new chickens, a roo and a new coop- advice needed on what to do?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by khark74, Aug 7, 2013.

  1. khark74

    khark74 Out Of The Brooder

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    May 28, 2012
    Massachusetts
    I have a flock of 8 hens that are 15 months old living in a coop and enclosed run - although they are frequently out grazing in the yard. They are a well behaved flock, in that they tend to stay close in the back yard, go into their coop every night and are great layers. The coop is small for them, and there is some butt picking that occurred, especially when the weather is bad and they have to stay enclosed in that small space.

    My hubby has built a much larger coop/addition that will be finished soon. It is a separate "building" with roosting and feeding space. It will connect to the original coop, and the hens will continue to lay in their existing nest boxes. This will give them much more space, especially when bad weather comes.

    I also have 3 new birds, 2 hens and a roo that are 11 weeks old, still living in the brooder in the garage. They free range most of the day in the front yard. The roo has crowed but is still very docile to me.

    I was thinking that once the new coop/addition was completed (2 weeks?) I'd move the new birds to that space and keep them closed in for a few days so that they'd know this was their new home. Then open that space up to the older birds and make sure I am home so that they could all free range outside with the most space.

    The other option I thought of was to open the new coop/addition and give the older birds more space and wait for the new birds to be 16 weeks and on the layer feed and place them in the new coop at night. I wondered if the new birds would get chased out and not know where their home was, so the first option seemed best.

    Maybe there is another option to think through? Thanks in advance for your advice.
     
  2. Margiechickmom

    Margiechickmom Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 4, 2013
    Rural NE North Carolina
    I've found that when adding new birds it's always good to let them live where they can see each other but can't get to each other for a few weeks. That way they're not strangers when they get together. If they can be where they can see each other but not attack that lets them get acclimated to each other.
     
  3. khark74

    khark74 Out Of The Brooder

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    May 28, 2012
    Massachusetts
    a couple of weeks, hmmm - I hadn't thought of it like that, although it makes sense. Maybe if I could partition the new coop in some way so the new hens/roo could live there and let the older hens into the rest of the space - they'd be able to see each other, but be safe. That would get the sleeping arrangements settled, keep the chick food away from the layer and get the crowing roo out of my garage. I don't think I have a way to let the new chicks out to the yard in a safe space, but maybe I can think on that for a little while. thanks for the ideas!
     
  4. Margiechickmom

    Margiechickmom Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 4, 2013
    Rural NE North Carolina
    Plastic fencing works well. That's what I've used. I just recently introduced 4 Swedish Flower Hens that I hatched to my flock of 9 girls. It worked very well. The older girls still peck at the younger ones if treats are involved but they basically didn't bother them at all.
     
  5. Chickery Chick

    Chickery Chick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jul 27, 2013
    This is what I did for almost 2mo. I put a fold down portable dog crate in the chicken house
    See here how easy it is to set up and take down after you've merged the flock.

    Tractor Supply and Orcheilins sells these.
    Also, good to have this on hand so you have a quick and easy place to quarantine a new chick or roo for 30 before introduction to the flock, or if you suspect an illness and need to separate the chick or roo for a period of time for meds etc.
    Put broom sticks or tree limbs through for roosting near the back. Make they don't twist on them so they can rest on them.
    Line the plastic tray at the bottom with cardboard then straw or just straw if you want and rinse off when done.
    Place the cage near your exit door where they free range and door opening to kennel straight into the exit.
    Then put your new chicks in their until they are big enough to fend for themselves.
    Once they are together, the new chicks will run into the kennel for safety. It is doubtful one of the older hens would want to go into it, unless their is food to bully over. If there is a big difference in size of chickens, wire or fix the door to open just enough for the little ones to go in but not the big ones or make your own custom cut board to fit the size diff. Also a good idea to lean some plywood, panels, pallets against the walls so little chicks have a place to run and hide from big chickens. Never have just a bare pen with not object for them to hide behind or under.
     
  6. khark74

    khark74 Out Of The Brooder

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    May 28, 2012
    Massachusetts
    thanks Margiechickmom and Chickery Chick, those are great suggestions. I have some plastic fencing, so I can put a temporary run in the yard for the newer chicks. I'd have to transport them but at least they'd get some fresh air. that crate looks really neat, there is TSC close by so I will look at them closer. You made a good point that even after a few weeks, the newer chicks may still need a place to hide.
     
  7. Chickery Chick

    Chickery Chick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have never found a need to have separate areas when they are free range. The old hens just ignore the younger ones, unless we throw scraps out. The big ones will quickly arrive on site and the little ones just scurry away and wait for the leftovers. In the evening the old hens go to their regular roost 1st, then the little ones wait for the big ones to all roost then they start to roost and go straight into the dog kennel and know their spot. After everyone has found their spot at dusk, I go out and shut the crate door and chicken house door, but not sure shutting the crate is necessary but just in-case I don't get out early enough in the morning I do shut crate door for precaution. Early in the morning I go out and open the chicken house door, then the big ones all run out, then I open the crate and all the little ones run out. I do keep a small water-er and feeder in the crate for the little ones prior to merging the flock(obviously they need to eat and drink), but after I feel they are big enough and letting them out to run with the big ones in the yard, they all share the same water-er and feeder. I've never lost an eye or got an injury to chick with this set-up. My flock is usually about 10 and 10, meaning old hens 10 and new ones 10. Once I feel everyone can live under the same roof, or at least be able to run or hide safely, I then remove the crate. You will find the same exact evening routine but the little ones will want to roost where ever you had the crate setting. So keep that in mind when deciding where to place the crate in the chicken house. Then make 12"-16" roosting boards in that same spot and they'll go right to them. I've never seen a big hen want to roost in their new spot. The old hens got their own spot they like and are quite defensive of it. They will not allow a little one to join them. So this new little roosting area will probably always be the new chicks' spot to go for a very long time. Once they are big enough, you can place the roosting boards higher. Eventually after about 2 years they all merge and will set on the same roost together, so long as your hens are all about the same size.
     
  8. khark74

    khark74 Out Of The Brooder

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    May 28, 2012
    Massachusetts
    Today we moved the 3 chicks into the new part of the coop, which means they are out of the garage finally! Decided to separate using plastic chicken wire, my hubby didn't want to spring for the dog crate. Almost done with the project, the connector to the old coop is next - then trim and roof shingles. Once the connector is done, the older chickens will be able to have the space in the foreground of the photo so all the chickens will become neighborly. The chicken wire went in easy peasy and I think they'll love their new space.


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