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Learning a lot = some confusion

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by peeplessinNC, Dec 18, 2008.

  1. peeplessinNC

    peeplessinNC Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oct 23, 2008
    NC Piedmont
    For the past several months I have been reading a lot of the posts here and I have learned so much - sometimes I even know the answer to a newbie's question, but I don't reply because I don't have any chickens yet.

    But all this new information has changed my outlook on raising chickens and how I *thought* I wanted to start out. Also, so many chicken illness emergencies and predator attacks posted at times have almost scared me off. But I'm an optimist and the kind of person who researches a new interest to death.

    Now to question #1: if you could build two runs attached to a large enough dual coop hen house, would it make sense to buy started pullets (that would be laying in 2-3 weeks) first and then in the spring buy day old chicks to raise up that would start laying several months later?

    Question #2: if you want to keep each flock to about 10 hens (no roos) should you buy a couple extra as insurance against any loss due to illness or predators?

    Question #3: is it better for the flock both phsychologically and physically to have the flock intact from the start and not add in other chickens piecemeal? And to have the chicks all the same age and contained in a separate coop and run from the big girls?

    Thanks in advance for any light you can shed on these issues. I bow [​IMG] to the community of poultry wisdom here.
     
  2. Renee

    Renee Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 7, 2008
    CALIFORNIA
    I have wondered the same things, so I will be interested in the replies.
    A few things to consider:
    Do you want to keep your hens past their laying prime?
    If so, would you want to get a few new chickens every year to keep up egg production?
    Are you thinking of selling eggs, or will they be for family use? Will you be eating your chickens?
    Renee
     
  3. ibpboo

    ibpboo Where Chickens Ride Horses

    Jul 9, 2007
    always changing
    That would be a good idea to get ready to lay hens, so you don't have too wait long.
    Different ages do not have to be kept separate. But always quarantine before adding new hens to existing ones. And keep an eye out for behavior that is too aggressive.
    Chickens really are fun!!
    Hurry and get started!!

    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2008
  4. BirdBrain

    BirdBrain Prefers Frozen Tail Feathers

    May 7, 2007
    Alaska
    You should be aware that if you buy started pullets you will most likely be getting birds with clipped beaks...these will never grow back. You should buy what you want to buy. If it were me, I would buy what looked the most interesting and then add more later (for that second run) once I learned a bit more and decided whether I really liked the personalities of the birds I bought to begin with. You might decide you like greater variety in colors (not all buff for instance). Or you may decide that the leghorns you thought you would love are too flighty. Take is slow. But if you dive in head first, you can always eat chicken and dumplings while you peruse the poultry catelog for replacements.

    They usually send an extra one or two for insurance on their part. One year I wanted to buy 6 cornish crosses. I decided that I really should buy a couple extra so I would have 6 at butcher time. They sent 2 extras along with warmers and I ended up with 10 cornish crosses and 5 black warmer birds that ended up being the stringiest toughest birds on record...the black birds were stringy---guess cochins were never meant to be eaten. [​IMG]

    If your original flock is not added too, there won't be so much possitioning once the pecking order is established, unless you have to pull some birds out for a time. When you put them back they will restablish a pecking order.

    Dive in head first...it all seems to work out okay. [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2008
  5. digitS'

    digitS' Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Dec 12, 2007
    ID/WA border
    There are about 6 or 7 responses to your questions and I think all would be both good and workable. But, here's some "extra" ideas:

    #1: If you are only interested in breaking up the start of the lay cycles by "several months" - I think you may be fine with chicks at both times. It depends on what and when chicks are available to you and your set-up at home for brooding but they can be spaced out quite a few months during late Winter and Springtime.

    #2: I haven't lost a single chick the last 3 batches . . . thunk, thunk, thunk (knocking on wood [​IMG]). I think it was 25 in one batch but there were 35 and 11 in the other two. Still, having extras as insurance appeals to my insecurity [​IMG].

    #3: I really do think it is easier to keep flocks intact without additions. Yes, all of the chicks of the same age works well. And, I'll go one farther - - all the same breed. These things aren't, at all, essential. They just make it easier.

    Some may think that would be terribly "limited" to go this route. But, just imagine 6 separate pens of Plymouth Rocks in the following varieties: Barred, White, Buff, Partridge, Silver Penciled, and Columbian. Or 4 pens of Orpingtons in Black, Blue, Buff, and White.

    Maybe it's just me but that sure looks like fun [​IMG]!

    Steve
     
  6. chickenannie

    chickenannie Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Nov 19, 2007
    Pennsylvania
    Now to question #1: if you could build two runs attached to a large enough dual coop hen house, would it make sense to buy started pullets (that would be laying in 2-3 weeks) first and then in the spring buy day old chicks to raise up that would start laying several months later?

    - yes, I like having more than one pen because then you can buy more and add them to the second pen, and in case you haven't noticed, raising chickens is addictive!

    Question #2: if you want to keep each flock to about 10 hens (no roos) should you buy a couple extra as insurance against any loss due to illness or predators?

    Yes, I would, especially if you're a beginner.

    Question #3: is it better for the flock both phsychologically and physically to have the flock intact from the start and not add in other chickens piecemeal? And to have the chicks all the same age and contained in a separate coop and run from the big girls?


    Flocks can adapt to new members but they have to go through a "re-establishing" of the pecking order, which means every time you bring in new ones, there will be several days of fighting, which is unpleasant for everyone.

    Same age is not as important as same size. Because big chickens always pick on littler chickens. Make sure you have 2 feeders and waterers for that reason because the big bad ones can dominate the feeders and not let the littler ones ever get a bite.
     
  7. allisojo

    allisojo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Nov 16, 2008
    Nuevo Mexico
    In my very limited experience (two flocks over the past five years - first flock lost to dogs), here's what I've done: I've never hatched chicks, and I've never bought any chick younger than 4-weeks-old (feathered out). I have, however, always purchased at least 20% more than I wanted because even though sexed young'uns will be marketed as pullets, some will be roos. I've also lost a few (see above). So...buy more than you need. Your neighbors and friends will want the eggs anyway.

    Also, I haven't had a problem mixing breeds or ages, so long as you quarantine before mixing and make sure the birds are roughly the same sizes. It'll take a week for them to sort out who's the boss and who's the gopher, but that's all right. As someone said earlier, dive in. It'll all work out, really. Good luck!
     
  8. NCchickenlady

    NCchickenlady Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 4, 2008
    raleigh
    Hi,
    I 'm vERY new in this but thought i would try and answer a few questions.

    I started out with 4 silkie pullets. I was worried about getting babies and ending up with roosters so I'm a pullet seeker [​IMG]
    I love silkies and so that was my main interest BUT I started seeing other chickens and wanted a few more and started looking for eggs of many colors. I added a white silkie, 2 more silkies and a silkie/ ee mix, 2 more ee's and then 2 cuckoo marons . They all get along and I did do the holding thing as to not make anyone ill. These are all pullets from 2months to 6 months of age. The cuckoo's are a little bossy but the one silkie keeps everyone in line!! I added all the birds in the evening so everyone would wake up together and with a little pecking order, all has been well [​IMG]
    Good luck with your flock and enjoy!!! BUILD BIG on the coop!! These guys get under your skin!!!!
     
  9. ella

    ella Chillin' With My Peeps

    Whatever you decide to do, don't worry too much. All of your plans are well thought out and would work beautifully. Just go with what would be easiest. [​IMG]

    There are a thousand ways to raise and manage a flock and until you get them you won't really know what's going to work for you.

    As for illnesses and predators, it can be intimidating, but don't worry! Just deal with each issue as it comes and it'll all work out. You have all of us to help you through. [​IMG]
     
  10. Akane

    Akane Overrun With Chickens

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    I haven't found adding new chickens to be stressful. Some of it depends a bit on the breeds and individual chickens. I keep adding more to the coop as they hatch and have had no problems. No fights. A moment of the older ones sizing up the new and that's it. I started with 2 japanese bantams, added 6 japs of another color 2 months later, 3 EE pullets shortly after that, and recently 7 standard mutts which I believe are 5 pullets and 2 roos. I didn't pen any of them up seperate in the coop. Just turned them loose in the afternoon and kept an eye on them. They are all really laid back chickens and just keep to their own groups in the coop and run until they mix with the rest of the flock.

    If you are building sturdy runs your odds of predators are lower. Personally with free ranging I plan to keep at least one extra roo of each breed and one extra hen of each breed and color so if something should happen I can hatch some more of what I want.
     

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