty of space for the chickens to move around (and me when I clean). Moved the chickens in about a month ago.

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    Here is the separation on the outside of the coop. I used green garden fencing that is available at most of the big box stores and green t-posts (all of which came from my garden) to create separation. I then used some garden staples to secure the fencing into the ground to prevent any tunneling over where the new birds are. Here are four of my five hens pictured, as one decided to lay an egg when I was taking this. The separation on the inside of the coop is extremely similar, as it is made out of one of the old walls of the chicken run. The back of the coop is not completely finished, as I plan on adding white molding around the exits from the coop to the run.

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    Here is a picture after I added the new hens to the coop! Don't worry, I added the food and waterer moments after I put them into the coop. I purchased four Rhode Island Reds, Four Australorps, and one partridge rock hen (very pretty feathering). My hens look completely unfazed by the arrival of the new birds because I bribed them with oats and mealworms for this picture. They have taken well though, and don't seem to be showing any signs of interest or discomfort at their new flock mates. The pullets are 10 weeks and relatively calm. Jumpy and slightly skittish, but not hard to grab if you need to pick one up. I held them before when I checked them and released them into the run. I have also installed a smaller roost on the inside of their portion of the run for the pullets to sleep on. I would say the pullets are 2/3 the size of my current birds, so after a month they should be able to be integrated without having the pullets at a major disadvantage.
     
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2014
  2. iwiw60

    iwiw60 Crowing

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    Boy, it sure sounds like you've done your homework! Sounds great! My little flock are Black Australorps..the love of my life! Keep us updated as to your progress!!
     
  3. 21hens-incharge

    21hens-incharge Enabler Premium Member

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    Wondering about quarantine time. Do you plan to quarantine the new hens or just in they go?
    A little concerned that if you get a sick chicken it could take everyone out. Chickens like most prey animals hide symptoms very well.
     
  4. cstronks

    cstronks Songster 5 Years

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    Luckily the farm that I bought them from set my hens aside for about a week, so they weren't exposed to anything aside from each other. Also, the birds are vaccinated, so I am hoping that the vaccines can help to minimize any damage by disease. The pullets I have are lively and very healthy. I combed them each over for parasites, and aside having a few pine shavings stuck in some feathers, they were clean as a whistle. While I respect quarantining, I have to be realistic. My property does not allow me to have two separate areas for chickens, and I would have had nowhere to house them. I couldn't afford to make new housing either. Thankfully the pullets I bought today were separated from the rest of their flock for a week, so any diseases or symptoms should have been weeded out, or at least noticed. Big Dog Farm's (extremely small operation in northern NJ that specializes in heritage breeds sold me the birds) owner was very knowledgable and knew what to look for with regards to disease. I'll take him at his word, but I'm highly confident in his capabilities. He also said to call or come back with any issues whatsoever, so I am sure that any problems would be immediately rectified. I'll take it step by step, but so far the process has been great. I plan on posting pictures shortly.
     
  5. 21hens-incharge

    21hens-incharge Enabler Premium Member

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    Sounds like you got them from a good source. Congrats!
    Looking forward to updates and of course pics of the new gals.
    I am glad he was able and willing to segregate them for you.
     
  6. cstronks

    cstronks Songster 5 Years

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    Mar 12, 2013
    New Jersey
    A quick update -

    Had problems with the australorps...more or less bullied the Rhode Island Reds into a nesting box and they wouldn't move! Called the farm that I got the chickens from and we swapped the four australorps for Rhode Island Reds and Partridge Rocks. I am really disappointed that I am losing such a great laying hen, however the Rhode Islands are nothing to turn your nose up at when it comes to laying and now the birds are much happier. I have 7 RIR and 2 PR. All are eating and drinking well, so they will grow stronger and prepare themselves for the real integration with my existing flock in the coming weeks.

    Roosting has been a slight issue. I had to individually place every pullet on the roost last night as they are sleeping on the floor. It took some time, but I am hoping to see at least half of the pullets jump onto the roost come sundown tonight.

    Overall, the process is going well. With the exception of the australorp issue (now resolved) my hens have been happy and showed no signs of illness or discomfort. My existing flock also doesn't seem to be showing any angst towards the new birds. Hopefully the pecking order is established quickly when we actually integrate the entire coop.
     

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