Need help with flock management


In the Brooder
5 Years
Jul 27, 2014
Attack of the chicken math!

Back in March we purchased 6 chicks. 1 was eaten by the neighbors dog, one ended up being a roo. The neighbor gave us 3 laying hens to replace the killed bird from her parent's farm and then rehomed our rooster with them. At that point we had 7 hens that fit very comfortably in our 4 by 8 A-frame coop with 4 by 50 run and adjacent 1/2 acre fenced garden they are allowed to range in during the day.

2 weeks ago a family in our homeschool group left a box of 6, 3 week old Cornish X's on our front step. They had hatched them in an incubator for "fun" and the kids were tired of them, so they left them at my house because I already had chickens. These poor chicks were in a box all day in the heat with a bowl of water that they had split and some wilted veggies. I was not happy with her and called her out on her inhumane behavior. I wasn't sure they were going to make it, but they are now doing well . I have them in an extra large dog crate off my deck right now. I have no idea male or female and figure it will take a few more weeks to determine. But that put us up to 13 chickens.

Finally yesterday, my neighbor's mother showed up with 6 1 day old pullets. They had hatched a bunch of eggs for their fall festival, and thought since we gave them the roo, they would bring us some chicks. I wasn't home when she came or I would have declined. but my 10 year son (and head chicken keeper) was home and is in love with the little balls of fluff. So now we have 19 chickens....and a 4 by 8 coop.

Obviously I need a bigger coop. What I am trying to figure out is do i expand my coop, do I build an adjacent coop or do I build one at the other end of my run? Or do I scrap what I have and build a completely new one?

On top of all this we are going out of town the last week of October. I have a 4Her with chicken experience coming twice a day to take care of the flock, but I don't want to leave a complicated mess for her. And as I mentioned, my chief chicken tender is a 10 year old boy. We need a good, simple long term plan.

I had a plan going into winter and now need a new one. I would appreciate any help. We need to figure out enough feeders, waters (with heaters?) run space for the winter and roosting space.

Space is not a problem, we live on 2 acres. I have a pretty big pile of scrap lumber, shingles, and siding, a roll insulation and a 100 foot roll of 4 foot high hardware cloth to use for construction.

I am feeling overwhelmed at the moment and of the edge of panic. 6 chickens were fun....19 has become work. And my son has chicken fever bad! He is already browsing hatchery websites for more breeds he "has to have"

On the flip side, eggs make great barter items
First the CornishX are temporary, and should be processed when they get to size. If you do not eat them leg and heart problems will (usually) give them a short life. I to have expanded my flock to the to much work part, and will be turning some layers into soup. My limit is 20 or care starts to suffer. Figure out how to hook up nipple waters. Now I have food and egg pickup, but water is there with no problem. This helps alot.
So if I process the CornishX before we go out of town , do you think I can introduce the new littles to my layers and convince them to live in harmony before winter sets in? Is 4 x8 a big enough coop for 13 chickens? There are 4 roosting bars, only 2 of which are being used right now by the layers. They just sleep and lay eggs in the coop. We are going to put a hoop house over the run for the winter. I don't want the space too big to maintain heat in the winter.
You will need to keep the new chicks separate for several months. The older birds will not accept them into the flock until they are much older. They will need heat lamps for a couple of weeks.

I think you are going to need a second coop/run set up. I really wish I had one. However, my single coop/run keeps my chicken math in check.

Mrs K
I think the easiest thing would be to sell one group, either the older layers or the new chicks. Just cause someone gives you an animal doesn't mean you're obliged to keep it, especially if it stresses you out so much. Your son will get over the chicks leaving, and learn a good lesson about being a responsible animal keeper.
Agrees with donrae.


If you have the means to build another coop, I would build a larger(as large as possible) coop at the other end of the run.
Then you would have a larger coop to house all the chickens over winter and you could partition the run until the young group is old enough to integrate.

Then you'd have an 'extra' coop for when you need to segregate or integrate a group of replacement layers down the road.

I built a partition into my coop, with a separate run, and was very glad I did as I needed to segregate a junior rooster over winter and then used it to raise my replacement flock this spring and summer....I actually wish I had another separate coop/run (or 2 or 3).
I think we have a plan.

A friend of mine that raises poultry for meat is going to take the CornishXs this weekend. She will grow them and slaughter them at the right time and give me 2 of the 6 birds for our consumption, keeping the other 4 for theirs.

We are going to build an A frame coop at the other end of our run and fence off a portion of the garden with it for another run for the chicks for the winter. We will keep 20 feet between the runs so the Aframe coop can be used in the future for isolation of injured birds or as a grow out coop for subsequent chicks.

question, is 20 too close to use as a quarantine coop for sick birds or new layers? Right now my quarantine set up is on the opposite side of the yard adjacent to my son's play space.

Another question, if I move the chicks out to the coop in a month or so, should I provide a heat lamp because they will still be small? I am in northern Il and my backyard has no shelter from the wind. I have power in the coop.

Thank you

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