Should we get new chicks? Please help me decide if its a good or bad idea!

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by KaylaBird, Oct 11, 2013.

  1. KaylaBird

    KaylaBird Out Of The Brooder

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    Ok so here is my story.

    About 3 years ago we got 4 chicks. We got the first two and then about 3 weeks later got 2 more and kept them separate until they were all put into our new coop together. They developed personalities and one of the younger ones turned into quite the bossy hen. Pecking at the weak, flying out and destroying our garden bed, and always first in line for treats. One of the original four was always weak and never laid. After a bought of pox we lost her for good and the rest have been living together for 2 years since.

    Now we are thinking about introducing 2 new babies into the flock as a transition as our original hens are getting older. Our coop has plenty of room for 2 more but we would like to stick to 5 total. But, after reading the horrors of introducing new chicken into flocks we are a little scared.

    Our barred rock is evil and ruthless but also the best layer so we keep her around. But we are worried she might take it upon herself to take out any new coop mates. We have a small urban yard so keeping them separate is not really an option. Though we would keep them in our brooding box until they become pullet sized and the weather warms up a bit. Not that big of a concern for the weather in SoCal.

    On a separate matter, if we do go for it, our local feed store has some chicks. We were thinking of getting an americana for those beautiful eggs and then either a maran, a frizzle cochin, or a rhode island red. They have the later 3 right now but wont get in any americanas till next week. Would it be ok to get one now and another a week later? We heard its best to raise new chicks at least with one companion but we worry if we don't get one of the breeds they have now, by the time the americanas come in there will be none left. Its a silly worry but we would really like those particular breeds. Will a week alone be traumatizing?

    Please give us your thoughts! What should we do?
     
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2013
  2. Michael Apple

    Michael Apple Overrun With Chickens

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    Next time get the desired number of chicks the same age and raise them all together. Too much mixing of breeds causes problems as some are more aggressive than others, different sizes, etc.
     
  3. KaylaBird

    KaylaBird Out Of The Brooder

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    Well, yes ideally I get that but we are not about to kill our current ladies and start out with a brand new batch. When we started the whole chicken thing we didn't really have much guidance on choosing breeds, so now we know more about temperaments. We ended up deciding to get three so at least they will band together when the time comes against our older three. Our BO should get along with new hens fine and our Cochin will probably appreciate new meat for our barred rock to peck at. Yep our little 6 lady flock will consist of entirely separate breeds but honestly most small flock owners that I personally know all have mixed breed coops. I think they will do ok. We like having the diversity and its really only our barred rock who is hard to handle, and I know people who love their barred rocks.
     
  4. Michael Apple

    Michael Apple Overrun With Chickens

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    The most healthy chicks are those hatched in Spring. Now is not a good time of year to raise chicks, especially one by itself. They are very social creatures that learn from watching each other.
     
  5. KaylaBird

    KaylaBird Out Of The Brooder

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    Well, again it would only be for a week until we got another one. But we actually ended up getting two for now and we'll get the third in a week. All of our current chickens were raised in the fall. In soCal the weather is very mild and though spring chicks probably are better, now is the time of year that works best for our family to care for them.
     
  6. chicken pickin

    chicken pickin Overrun With Chickens

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    I think you will be fine doing as you described above. Im not sure why Michael Apple says otherwise. It is what people do all the time , adding new chickens to a flock. Chickens age and stop laying get taken by predators, die of natural causes, adding new birds is how we all keep our flock the size we want. And adding different breeds together is also not a problem, that's the fun of chicken raising. The endless possibilities of the feather color egg color etc is amazing. I for one LOVE a mixed flock just look at my signature line. Also again I have never heard Spring is when the most healthy chicks are hatched that just sounds silly. Spring is when hatching begins but it doesn't end there. Im glad to see you got 2 chicks and will get a 3rd next week, chicken math is at work lol. what 2 breeds did you pick up? Oh and just a little info the chicks breed at the store is most likely Easter Egger not Americana, since there is no such breed. Feed stores typically sell hatchery Easter Eggers(mutts that can lay any color egg) and mislabel them as Americana. Ameraucana however is a pure breed that lays blue eggs most often sold my breeders not feed stores.

    Post some pics of you chicks and chickens and let us know how it all goes.
     
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2013
  7. Michael Apple

    Michael Apple Overrun With Chickens

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  8. chicken pickin

    chicken pickin Overrun With Chickens

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    I think you are being to extreme on this because what I am reading is only get chicks in spring and never add birds to your flock and you have to raise them all together as chick for them to get along and if your chicken dies of natural causes it is obviously sick... If she is concerned about her mean chicken the idea is we should give her tips on how to integrate or give our opinion on breeds that might blend with her flock, not tell her its a bad idea. And that is what I am getting out of this. What about all the breeders that rotate breeding pens and switch roosters for better breeding purposes or ad new hens with good breeding qualities or all those cull chickens being rehomed to new coops when people down size or when we all hatch and raise our chicks to maturity to see what our pairs throw. People have flocks that start to get old and stop laying eggs should they not add new birds until they cull all their old ones? I understand stress on birds and pecking orders etc. It all has to do with flock management and watching the birds and taking the appropriate actions if things aren't going well. And I for one do enjoy Spring chicks its a good time to brood. But for me personally I like best fall brooding because the hens start laying in very early spring and have no egg laying interuptions until the next winter. And I don't think a chicken that dies of natural causes is necessarily sick because it died. I have had 2 chickens die and have had my flock state tested with added extra tests I requested and my birds are all very healthy. So not in all causes is that true. I think this should be the end of the discussion as this is not what the OP was probably looking for when she started this thread. I apologize that we don't fully agree on this.
     
  9. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    The issues I see reading your first post....

    How much space do you have? Your coop in the avatar doesn't look that large, but pics can be deceiving.

    I've not had good luck introducing a younger bird to the older hens until around 4 months. Do you have housing for the new birds for 4ish months? That gets to be a long time, trust me!

    Your coop doesn't seem to have much in the way of hiding space. When you do decide to put the new birds in there, I'd make some hiding spaces. I just use pieces of plywood leaned up against the wall of the run for the new bird to hide behind, things like that to block line of sight.

    From how you describe your dynamics, when you're ready to put the littles in the coop, pull the barred rock (that's the mean one, right?) out and house her wherever you were raising the littles for a week or so. That will give the littles a chance to fit in with the nicer big girls, and possibly knock the barred down a peg or two. There will still be issues when you put everyone in together, but that's a good start from my experience.

    Again, space is crucial, and hiding places are really necessary. And don't expect everyone to be sunshine and roses together even for several months. I have lots of small cliques in my large flock from introducing chicks every few months.

    Okay, re-reading this, I hope I didn't come across negative, I tried to balance potential issues with good suggestions but sometimes on the interwebz things come across wrong. Adding new birds is just kind of always a crapshoot.
     
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  10. 3chickchicks

    3chickchicks Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I would not get two to add and then one later. Get all three at the same time. The one you add later will get picked on by everybody and that'll be too much stress.
     
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