Long Term Plan...

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by WYNot, Mar 19, 2013.

  1. WYNot

    WYNot Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 19, 2013
    Casstown, OH
    Currently have (5) three-week old pullets in the brooder. They'll have a fairly large coop once they go outside, 8'x12' with about 2/3 of it for them and the remaining space as storage for food, bedding, and such. There will be an enclosed run attached. They will be allowed out of the run if we are out in the yard working/relaxing.

    Long term plan is to start with these 5 to learn the ropes and get into the routine of taking care of chickens. What I'd like to do is to get another half dozen pullets next spring and introduce them to the flock. Repeat the spring after that. Then on the fourth spring (and every spring going forward) when the newest batch of half dozen pullets is introduced, cull the oldest "group" to the freezer. That way the max size of the flock at any given time is 18 laying hens (may eventually get a rooster) and this keeps the hens in egg laying "prime" and eventually puts a little extra meat in the freezer.

    Reasonable plan? Any issues with introducing new birds to the flock that way?
     
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    Instead of feeding the older hens through the winter after they have started molting and are no longer laying, I suggest you plan on removing them in the fall when they start the molt. There is a reasonable chance your pullets will lay through their first winter without molting, but every fall after that they should molt and stop laying eggs until the molt is finished. Why feed them through a molt and then remove them?

    With this change, your basic plan is what a lot of us try to do.

    Your biggest potential problem in integrating new chickens is lack of space. Chickens have developed ways to live in peace in a flock. A big part of that is if there is a conflict (which there will be when you bring in new chickens and they establish their place in the pecking order) the weaker one runs away or just avoids the stronger to start with. They need room to run and avoid.

    Your coop is a little tight but should work. I suggest adding extra roosts a bit lower and a bit separated from the main roosts. Most of my conflicts come on the roosts as they are settling in for the night, maybe because I have a lot of room for them when they are awake. That extra roost gives the weaker younger ones a place to go that is not inside your nests.

    The other suggestion is to make the run as big as you can stand. You’ll find when you integrate the young ones will be inside when the older ones are outside and vice versa. They are avoiding.

    Considering you are in Ohio, I’d try to make at least part of that run so snow cannot get in it. That means a roof plus side protection for part of it. That enables them to get outside in the winter which really helps in their behavior. Mine don’t mind the cold but they don’t like a cold wind hitting them and they usually are scared of snow for a day or two.
     
  3. WYNot

    WYNot Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 19, 2013
    Casstown, OH
    Thanks for the info. Great tip on the timing of the molt and the culling of the oldest "group". Had not even thought about that and definitely don't want to feed them any more/longer than I have to.

    Part of the run is roofed. The whole thing is caged in on top. We've heard owls outside in the evenings and there are definitely hawks in the area. Sides shouldn't be a problem to add. Some lattice and plastic sheeting will be easy enough to add between some posts in the winter to provide a wind break. Coop/run is already on the east side of the garage so gets some protection from the winds coming out of the West and Northwest.

    Never fails. As soon as I post something (anywhere) some new info comes to light. Might have to do some thinking on the plan.

    [​IMG]

    The 5 chicks currently in the brooder are Rhode Island Red pullets from the local farm store. Had planned on sticking with them as that is what the store carries every spring and they are supposed to be good dual-purpose birds. When I began researching keeping chickens I kept running across descriptions of Buckeyes and it seemed like the hand of fate was trying to tell me something. Being that they were developed here in/for Ohio and me being born/raised here in Ohio didn't hurt either. [​IMG] Unfortunately, the only places I could find them available for sale wanted stupid prices for them. Of course, last night I ran across one of BYC's sponsors (Ideal Chicken) that carries them at reasonable prices. Only problem is that with their minimum order and having them delivered I'd have to order more than 6 at a time.

    I suppose ordering the half-dozen or so pullets with the balance required to make minimum order and minimum safe shipping number being males wouldn't be such a bad thing. Would definitely get meat in the freezer sooner. Also have been mulling whether I want to keep a rooster as part of the flock. Don't plan on hatching chicks but from what I have been reading it is nice to have a rooster in the flock to help keep them organized/together and as an early warning system and little bit of extra protection when they are out and about the yard.

    Thanks for the response. Definitely some good ideas and stuff I hadn't thought of. I'm off to watch the babies for a bit while I noodle this out. Two weeks of cute and fuzzy and in the past few days I swear I can see the feathers on their wings and tail growing.
     
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2013

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