Old flock lessons learned, ready for a new flock!

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by emdaws28, Jan 14, 2015.

  1. emdaws28

    emdaws28 Just Hatched

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    Hey there from southwestern New Hampshire! Thank you in advance for reading my long drawn out post!

    I've owned chickens for about a year and a half. And I call my flock my "Practice Chicks"

    I first got 6 pullets from a local feed store (at the time I lived in Connecticut). 2 RIRs, 2 Barred Rocks, and 2 Ameraucanas. All pretty petrified of humans. Around the same time, a 2-3 year old RIR came into my clinic (I'm a vet tech) to be put down because she was attacked the night before by wildlife. We ended up putting her under general anesthesia, fixing her up, and I ended up "adopting" her and taking her home. I kept her confined in a dog crate in the coop for the first few days, daily medication, etc. She refused to eat. About 5 days went by without her eating, so I tried letting her out with the rest of the girls to see how she would do. She flourished. A year and a half later, she is the queen of the coop. But she is the only girl who will let me handle her, the others have always been afraid of me, and I did not put in the effort to socialize with them like I probably should.

    At my house in Connecticut they were not free-range. I lived on a busy road, prey-driven dogs next door, too risky for me. But I could tell my girls were miserable, picking on each other all the time, they needed more space! So when I moved up to NH, I was looking forward to finally free ranging them! We moved in late September of this year. Once I got them up here, I decided to add a rooster for some protection. I "adopted" a roo from a local woman I met on an online forum, a 6 month old Wyandotte (his birthday was in March). The girls spent the first few weeks picking on him, I was hoping he would stand up for himself, but he still seems to be at the bottom of their pecking order, he still has never crowed, never tried to mount anyone, and I feel like he isn't able to live his life! One good thing (but I don't believe he has anything to do with it), there has been no predator issues! (keeping my fingers crossed that that will continue!)

    Last winter I had a light in the coop (it was a very large coop for my amount of chickens, so it provided heat for them AND the water). So they layed most of the winter. This winter I wanted to let them molt, and the coop is much smaller so they keep it warm on their own, so no light, and I'm using a water heater. But, only 2 or 3 of them ended up actually molting, seemed very strange to me.

    Today I went out to find roundworms in their poop! EW! I was grossed out for sure, but I had never dewormed in the past, as I had never thought about it nor had any issues (especially with them not free ranging until a few months ago). After reading up on a few threads on BYC, I purchased Wazine from the feed story today.

    So now that you have my background story, here's my deal: I want to start over with a new flock in the spring. I either plan to re-home my girls, or cull them for stew (I'm sorry to those that may offend!!). I want to raise the chicks, get them used to being handled, get them used to being around dogs (my dog is great with the chickens, its the chickens that are afraid of him). In my mind, my plan would go as follows: Lose my flock between now and the end of March, get chicks in April, keep them in brooder until they are big enough to go out (unsure how old that would be), and in the meantime fix up my coop and get it ready for them.

    My questions would be:
    - Do I keep my roo? And keep a couple hens to keep him company until my new girls are ready for him? And then maybe with the new girls he can finally be the roo he's always wanted to be? Or do I contact his previous owner and see if she wanted him back (I'm sure she would take him)
    -Deworming protocols: what are yours? There are SO many different opinions about DE, and I'd like to learn more about it and its benefits, and the benefits of other natural forms of parasite control
    -I am interested in using sand bedding, easier to clean? Where do you purchase your sand? I currently use pine shavings from Tractor Supply, kind of a waste and pain in the butt to clean.
    -I'm leaning towards Orpingtons, I love how "voluptuous" they are, and I've read great things about their personalities! Any breed suggestions tried and true?
    -Has anyone built a coop/run on an incline? Please post your pictures! I want to move my coop to the hill in my yard, but my hubby is convinced it would be way too much work to rig up a run on an incline...


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    My coop

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    Most of the ladies, and the gentleman! This is the hill I want to move the coop to!
     
  2. justplainbatty

    justplainbatty Chillin' With My Peeps

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    [​IMG] Hello! You might want to keep the roo, an experienced one will be good for the newcomers. Yes keep a couple hens for his company. He can perfect his mating skills on them. Orpingtons are wonderful,you will be pleased. DE can be an external parasite deterrent but does nothing for internal parasites nor does ACV or yogurt. Building the coop on the hill is great for drainage but if they free range, they'll find the dirtiest puddle anyway so, kinda up to the builder? Good luck with whatever you choose.[​IMG]
     
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  3. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    There's nothing wrong with wanting to start fresh with a new flock. Go for it!

    If it's tame, friendly chicks you want, rig up your brooder for side access rather than your typical top access brooder sitting on the floor. Reaching down into the brooder scares chicks as badly as they would be if a hawk dove in and attacked them. In fact, their instincts cause them to react exactly that way when anything comes at them from above. I place my brooders on a table, and sit on a stool and play with my chicks, easy on them, easy on my back. There are photos of my brooders on my personal page.

    As for building a coop and run on an incline, mine is, and you can see photos galore on my personal page. Just click on the albums to see pics both when it was being built and the completion, both inside and out.
     
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  4. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Overrun With Chickens

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    Personally, I like a multi-generational flock. But then again, I am not big on holding my chickens, so there stand offishness does not bother me.

    If you like getting eggs, I would keep half of this current flock, add half the numbers to it, then next year cull out the old flock, add chicks. It will give you a more consistent egg count.

    But nothing wrong with starting with new ones. I love my BO, they have always gone broody for me and raised lovely chicks.

    Mrs K
     
  5. pdirt

    pdirt Chillin' With My Peeps

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    You might see if you have a good old-school herbalist around and see if they have any worming formulas for animals. We have one here...our friend swears by it, gives her dog the formula twice a year and always will see a lot of dead worms in the dog's stools afterwards. We always lean towards "natural"/herbal first and then will go to the pharmaceutical route if necessary. I haven't tried it for our chickens because 1) it's very dry where we live and 2) I've seen no signs that I would need to worm them.

    One of my favorite breeds so far are the Black Australorps, a gorgeous shimmery dark green in bright sunlight. They're also rather voluptuous. They lay pretty well, too. We opted out of the BO when our feed store owner (who we trust) said the ones she has bought (for the store) in the past were not prolific egg layers. We definitely wanted lots of eggs, so we opted against the BOs. But they sure are adorable! I'm sure there are lotsa folks who now write in saying how well their BOs lay. It can be hard to tell as one breed from one hatchery will have different traits than the "same" breed from another hatchery.
     
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2015
    1 person likes this.
  6. emdaws28

    emdaws28 Just Hatched

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    Thank you for your quick response the night I posted this! I think youre right, I will probably end up keeping the roo and just a couple hens for him to hold him over. And I am thinking I will use DE in the future, no harm no foul right? And break out the big guns if i end up with a problem (as i did!)
     
  7. emdaws28

    emdaws28 Just Hatched

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    Thank you Mrs. K!
    (My RIR I mentioned above, the one I rescued from my work and is the queen of my roost, her name is Miss K as well :) )
     
  8. justplainbatty

    justplainbatty Chillin' With My Peeps

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