Least traumatic way to expand a flock of chicks

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by texas_chick, Feb 27, 2009.

  1. texas_chick

    texas_chick Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 26, 2009
    My mail order chick experience didn't turn out so well. I used the small order program with heat packs and overnight shipping but everything got delayed and only 3 of my 5 chicks survived - so far.

    I mail ordered in the first place to ensure I get only pullets because I will get in trouble with the HOA if I get roosters.
    I am not doing the mail order thing again though.

    So I am down to 3 chicks. [​IMG]
    I would eventually like to have 4 or 5 hens.

    What would be the least traumatic (for my current chicks) way to end up with that many chickens (hens)?

    I saw somebody locally advertise for chicks (guess sexed - not professionally sexed of course LOL) and she even has true Ameraucaunas (blue, white, black and splash).

    She will have more eggs hatching in the next few days so the age difference between my chicks and hers would be about 1 week (mine would be older than hers).

    She also has older chicks (5 weeks old - 4 weeks older & 2 weeks old - 1 week older than mine).

    What would be the gentlest way to increase my flock?

    Should I look for more chicks now while mine are little too?
    Should I wait until mine are a few weeks older?
    Should I get more when mine are completely grown?

    Would it be possible to guess the sex better when the birds are in the 5 week range?

    At this point finding the least traumatic way to increase my flock takes priority over sexing accuracy.

    I am hoping it might be easier to find a home for a pure bred rooster anyway if the sexing didn't turn out correct?

    I was going to wait but I read through the forum and it sounded like people generally thought younger chicks would adapt better to new additions.

    How about adding some similarly aged birds when mine are ready to move from the brooder to the coop?

    What are your thoughts on this?
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2009
  2. vermontgal

    vermontgal Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sorry to hear that your mail order chicks didn't all make it. [​IMG]

    I got my chicks a week a part from the feed store. 2 one week, and 2 the next. They were all supposed to arrive together, but that didn't happen. The first two chicks were both orangy-red. The second two chicks were both black. First I tried introducing them together - that did not work. The bigger orange ones went after the smaller black ones' toes.

    I put them in the same brooder with a chicken-wire wall in between.

    Then, after a day or two, I put them together outside, inside my square plastic composter (the suburban type of composter). They were all distracted by the compost and the bugs in the compost, and did not peck each other. Yes, even at 2-3 days old, they like bugs! Then, I brought them inside together for the evening after a day outside. They were fine. This is similar to introducing dogs -- better to do it outside where there are other things to focus on. [​IMG]

    You might not have the same option if it is cold where you are. This worked for me.

    I have not tried introducing adults or older chicks but it always sounds harder than what I experienced with my week-old and day-old chicks. It probably helped that there were equal numbers.

    Depending on what kind of chickens your local person has, there are some breeds that you can feather-sex as day-olds. It is the vent-sexing that is very tough to do. For example, I now know that you can be mostly sure of getting a female barred rock if you look for: a dark splash on the front of the legs, and a small, concentrated white dot on the head. Males will have less dark on the legs, and their white dot will be larger and/or "diffuse" - with the white feathers blending into the black ones over a larger area. All the chickens called "sex links" are color coded at birth as to sex.

    I don't know how to feather-sex any other breeds; I only know about BR because I have 2 of them.

    Hope this helps.
  3. chookchick

    chookchick Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 18, 2008
    Olympia WA
    Yep, I'd go out right away and get more chicks. Call all the feedstores and see what they have or are getting. If you are not too picky, some of the breeds and definitely sex-links can be sexed as chicks. The Ameraucanas you mentioned are apparently very hard to sex as chicks. It's hard to get rid of roos when you've raised them, so do your best to get pullets, and integrate them as young as possible, if you definitely want a bigger flock. Integrating older chickens is sooo much harder.
  4. texas_chick

    texas_chick Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 26, 2009

    that's excellent advice!
    I passed on the Ameraucauna. I couldn't find sex links but I did find a super nice breeder of Marans close by and so I ended up with 3 really dark Cuckoo Marans chicks with hopes of them being girls.
    1 is about 3 days younger than my chicks, the other two are about 7 days older than my chicks but all seem to get along fine, eating adn sleeping together, etc.
  5. PetalumaChicken

    PetalumaChicken New Egg

    Jan 13, 2009
    Petaluma, California
    I had 2 black minorca 8 month old layers and bought a cuckoo maran, buff brahma, dominique, and americauna all 3 months old. I divided my chicken pen with wire, created a new roost for the newbies and let them live side by side for another 6 weeks. Then at night i took down the barrier and placed the newbies in the old coop on roosts near the oldies. The next day there was some abuse from the dominant minorca for a while. I kept the chicken yard stocked for 2 days with heavy doses of scratch and their favorite yard greens to keep them distracted. there has been some domination pecking and a little fighting, but no homicidal attacks and no blood and they seem to be working things out. I don't expect them ever to be good buddies, but if they can live together and produce it should work.
  6. ThePolishPrincess

    ThePolishPrincess Chillin' With My Peeps

    I've integrated my two lone banty chicks, when they were only a few weeks old, into my adult flock last year. It was very successful and no one even drew blood.

    I placed some of my younger bother's LARGE, COLORFUL plastic toys in the run. The flock was so into investigating the new objects in their living space, they didn't even notice the little chicks' presence. The babies even had the toys to hide behind and play with, which encouraged them to get to know their new surroundings. Proir to this, I took the two out to meet and get used to their new family when they were fully feathered and had me to protect them. This won't work if the chicks were meeting the adults for the first time.

    But the toys distracted the adults, and let's face it, we all know chickens aren't the *smartest* creatures. They even hid in the coop most of the day because they were fearful of these new objects. I've heard that putting in a potted plant, so long as it's distracting, will work, too. Anything that is new and they haven't seen before, really.

    I kept the toys in for about a week and a half until the chick didn't need them anymore. After that everything was fine, and almost a year later, still is.
  7. PetalumaChicken

    PetalumaChicken New Egg

    Jan 13, 2009
    Petaluma, California
    Bless you, PolishPrincess and may your flocks flourish. I had integrated 4 newbies with 2 first year layers by the method of separating them in the same pen for 6 weeks first. It sorta worked with a fair amount of nonhomicidal fighting, chasing newbies, preventing newbies from getting at food, and keeping them cowered in the coop by blocking the door. But no sooner did i put a couple of gaudy plastic kid toys and a toy mirror into the pen, then all that stopped. There is only the minor occasional pecking order peck. Interestingly the oldies have slowed down their laying. May be a bit stressed. Hope that's temporary. When i'm sure they have banded together I'll take out the toys.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by