Re-starting Flock

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by jomoncon, Dec 14, 2010.

  1. jomoncon

    jomoncon Songster

    Sep 24, 2010
    New Orleans, LA
    I guess I'm one of those people who anticipate problems/questions years in advance. I think I just like to be prepared. I have 8 RIRs that are only 8 weeks old and of course I'm no way near getting my first egg. I got the chickens for egg laying. And as sweet as they are, I don't think I'll get so very attached to them.

    When their egg production drops a lot at age 3 or so, how do I cycle in new chicks to replace the ones I have so that I'm not without eggs for several months. I live in the middle of the city, with a small lot, and therefore I just don't have the space for a separate run new chicks. Could I replace half of the older hens at a time, so that I would still be getting some eggs? Or should I just bite the bullet and replace everyone at the same time?

    How do others with small flocks & limited space replace their older flock?
  2. Domestic_goddess

    Domestic_goddess Songster

    Mar 26, 2009
    Get 3-4 new chickes every year and cull the older ones! I have a set up to have them for 3 years and then cull, and I get new chicks every year, it's the best way to keep up the egg productions. Good luck!
  3. ChickenWisperer

    ChickenWisperer Songster

    Jun 30, 2008
    What size is your lot?
  4. jomoncon

    jomoncon Songster

    Sep 24, 2010
    New Orleans, LA
    My backyard is approximately 20x45. What's not garden or pond or present coop is only about 10x20. Maybe I could put up some king of temporary coop & run.
  5. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Crowing

    Nov 12, 2009
    western South Dakota
    The truly easiest way, is to have a broody hen. Let her raise the chicks in the hen house. If she is a good one, and things are not overcrowded, she will protect the little ones from the others. If you don't have fertilized eggs, you can count 21 days of broody time, and slip day old chicks under her, or you can buy fertilized eggs, or sweet talk someone out of a dozen, which is what I did. Then as they grow, you can butcher the roos, and then the older hens. You don't need another pen or quarantine space.

    However, you might need to get a different breed, I am not sure how broody RIR are. BO are pretty good. I like my hens, but I love having chickens, and I love getting new ones, so the old must go, cause I am limited on space, and have no real need for a larger flock.
    I have 7 hens now, and a roo.

  6. Chicken.Lytle

    Chicken.Lytle Songster

    Oct 19, 2010
    Montgomery County, TX
    You could have rotating flocks. Set up 3 coops. Every year, clear out a coop and restock. Of course, you will have more eggs than you can eat. I am overwhelmed by my six girls .
  7. GardeNerd

    GardeNerd Songster

    After seeing a neighbor's difficult experience with integrating 3 new pullets to an existing flock of 3 without a broody, I decided I didn't want to do it that way. I have a small yard so two separate coops is not an option either.

    We replaced the whole flock at once (we only had 3 hens.) My kids love raising chicks so this was something they were excited about. We raised the new chicks inside until they were off heat. By the time they were ready to move out doors to the coop, the older hens moved to their new home. I had stock piled enough eggs to last a little while, but eventually I had to start buying eggs at the farmers market again. We went about 3 1/2 months without home raised eggs. However, the wait made it all that more exciting when we got the first egg from the replacement flock.

    Our previous hens were 1 1/2 years old with a few pretty productive years yet to come when we sold them, so they were still valuable to the new family that has them. All of our chickens are organically fed, hand raised, kid/ dog/ cat friendly, so the previous flock went for a premium price to a nice family making it a little easier to part with the hens.
  8. abhaya

    abhaya Songster

    Nov 5, 2010
    cookeville, tn
    I say when a hen goes broody get some eggs to hatch bt mail or find a byc member near you and go get them. let her hatch and raise the chicks in the coop. then you dont have to mess with brooder or integration she will do all the work for you. then cull a few to keep the flock the size you want. Cull in many cases means rehome as in the city butchering the birds may not be an option. If you listed henson heresomeone would take them.
  9. DAFox

    DAFox Songster

    Nov 7, 2009
    SW MO in Vernon Co
    This is what I would do.
    I would add a separate space for 4 more chickens. It would have to double as a brooder and coop/run. Next year, at the same time you bought the present 8, I would buy 4 day-olds. When I got my first egg from the new chickens, I would cull an equal number of the least productive of the older chickens. I'd put on leg bands or have another way to identify the remaining older hens. Then, I would combine the flocks. The pecking order will be upset by the culling and the new chickens will be large enough to defend themselves from the older hens. I would repeat this process every year. 4 new chicks to replace the least productive older chickens. I may not have 4 chicks surviving to adulthood every year or 1 (or more) may turn out to be a roo (assuming that you have them sexed as day-olds. If you don't have them sexed, then double the amount of new chicks.) I would replace an equal number of the least productive, irregardless of age.
    Or if I bought pullets, I would do the same thing minus the brooder. The difference would be that they would have to be isolated completely from my older flock for at least a month to check for health issues.
    I do this kind of thing all the time without serious issues -- except for the time that I tried to introduce a large group of 7 week olds to a single hen. She terrorized them terribly. Now I wait until they are about the same size. Roos, however, take more time an effort to introduce to each other successfully.
    Good luck,
  10. darkmatter

    darkmatter Songster

    Jul 10, 2009
    I introduce incubated Chicks and Guineas every year to my established flock using a intro-cage:


BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by