Introducing new birds to the flock

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by mommissan, Feb 11, 2012.

  1. mommissan

    mommissan Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I read all the time about how to properly introduce new birds; quarantine, separation pens, 30 days.....

    Does anyone out there just toss new birds in and hope for the best? If you did, what was the outcome?

    I just did today and I'm wondering how much I'll regret doing this. The first 8 hours went okay so far. I know better,[​IMG] but I just got lazy. I plopped 2 new roosters and a hen in, as if they fell from outer space. The new boys are the two tall dark and handsome ones in the back. the hen ducked down because she's shy. The girls like them. I don't blame them.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2012
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    I don't bring in new chickens and just plop them in, but that is just me because of biosecurity reasons. It's not that I know something bad will happen if I do, just that I don't need to risk it, so I don't. Why take unnecessary risks? I get hatching eggs or baby chicks from a reputable hatchery when I add new blood.

    There are plenty of people that take chickens to shows and do not quarantine them when they get back. There are plenty of people that go to chicken swaps and such and don't quarantine or isolate.

    To put it in terms of a formal risk assessment, what are the odds of something bad happening and, if something bad happens, how bad is it? We each assign our own levels to both sides of that equation. To me, the odds of your chickens getting something that will wipe out your flock are pretty small. It just does not happen that often, but when it does happen, it can be devastating. Some people consider their chickens as pets and almost part of the family. Some have worked a long time on the genetics. Some depend on a large flock for income. Some people would sterilize and start over, not a big deal. So just how devastating your flock getting wiped out would be to you varies with each of us.

    The odds of you getting a disease or parasite that will not wipe out your flock but that can be treated are higher. It still does not happen that often and when it does happen, it is not devastating to most of us. Many of us would consider it more of an inconvenience. But some people would really freak out at the thought of their babies getting a parasite and needing treatment.

    When I integrate young brooder-raised chicks, I basically just turn them loose with the flock. They have been raised where they can all see each other, and I think that helps, but I also think if you have plenty of space, that does not matter that much. If space is tight, I think it matters a lot more.

    The way I look at most of the recommendations on this forum, they are guidelines, not absolute laws of nature. They are intended to cover practically any situation for practically anyone and keep them out of trouble. They are over the top for most of us, but they are intended to keep practically all of us out of trouble, even if we do some things wrong.

    An example is the temperatures in a brooder for young chicks. I don't know where your brooder is located, how drafty it is, how many chicks you have in there, anything like that. If you rigidly follow the guidelines, your chicks will survive. But in almost all occasions, they don't really need those temperatures. I have a fairly large brooder and just keep one area warm. The rest cools off way below the recommended temperatures. They spend a lot of time in the cooler areas and do fine. I don't even measure the temperature in the warm area. I just keep one area warm enough and let them choose their comfort zone. But by their nature, some people have to have and follow rigid numbers. And when you are just starting out, it really helps to have numbers to go by.

    So what have you done to your flock, in my opinion? From a disease viewpoint, you have put them at risk, but probably not that high a risk, especially for something serious. Definitely watch them pretty closely for the next month, but don't panic. From an integration viewpoint, sometimes it goes so smoothly you don't know what all the worry was about and sometimes chickens die. Usually, and especially if you have some room, there is some pecking, maybe minor fighting, but if you leave them alone, they'll sort it out without any real harm.
     
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  3. mommissan

    mommissan Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks Ridgerunner. I got my original birds from a filthy filthy farm. I snuck around back and saw where they hid the "ugly" birds. There were swollen eyes, tumor ridden bodies and lame limbs everywhere. I bought them anyway and gave them the best home I could. Now that I've spent more time (too much according to DH) learning, I'm definitely not going back to that farm. [​IMG]

    I brought new roosters in because I wanted to prevent more inbreeding in the birds I had. (My sister-in-law doesn't understand why I stewed 5 perfectly good roosters that I had already only to go out and get two more) The roosters and hen I brought home yesterday came from another backyard flock of similar size and from an owner that is more experienced than I. Our conversations about chickens led me to believe that she is nothing less than immaculate with her flock. If I had more vested, I would certainly be more cautious. I plan on hatching more this spring. I'll heed your advice on how to integrate them into the flock. I'm planning at least one new 10'x10' coop, or two if I had my dithers.

    I had everything planned out but when I went to put them in their quarantine pen, nothing was where I planned and I saw many problems with my setup that I didn't consider before. I had to put the new birds somewhere, so I just decided to bag my original plans and cut them loose. I knew I was going against the grain when I dropped them in. I envisioned that they would spontaneously combust and I would return to small piles of ashes in the coop this morning. I feel less anxious after your response. I will be better prepared next time. I'll keep a close eye on them and watch for any problems.
     
  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    There are a couple of reasons I'm not a huge fan of quarantine as generally recommended on this forum. A flock can have a disease and spread a disease but show no signs of that disease itself. Some flocks develop an immunity to a disease and no matter how long you quarantine them, they will never show signs. The quarantine as recommended on this forum does a few things. It checks for diseases the chickens have been exposed to in the past few days or maybe a couple of weeks. It checks for diseases the previous owners did not recognize or did not tell you about. It is possible, though I consider this unlikely, that the stress of moving and quarantining the birds will weaken their immunity system enough that you can see symptoms. There are some benefits to quarantine, but in many cases, the benefits are limited. I think it gives the person a false sense of security.

    The other thing, and the one I think you might need to watch for after the additional information in your last post, is that your flock may be the one with the immunity and be carriers of a disease. It is possible the new birds will get sick because your birds infect them. So don't just watch your old birds, and if the new birds get sick don't assume it is because they brought something with them.

    I'm not anti-quarantine. I think it is a great tool if used right. But to me a true quarantine is not just to house them separate enough that one flock cannot scratch their droppings into the others area, but far enough apart that they don't share air. Some diseases are transmitted through the air. Don't wear the same shoes when tending to each flock. Don't keep their feed in the same storage containers and don't use the same bucket to carry food or water to each flock. Truly keep them separated. Choose a potentially sacrificial member of your current flock and put it with the new chickens. This checks to see if either flock has a disease they are immune to but could transmit. Even this won't catch everything, but I think it gives you a much more thorough quarantine. But you need the facilities to do this and it is inconvenient.

    The more rigid you are with your quarantine the more effective it will be. But there are still benefits to a casual quarantine, just not as many.

    Remember, I don't bring in new older chickens because of the biosecurity thing, but I'm not paranoid about it. I just don't see a need for me to take the risk when I don't have to.
     
  5. mommissan

    mommissan Chillin' With My Peeps

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    That is something to consider. It didn't occur to me that my birds could be the dirty ones. Given the conditions they came from, they are likely the hotbed of pathogens I'm trying to avoid. I'll be watching everyone very closely. Thanks.
     
  6. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Chicken Obsessed

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    The new chickens I've gotten lately were from a friend. I get them periodically from her, and bring them home and put them in the coop at night so they all wake up with each other. They're not stupid - they still know there's a stranger in their midst, but they do seem to integrate without too much of a problem. Obviously, I'm not as concerned about biosecurity as I should be. I'm not breeding, showing or selling. It's just a farmyard flock and I take my chances. Now if I were to go to a swap meet, show, or some other place were I don't know where the chickens have been, or what their living conditions were, I'd probably quarantine.
     
  7. mommissan

    mommissan Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I'm not either. Reality is they aren't even producing enough eggs to justify their means. I doubt I'll ever show or breed them for sale. I'm still experimenting.

    It's been 3 days now and adding them actually seemed to improve the flock's demeanor. The hens love having strong roosters around. They all spend a lot more time outside the coop. My "wussy" roo is even happier. It's like the pressure's off him and no one expects him to dominate anyone or anything. He's happy just "coasting". The new hen is even happier. The roosters were mating her way too much before, since the flock they came from was 6 roos and 4 hens. She finally gets a break.

    Well, I'll be watching for diseases and parasites, and in the meantime, the flock is quite peaceful...... for now.
     
  8. hannakat

    hannakat Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Interesting. I just added 2 adult birds to my flock of 4. Put them all in the coop at night but the 4 are still giving the 2 new birds a run for their money :(

    I remember last year when my 2 young birds decided they wanted in the 'adult' coop with the 2 one-year old birds. Boy what a commotion. The 2 older girls would chase them out and the 2 younger birds would climb back in!

    We just got done with a slightly bigger coop and run so I could add some more chickens. It took a couple weeks last year and I'm thinking it'll take some time now. Wish they'd just say 'hi' and get on with it!

    soooo, I'm wondering if I choose to get a roo....he might just drop in from outer space too!!!
     
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2012
  9. mommissan

    mommissan Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Maybe it has something to do with age? My flock will be a year old in April. The roos I added are only 6 months old. The person who gave me the Barnevelders told me "you'll never figure out chicken psychology" Boy was she right! Even she was surprised at how smoothly it went.

    hannakat, are those all girls you have? My girls fought amongst each other much more before. Now, when an "argument" starts among the girls, a roo will come over and step on one of them- ends the discussion right away. They really took charge of the flock.
     
  10. MaxHamer

    MaxHamer New Egg

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    I just plopped some new birds into the flock today!

    In one run.
    I already had 9 warrens & two black rocks all hens.
    I added 3 silver laced wyandottes (2 cocks and a hen) + 3 more black rocks (all hens).
    There was a lot of fighting to establish the pecking order but they stopped after a few hours & were alright with each other.
    It didn't stop them laying their eggs on that day because I got 5 eggs & I usually get three before the new hens came. Just waiting til I catch them mating now so I can hatch out some nice chicks :)

    In the other run I already had 3 welsummer bantams that are beautiful!
    I added 3 white silkies which are also gorgeous (not sure about sex of any of the chucks) & they got on really well they are really cute together :)

    It just shows you the differences between the big birds & the small birds!
     

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