Mixing my Flock - Tips?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Tkoop741, Jan 4, 2013.

  1. Tkoop741

    Tkoop741 Out Of The Brooder

    29
    0
    24
    Dec 25, 2012
    Tyler, Texas
    I have four 5 week old pullets (Mixed Black Australorp and RIRs) and will be adding three 14 week pullets (Ameraucana) today. Any tips? Are they young enough that they can all be put together immediately or should I separate them first? We have a pretty small coop/henhouse (3'x4') with attached run (3'x8').

    Just needing some advice :) TIA!
     
  2. TheSpeckledRoo

    TheSpeckledRoo Chillin' With My Peeps

    148
    6
    81
    Dec 10, 2012
    Michigan
    You need to quarentine them first for thirty days. Then you can integrate them by either letting them free range together (so it is neutral ground) or you can just put the new pullets in the coop at night without disturbing the other pullets. I do the later, there will be some pecking but it wont last two weeks.
     
  3. WalkingOnSunshine

    WalkingOnSunshine Overrun With Chickens

    4,210
    454
    328
    Apr 8, 2008
    Ohio
    I second the quarantine. I answered a thread just a few days ago from a poor woman who accidentally brought Mareks into her flock and is now dealing with necropsies and the potential loss of her entire flock, and the flock of a neighbor whom she gave birds to.

    Remember, when you quarantine, you have to be careful not to touch the new birds and then go touch your birds. Always feed/handle your birds first, then the newcomers. Make sure you've changed clothes and disinfected shoes and had a shower before you go back to your flock. Don't share feed pans. Keep the newcomers far enough away from the main flock so that you minimize dander transfer through the air.

    It isn't fun, but the alternative (infecting a whole flock) is worse.

    After the quarantine period, its' best to introduce through a fence for a week or so. Then mix the flocks in a place where there's lots of room for every bird to get away from/hide from all the others, so no one gets stuck in a corner and pecked bloody. Free ranging is best. Let the new birds go "home" to the introduction pen for a week, while the flocks free-range together during the day. Then you can put the new birds into the coop. I'd then keep them all locked into the coop together for a week so the new birds can learn that the coop is the new home. Either that, or you'll have to put them into the coop every night for a week or two until they get the change in sleeping arrangements.
     
  4. dirtsaver

    dirtsaver Chillin' With My Peeps

    567
    9
    133
    Mar 20, 2010
    Northern Kentucky
    I agree 100% !!! Better the extra time and work than loosing your whole flock.

    And remember,just because the seller claims the new birds have never shown signs of sickness does not garantee anything. Many birds may carry deadly disease without being sick themselves. On our place we have decided to only bring in day old chicks ordered and shipped directly from the hatchery. No more adult or half-grown birds will come onto our place. And after all the sick birds we saw at the state fair poultry show this year it's the safest way to assure your birds good health!
     
  5. TheSpeckledRoo

    TheSpeckledRoo Chillin' With My Peeps

    148
    6
    81
    Dec 10, 2012
    Michigan
    I bought a rooster and integrated him right away. EVERY SINGLE ONE of my ladies got sick. I lost sleep over it. It isn't worth it.
     
  6. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Overrun With Chickens

    4,741
    1,381
    356
    Nov 12, 2009
    western South Dakota
    A couple of points. I am thinking that there is quite a size difference between 5 weeks, and 14 weeks, the smaller birds will be on their home turf, but I think the older birds will be mean to the younger birds, maybe very mean.

    I question the space you have for 7 chickens, none of those chickens are full grown yet, as in they will all get bigger and need more space. You basically have 36 square feet, I think you are going to have a lot of over crowding issues.

    Without a doubt - it is not a bad idea to quarantine. However, if you can't do it right, you may as well not do it at all. To do it correctly, you need two totally separate coops/runs, they need to be a great distance apart, and you need to change clothes and footwear, and wash between sets of birds, and you need separate water and feed. Having the birds separated but within a few feet of each other is not a quarantine situation.

    If you have a very valuable flock, with extensive breeding, or if you have a large flock, in both cases you are risking a financial loss, quarantine is of high importance. Unless you are so attached to your birds, that losing them will put you in a state of decline, the average small back yard flock, is really not a great risk, but it is a risk. More than once I have added birds, willy nilly and got a long just fine. However, in the spring, I have ordered some higher quality birds, and I will be quite a bit more careful what I add to that flock.

    But I really think your biggest issue is the lack of space. With the space you have, I would think the 4 birds, once full grown will find it a bit small.

    MrsK
     
  7. Tkoop741

    Tkoop741 Out Of The Brooder

    29
    0
    24
    Dec 25, 2012
    Tyler, Texas
    The 4 smaller ones were free from a friend (just some chicks she hatched for the experience for her kids). The 3 pullets I bought were pretty cheap as well. If I lose them all we'll be sad but I'll be out less than $30. I talked to a few friends who have mixed flocks with no issues so I didn't even think about it until I started reading some posts about spreading diseases.

    I read the rule about space for laying hens as 2 sq ft per bird in the coop. They will free range in our backyard when not in the attached run (which actually is 3'x12' because the area under the coop is 1.5' tall and is attached to the run).

    I will only keep 6 hens once they get laying. I can only legally have 6 but I am leaning towards on of my 4 babies being a cockerel. So when I bought pullets I aimed high at 7 just in case I have to get rid of one :)
     
  8. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Overrun With Chickens

    4,741
    1,381
    356
    Nov 12, 2009
    western South Dakota
    the 2 sq feet is for bantams, and I think you have standard breeds, and it is recommended that you need 8-10 sq ft of run space per bird, 4 sq ft for the coup. The reason I mention this, is over crowding really multiplies a lot of problems with chickens.

    I have had chickens for years, and through trial an error, I have found, that I can have a comfortable, calm and peaceful flock with 10-12 head. In the summer, I can get by with more as they are often out most of the day, free ranging, and part of the flock is young and not real big, but as fall comes on, and the young ones take up more space, one can feel the tension rising in the flock. They are in the coup more, because the day is short, and the nights are long.

    Space is of crucial importance with chickens. I think you do not have enough space, and it will cause you problems with this integrations, plus with the difference in size between the two age groups.

    MrsK
     
  9. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

    31,452
    3,536
    538
    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon
    Can't second this enough. So many folks come on here with behavior problems or "integration problems" that wouldn't even be an issue if the birds had enough space. Chickens are living animals and need space to move around and avoid more dominate birds. Your small area won't let a lower bird get out of the way or line of sight of a more aggressive bird. Someone on here likened a small run to your entire family living in your bathroom for the winter. Doesn't sound too appealing, does it?

    With your size coop and run I'd have a MAXIMUM of three adult large fowl. Babies you can get more in there without as many problems, but for the long run that's the most that should be in that space.
     
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2013
  10. WalkingOnSunshine

    WalkingOnSunshine Overrun With Chickens

    4,210
    454
    328
    Apr 8, 2008
    Ohio
    Thirding. And the amount of space they say you need in the books seems to be enough for debeaked chickens, but not for those with full pecking powers.

    We built our coop based on "the book." According to the poultry literature, we should have enough space for 90 hens in our coop, as long as they have access to the pasture. In practice, however, we really only have a top end of 60 birds. We had 75 one winter, and that should have still left them plenty of room, according to the literature. But we had terrible pecking problems, culminating in one poor pullet pecked through to her spine in one night. We sold a bunch of birds, got down below 60, and haven't had a single pecking problem (other than a nasty hen here or there that is cured by peepers) in the past five years.

    Part of the problem is that the space is enough for 90 birds if some of the birds are out at pasture. But if there's snow on the ground and none of the birds go out, that space inside isn't enough.

    We have a "pullet house" that we use for young stock. It's plenty of room for several months, but you can see almost to the day when those birds don't have enough room any more. One morning they look great, the next you can see ragged bits on the tails from pulling. That's my cue to let them into the big pasture and integrate them into the laying flock. Once they don't have enough room, nothing will alleviate the stress and pecking except more room.
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by