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pullAdding new birds?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Carlyle, Dec 22, 2011.

  1. Carlyle

    Carlyle Out Of The Brooder

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    I have 4 3-year olds in a 4'x8' chicken tractor with an upstairs loft. I got them all at once as started pullets and they get along fine. They are Red Star. I would like to add two more. Yes, I have read the threads and know the "right way" to do it. But I don't have the wherewithal to do that. What is the worst that happens if I get two more started pullets of the same kind and just dump them in there? In the extreme, I guess I can just "eliminate" the old ones and get 4 new ones, but I don't really want to do that. Would it make a difference of which breed I introduced? I was thinking about getting a couple of Barred Rocks, but I certainly don't want to start a race riot!
     
  2. AinaWGSD

    AinaWGSD Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Worst case scenario, the new birds are carrying some disease that totally wipes out your entire flock, old and new, and you are left with no chickens and a contaminated environment that poses a health threat to any new chickens you bring on to your property for the next few years. As for the chickens themselves, worst case is the old flock literally pecks the new birds to death. A 4x8' tractor doesn't give new birds anywhere to escape from bullying and pecking from the established flock members, especially if that 4x8' is the base of an A-framed tractor...meaning the square footage of the upstairs loft is much smaller. The breed of the new birds won't make a difference, your flock will react the same way to a totally different looking breed as they will to two birds of the same breed that appear identical. Personally, if you aren't going to take the time to do a proper quarantine and introduction I think you'd be better off culling the entire old flock and starting with 4 new birds. Just my opinion based on a meager 1 1/2 years chicken keeping experience and introducing 3 new birds to my own flock this fall.
     
  3. CMV

    CMV Flock Mistress

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    I have to agree with AinaWGSD.

    Good luck.
     
  4. Carlyle

    Carlyle Out Of The Brooder

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    Thanks for replies so far - even if not encouraging.

    My issue is "pecking to death" more than "disease".
    If the new ones are pretty big - say, 6-12 mo old - would that make much difference?
     
  5. CMV

    CMV Flock Mistress

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    Not much if they are ganged up on, or if they are quite docile.
     
  6. mstricer

    mstricer Overrun With Chickens

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    Quote:You should worry about disease before pecking, they will bicker a little. You just have to keep they separate, like in a dog kennel so they can see each other, they might not peck as much.
     
  7. AinaWGSD

    AinaWGSD Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Well, you did ask for worst case scenario. I'm sure that it could go the opposite way and everyone is instant friends and the birds are totally healthy. The reality is it would most likely be somewhere between the two extremes. Personally I think there's just more risk in what you are considering than what I am willing to take. But we all have our own comfort level and we all have to do what we feel is best for us.

    Pecking and bickering is going to happen any time you introduce new birds, and I just feel like in a 4x8' space there isn't enough room to just stay out of each others' way until things settle down. How bad the pecking is depends mostly on the temperament of both the new birds and the current flock, but to some degree size matters too. I certainly wouldn't want to try to introduce pullets younger than say 4-5 months to a flock of adult hens because chances are they just won't be able to hold their own. The closer in size the new birds are to the old birds the more likely they are going to be able to stand their ground when needed. Of course, a very large bird can be pecked bloody by a very small bird if the large bird is quite docile and the smaller bird is not, and once blood has been spilled even the most docile hens are going to join in the picking. That's why you always separate an injured bird that is bleeding immediately, because otherwise you are just waiting for her to be pecked to death by the rest of the flock (and this is true regardless of whether the bird is a newcomer or well established member of the flock).
     
  8. Carlyle

    Carlyle Out Of The Brooder

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    I did not mean to belittle the disease thing. It is just in my particular circumstance, knowledge of the source of the new chickens, etc., that is not a big worry for me right now. My grand plan was to have 4-6 chickens - then introduce a new one or two every year and "trim the herd" as necessary. But you all seem to be pushing me toward a total "regime change" every 2 or 3 years.
     
  9. 7L Farm

    7L Farm Chillin' With My Peeps

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    It really all depends on what you want. Older birds don't lay like young pullets. So, some folks cull to get rid of birds that aren't laying. Feed is expensive so if the birds are getting up in age & not laying they cull & start over. Some people do this in the winter so they won't have to feed them all winter. Other folks raise birds as pets & feed them till they die or a predator gets them.
    Its rough adding birds to an already established flock at least in my experiences. Adding a roo is usually a pretty smooth addition. I hate adding to my flocks personally I don't it normally throws egg production way down. Even if one girl has been with the flock forever & she gets sick are whatever you remove her for awhile then you try & add her back its a nightmare.
     
  10. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    Here, we "rotate" in new pullets, hatched in spring, and laying by fall, every year. We have multiple farms, multiple pens, etc. It isn't tough. We must be productive.

    The backyarder, with a single coop, can mimic some of what we do with the use of a decent sized dog kennel. That can become a "home" within the coop during the introduction period, to assist in integration. The new order will still have to be established, but the existing flock won't be shocked by a sudden intruder.
     

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