Merging 2 flocks

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Colin Fow, Dec 1, 2014.

  1. Colin Fow

    Colin Fow Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hi all I have seen a few posts about introducing new birds to an existing flock here and there but this is slightly different and i have a few questions , the first flock is a little older but not yet fully mature , they should reach sexual maturity at around xmas and there is 38 chickens in this flock , around 15 roos and 23 hens , the second flock is about 4 weeks younger and there is 97 chickens in it but i have not yet counted roos and hens , but about 50/50 split , they have each got their own coops and out door runs but we do let them out to forage every now and then in open space on the farm , i have on the odd occasion had some of the younger ones get out of their runs while the older ones are free ranging and i have had no fighting what so ever , the questions are , 1 can i let them all out in the common free range area to get to know each other , 2 would there be problems once the older ones hit maturity and 3 would it be possible to merge the 2 flocks safely given that the younger ones have the upper hand in numbers?

    Thanks guys
    O , P.S. the breed is potch koekoek just in case you need to know that
     
  2. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    According to Wiki, sounds like the potch koekoek are a sex link cross for meat and eggs?


    <low whistle> That's a lot of cockerels!

    What are your goals? Meat? Eggs? Chicks?

    How do you plan to manage that many mature roosters?

    I'd be making a 3rd enclosure, out of sight and sound of the other 2, and put most (or all) of the cockerels in there to grow out for meat.

    ETA: Free ranging is a good way to introduce flocks, they can get away from each other if necessary...especially if both flocks have been free ranged before and know to go back to their coop at dusk.
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2014
  3. Colin Fow

    Colin Fow Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks for the reply ,
    The cockerels will be cut down drastically once they all get big enough i will choose a select few to keep , the ones that don't make the cut will be for meat ,we plan on supplying fertile eggs and producing chicks in the future , i still got another young flock that are around 6 weeks old now and getting another 100 chicks in 2 weeks time once the cockerels are cut down in numbers i will hopefully as each flock matures be able to introduce the hens together to make a good sized flock producing fertile eggs with a select few roosters.
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2014
  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

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    1 can i let them all out in the common free range area to get to know each other ,

    Can they see each other, either from their runs or while they are free ranging? You don’t say how old they are but if they have seen each other for a week or more I would not hesitate to let them out to free range together as long as that free rang area is pretty large. The younger will simply avoid the older as long as they have enough room to get away. Do have a few feeding and watering stations scattered around so the younger don’t have to challenge the older to get a drink.

    2 would there be problems once the older ones hit maturity

    Probably not. The cockerels in the older group will decide among themselves which are more dominant. They’ll also force their dominance on the pullets in their age group by mating with them, even if the pullets don’t want to cooperate. They should ignore the younger group. It will still be pretty hectic within the older group once those hormones hit.

    When the younger group hits sexual maturity, the cockerels in that group should pretty much stay within their age group in these dominance fights at first. The dominant cockerels in the older group will dominate the younger group just because of maturity level. But cockerels mature at different rates. There may be some clashes in the two groups because of that. But mostly it will involve running away, maybe with some chasing.

    At some point the younger cockerels will want to mate with the older pullets. The older cockerels will not approve. But the older cockerels will still dominate the younger so those disputes should be chasing and running away, not real fighting, as long as the younger have plenty of room to run away. Things will get really exciting about then but there is usually no real damage done. In feral flocks this type of stuff happens all the time. Once they reach a certain level of maturity the younger cockerels would normally be run out of the main flock and forced to start their own flocks in a different territory. Space is key.

    and 3 would it be possible to merge the 2 flocks safely given that the younger ones have the upper hand in numbers?

    I’ve never believed in “upper hand in numbers”. More mature chickens outrank less mature chickens, period. The younger are not going to gang up to fight the older. They are going to run away. I think where this comes into play is with tiny flocks where you try to add only one chicken. Chickens are social creatures. They want to be with other chickens. If you only add one chicken it wants to be with the older ones but they beat the crap out of it when it invades their personal space. You certainly don’t have that problem. Yours will find plenty of company in their own peer group.

    I have a flock with a mature rooster and hens. If a broody raises the chicks she handles all that social stuff. I leave it to her. When I brood the chicks myself, my brooder is in the coop. My grow-out coop and run is right next to the adults. They see each other from the time I take them out of the incubator. At 8 weeks I let them roam together but they have a lot of room to roam and separate sleeping quarters. Usually around 12 weeks I move them in the main coop with the adults at night. I did that last night with some. I’ve never lost a chick to the adults during integration doing it this way.

    I have a question of my own. How in the world are you going to eat that many cockerels? You must be planning on selling them.
     
  5. Colin Fow

    Colin Fow Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks ridge runner that is very helpful ,
    They can not see each other when in the runs but when free ranging they can and do walk up to each others runs , the older ones will be 16 weeks old on Friday, the younger ones around 12 weeks give or take a day or 2 , when free ranging the older ones usually go up to the younger ones run and take a good look around for a moment then move on to forage and don't seem bothered at all.

    And yes that is a lot of meat , we will sell some and also give some away to friends and family , i want to have a business running eventually but right now i want to just do the best i can at establishing a good sized flock to start with , the eventual business side of it is important but i think right now the actual flock care is more important to be successful in the future.
     
  6. Colin Fow

    Colin Fow Chillin' With My Peeps

    181
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    Nov 12, 2014
    Johannesburg/Nylstroom
    Hi All

    I need some help here , the 2 flocks have been free ranging together with very few problems, a bit of displaying and a little chasing around but no big fights or anything like that , yesterday the 2 flocks at sunset all went together to the same coop all on their own, this morning we had 13 of the younger ones that had died!!! [​IMG] , it looks like one of the older roosters has had his hormones kick in and has become a little more aggresive today , the dead chickens dont have any injuries on them besides a bit of feather plucking from the others which seems to have happened after they died, i don't think the chickens killed eachother as all the dead chickens were in 1 corner, i think they might have pilled up ontop of each other and suffocated , so , would the older flock prevent the new ones from getting a place on the roost forcing them to huddle in a corner causing injuries/suffocation, and if i put a new roost in will this help to give the younger ones a better chance at having a new roost that the older ones would "allow" them to use?
     

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