Intergrating New Flock Members

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by gettinaclue, Jan 30, 2011.

  1. gettinaclue

    gettinaclue Chillin' With My Peeps

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    We're rolling around to that time of year where most of us are thinking of adding to our flocks, and I am no exception. I have searched this thread and haven't come up with anything to clear on what I want to do and really need some advice.

    We built our coop and run for 8 chickens. We purchased 10 expecting at least 2 of the chicks to die. All 10 lived to adulthood and laid good eggs. We eventually lost one for some unknown reason in the early fall. The rest of the flock of 9 ladies have been perfectly healthy the entire time since and I have been getting about 4-6 eggs a day every day...except when it snows LOL (I only get two then. The snow really seems to put them off).

    Coming to the point.. I want a rooster and a few silkies. I am currently contemplating which breed of rooster, but have settled on two contenders - Easter Egger or Buff Orpington roos. I have no worries on adding the rooster to my current set up. We let the chickens free range quite a little bit and we have also already had 10 full grown chickens in the coop and it was just fine. What is your advice here? Is there another breed of rooster you recommend? Keep in mind, if he is to aggressive, I will eat him. I have two children, one of which is only 5 and loves picking up the chickens and chasing the chickens, and in general, being 5 years old. It must be a docile breed.

    My concern is also for the silkies. I don't want them to be hen pecked to death - due to space issues/stress, and I'm afraid this would be a real possibility?

    Do you feel this is a valid concern? and what advice can you give on integrating/housing them with the rest of the flock. Should I set up a mini coop of sorts and simply expand the run to accomodate them all - having the mini coop open into a communal run? I would really like them to be in with the rest of the flock if at all possible. Would the rooster have a problem with this - all of his ladies not living in the same abode?

    The point of the new additions is of course, to raise chickens...to eat. I am most comfortable with this method in providing our family with a fresh, healthy, humanly treated meat. The rooster to do "his duty" and the silkies to hatch the eggs and raise the chicks. Also, these chicks will replace any egg layers that die. My current 9 ladies (several different breeds) are pets, and are named, but I am aware that chickens die, and I don't see the need to buy a new hen when I can just move one of the chicks hatched by the silkies up into an egg layer position so to speak, should that happen.

    I am uncertain of the number of silkies I should acquire for this venture as well. I know at least 4. I will raise 2 of them to go to a family member, so they will only be temporary residence. For this first year, I am not particularly concerned with high production, I just want to get the feel for everything and go from there, but would also like to maximize any output (meaning how many eggs can a silky brood at once and how long until I can give her another clutch?) I'm just feeling around and am uncertain how to go about doing this.

    Any thoughts you have would be greatly appreciated.
     
  2. gettinaclue

    gettinaclue Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Anyone?
     
  3. abqferreira

    abqferreira Out Of The Brooder

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    Well, I'm hardly an expert since we have only had chickens for a year now, but here is my experience. We have had several sets of new birds join the main flock. Each time, they seem to be put in their place, and usually they end up segregating into a new subgroup. As they get older and bigger, they work their way into the hierarchy. Our original group included 3 Banties who are pretty high in the pecking order, even when they can barely reach the larger but younger bird they are trying to bully!

    It seems to take 3-6 months but eventually they all settle down into their new ranking. I guess if the Silkies are being bullied you could always build a new coop for them if it's just not working out. There's always the chance that the new roo would side with the Silkies if they were introduced together and might protect them?

    Good luck!
     
  4. gettinaclue

    gettinaclue Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks abq! I am anticipating the initial stress and strife, but want to make sure I'm doing this correctly. I don't want to crowd or do something idiotic LOL.
     
  5. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    There are general tendencies with breeds but how docile or aggressive roosters are is really an individual thing. I've heard plenty of stories on here of people handling a rooster every day when it was growing up and it was the sweetest thing. There have been plenty of stories where the exact opposite is true. I can't tell you if it is better to handle him, or have your daughter handle him, or not.

    EE's are not a breed. They are a type. EE's are simply chickens with the blue egg gene. They can be crossed with any breed and really don't have that much as far as tendencies. It depends on what they are crossed with. If you are looking for meat and docile tendencies, I'd look more to the Buff Orpington. Buff Orps tend to be larger than EE's, so better for meat. Any of these dual purpose breeds would probably work out, Delaware, Australorp, Sussex, Rocks, or Wyandottes. I'm sure I am omitting some. I'd stay away from the Rhode Island Red rooster. Some people have RIR's that would meet your criteria, but they have a reputation of being aggressive.

    I don't know how big your current coop and run are. If you built your original coop with the minimum space for 8 chickens and you put it more, you could have problems. The more space you can provide, the better. Setting up a separate coop that ties into the common run is certainly not a bad idea. Maybe even provide a run area that can be sectioned off for the new coop use only, yet a gate so they can be combined if you so desire. When your silkies are integrated, they will probably tend to stay in their old digs for a while, but don't be surprised if they move in with the big girls. This would also give you a good space for temporarily housing chickens separate but next to the flock, say if a chicken needed to be isolated for injury treatment or maybe a broody area or a grow out pen for juveniles.

    I'm not sure how you plan to acquire the silkies. Raise them from chicks? Sexing them may be a problem. Something to consider. I don't have them so I can't tell you how many full sized eggs they can brood. As far as how often, I'd say as often as they go broody. I'm not sure what your plans are for raising the chicks. I let my broodies raise them with the flock. If they hatch a brood and raise them they will recover a lot while raising the chicks and should go back to laying a while before they go broody again. Each hen is an individual and you really don't know if she will ever go broody or not, but silkies do have a reputation for going broody a lot.

    Hope this helps some. Good luck!
     
  6. gettinaclue

    gettinaclue Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks for the input Ridgerunner!

    I hadn't thought of putting a gate up. Very good idea! That would definately be useful if I ever needed to seperate (as you pointed out) and have worried about it a bit since I don't currently have anything set up for that.

    Yes, I have read about the different behaviors are more of a case by case basis, but was hoping to get...well, I was hoping to get a specific answer LOL. I guess I was hoping someone would wave their magic egg and tell me there was a specific breed that would eventually lead to colored eggs in my flock, be a good duel purpose bird AND be docile and people loving. Yes, apparently I float down da-nile with rose colored glasses in my own fantasy land LOL.

    I do agree with you about staying away from the Rhode Island Red Roos. Hubby had one of those and so did his uncle and both were incredibly agressive and would flog anyone if they felt like it. His uncles was some sort of mutant apparently - by the stories he tells - it was 3 feet tall and had spurs so sharp and long, they would glint in the sun with the roo cackling evilly while purching on a fence post, a piece of hay wedged firmly in, yet hanging lazily from his oily beak. LOL. Yes, hubby was flogged by him several times when he was about 7 or so. As funny as he makes it sound, I don't want my 5 yr old son, my 12 yr old daughter, or anyone else to have this experience.

    I'm not quite sure on where to acquire the silkies. My initial thoughts are to go to a chicken swap somewhere and see about acquiring some there - but first need to have some sort of isolation coop/run set up before I integrate so I don't have to worry about spreading mites or disease.

    Are chicken swaps a good place to acquire silkies? or should I look somewhere else?
     
  7. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    My one EE roo (was supposed to be female) was one of the meanest roos I've ever had. BO's seem to be pretty universally docile. My best roo was a Black Australorp. They are quite similar to orps (they were originally an orp cross of some sort) in size and eating, and they lay very, very well.

    If I ever get chickens to brood it will NOT be silkies as to me they are inedible; I don't want to eat black meat, and they are small. I will get Kraienkoppes again. Ideal carries them; don't know who else does. They match Silkies in brooding and mothering, are very tame and friendly, and are edible. They run about 6 lbs. A lot of people find it necessary or more peaceful to keep Silkies in separate quarters from DP's. Kraienkoppes do fine in with DP's.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 31, 2011
  8. gettinaclue

    gettinaclue Chillin' With My Peeps

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    ddawn,

    Thank for your input! I have never heard of Kraienkoppes. The object of the silkies is to brood the eggs - since I have read they are really broody - but not to breed them.

    I'm going to look into Krainenkoppes. Thanks for that suggestion!

    I have also heard of the black Australorpe, but had not considered them for the roo. I have heard mostly about the hens and not roos of this breed. I will do some checking into that as well.

    Thanks very much!
     

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