Newbie- Is two to few?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by wahmommy, Aug 18, 2010.

  1. wahmommy

    wahmommy Songster

    Aug 14, 2010
    I'm in a semi urban environment, and I don't have a large space for chickens, so ideally I will end up having 3-4 hens at most. I got two chicks last week, a welsummer and an ameraucana. I met someone today who told me that I should have got 3 because if I lose one, the other chicken will need a friend (of course) and also it would be hard to introduce a new chicken into the coop later on down the road. My "master plan" was to raise these two chickens until they started laying then decide at that point what other breed of hen I want, then get a new chick which would be introduced into the coop once it got big enough. The person I spoke to said that is difficult to do - can anyone weigh in on this? Should I go get another chick now (even though it will be a couple of weeks younger than my other chicks?). Or can I stick to my original plan and just hope I don't lose one?
  2. DutchieWannabe

    DutchieWannabe In the Brooder

    Aug 18, 2010
    I think in the end its up to you... I started with three (for the reason of if you loose one it wont be lonely) then one was a roo and had to go. but then I got two new hens (4 total) i found some on craigslist about the same age as my others (about 4 months at the time) then it was easy to integrate them, it took about two weeks before they really "became friends" but no real fighting or picking on eachother, plus i didnt have to go through the chick routine again. my point being, if u just want two for now to see how it goes, u can try to get grown hens if you want more, and then the age difference wont be as big a deal with integration. but hey, some people love the chick phase....
  3. itsmyobsession

    itsmyobsession Songster

    Jun 22, 2010
    When we got our chickens we started out with 8 and of the 8 6 were Roos, so, we sold the Roos and started over trying to get some hens. Then, a friend was moving and couldnt take her chickens so we became foster parents to her flock as well. The point is we have introduced chickens at different time of different ages and it may be rough for a day or two but eventually they become one big happy flock.....Good luck!
  4. cobrien

    cobrien Songster

    Mar 16, 2009
    Oakland, CA
    I agree with the advice you received. I have kept city chickens for many years and I find the hardest part is finding the right balance of # of chickens to meet my egg demand, because to achieve this balance requires culling or retiring older hens and introducing new ones.

    What makes it challenging for me is that I don't buy store eggs so rely on my own eggs for vegetarian protein, and I don't cull older birds - I let them retire. This means I have to introduce new birds every few years, and although I love getting new chicks/hens, I dread the integration process. You can read of the many challenges with integrating chickens on BYC. Although most are successful with time, it is almost always challenging and sometimes heart breaking to see how cruel chickens can be. The amount of fighting depends a lot on their temperament and how much space you have - and for city folk we typically don't have much space and fighting can be extreme.

    So, I would get at least one more now of the same age. I think 3 is a good number if 1-3 eggs/ day for a few years sounds right to you. 3 chickens are not much more work than 2. It is a very real possibility that you will lose one and then you'd be in a bind. If you don't want to replace older birds, odds are in 3-4 years you will have 2-3 older hens, and you could add 2 more to compensate for egg production. As time goes on you might get an excess of older birds / too few eggs and you'll have to make decisions on how to deal with that. I'm hoping that by the time that happens to me I'll be in the country and have more space!

    The last time I added to my flock, I had 3 older birds and should have gotten 2 to keep up the egg production. But of course I got 4 chicks at the feedstore, because I figured 1 might die and 1 might be a rooster (this was a chicken-aholic rationalization!). Ugh - now I have 7 chickens. Although i have the space it is a few too many for me. Next time I add, I plan to get few ~6 month old hens so that I know they aren't roosters and so I know they are past the infant mortality phase. But since yours are young it will be MUCH easier to add another young one now.

    Many chicken experts advise against introducing new hens every few years as it causes a lot of stress, fighting, etc. and raises the risk of introducing disease to your flock. This is sound advice from the 'chickens as livestock' perspective. But if you don't introduce new hens, this then you need to cull or have a bunch of separate coops and that is not an option for me.

    Good luck with your new chickies.

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