social groups remain intact even after mixed with larger flock

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by centrarchid, Mar 13, 2011.

  1. centrarchid

    centrarchid Free Ranging

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    Sep 19, 2009
    Holts Summit, Missouri
    Multiple times in the last month or so some of my breeding trios (each bird marked) were released to roam with free ranging flock. Even when released, the trios stayed together and if rooster and hen could be caught, the remaining hen would stay with her penned trio mates, even if their pen was moved. They seem to know each other my voice. Hens also very reluctant to mate with rooster not part of their trio.
     
  2. secuono

    secuono Songster

    May 29, 2010
    Virginia
    Yup. That's what they do.
    My Japs all stick with my Jap Roo. Mr. Roo runs off all other roos.
    My mix chickens have a bantam barred rock Roo. Any other Roos have to be subornate to the two top Roos, no crowing or mating for them.
    They will mix when I toss scratch, but then split up. I see no issue with it. You do not want your Roos to fight, so let them group off. Plus a strange Roo will mess up the new hens when they try to run away and their Roo comes to save them.
     
  3. perchie.girl

    perchie.girl Desert Dweller

    interesting thread... I am preparing to build my next Coop/chicken house, with the idea of raising about five different breeds of chickens. I have never done this before.

    In the past I have had a coop to keep the food and water centrally located, then allowed the chickens to roam about to do their chickiny things. I have eighteen acres of high desert which means lots of chaparal and very little in the way of grasses but lots of cover and other things to find to eat. We did fine this way till someone poisoned my neigbors dogs. Within a few weeks of this I started loosing the occasional chicken or guinea. Then after the big Fires started in San Diego we had an influx of preators that wiped out my whole flock in about 30 days.

    So now I want to control my flock and have been scratching my head as to how to do this. I still dont have a livestock guardian dog but from what has been said here it seems I wont have to keep my trios separated completely from the rest of the flock. I was hoping to be able to let them use the yard together Maybe by separating out the Cocks to a bachelor run. But then I would be worried I'd be messing with the established social structure.

    The breeds for eggs that I want are: Amauracanas (true blue eggs), Wellsummers (teracotta eggs), Chocolate Marans (chocolate eggs). Then for just their beauty I want Sumatras as close to the breed standard as I can find. And finally Auracanas. Then because I love their natural guard dog nature a flock of guineas.

    IN the past I kept the guineas with the chickens but it was a flock of about seven who were all males. I suspect having guineas who have the opportunity to pair with a female will make it a bit more dangerous to mix the flock. But From what I hear once I get the groups of Chicken breeds established i can allow them to mix to gether without having them cross breed? Providing the hens bond with which ever rooster they start with?
     
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2011
  4. centrarchid

    centrarchid Free Ranging

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    Holts Summit, Missouri
    I think cross breeding will be problem even if harems (hens) and master (rooster) are of same breed. Harem masters do not seem to copulate with hens outside their harem very often but the satellites (roosters w/out harems) do jump hens whenever they can. Most chicks should still be out of harem master.

    When I was younger we kept American games on walks on our farms and farms of neighbors. On our farms in particular, we had enough outbuildings and feedlots to enable multiple harems (sub-flocks) to setup nearly allopatric (non-overlapping) ranges. Each subflock would have a feedlot (hog or cattle), watering hole (livestock pond or large puddle), and roost. Some sub-flocks shared same building as roost but one group would have one manger head and another sub-flock would have another and in big barn a third group would roost on hay rope in loft. I have had success setting up sub-flocks without out buildings by raising groups of chicks together and providing each sub-flock with a roost and feeding stations. Some overlap has occured at feeding stations, sometimes with conflict, sometimes not, but sub-flocks have remained intact and discrete. Also keeping adults together for several weeks causes them to bond. Acreage and more investment in feeding stations I think enables. Too many birds and not enough habitat does not work in favor of sub-flock stability. Whenever sub-flocks broke down, a stag (satellite rooster) was involved and it often resulted in multiple harem masters getting involved. With American games system not stable as a result. Take home point to promote stability, pen up roosters that are not harem masters. If breeds that are allowed to co-mingle can be distinguished from their hybrids, then such as system will work for you. You will be addressing crosses as part of culling process but labor may in end be less.
     
  5. perchie.girl

    perchie.girl Desert Dweller

    Thanks I guess I wont have room. Thought I have made provisions for a bachelor pen. I will have space to do runs for each breed.... Each room in the Chicken house will be 12 x 6 for the egg layers. Smaller for the sumatras because I wont be keeping as many. The Runs will be at least twenty feet long with a shared space at the end of about 20 x 24 that they can share alternatively. Lots of big doors planned. The sumatras will get a much much larger space because I know they like to fly and are good at it. I am working on the logistics for that.
     
  6. centrarchid

    centrarchid Free Ranging

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    Sep 19, 2009
    Holts Summit, Missouri
    If you can resolve predator issue, then rotating flocks being free ranged is still option. With run system, a concern for me is insuring adequate vegetative plant material is consumed. Some folks get free past due vegetables from local market / stores. Just watch out for those with toxins that normally neutralized by cooking.
     
  7. perchie.girl

    perchie.girl Desert Dweller

    Quote:Here in the desert we dont have much green starting about two months from now. I have to supplement with Either alfalfa Chaffe or Soaked Alfalfa pellets. I will most definately get some good greens from the Market. A few people here are experimenting with Aquaponics Growing Tilapia in ponds and circulating the fish effluent through grow areas for vegetable gardens. Im thinking of doing some trays along the runs so the Chickens can graze without destroying the plants completely. Swiss Chard Cabbage green beans peas ... Plus doing some sprouted grains like wheat and lentils... Not totally organic but as organic as I can.

    The tilapia also can be used for a protien source. They do quite well in the desert because they came from africa. Though our temps get a little too low for them in winter. I suspect a tank heater to keep the water above 45 degrees in winter should do the trick. At one point I had over three hundred gallons of various aquariums ranging from Turtles to Discus. But when I found out about aquaponics I thought.... Hmmmmm.... I might be able to do this.

    I have decent well water albeit a bit hard Though I am very concious about every drop therefore water here is only used for livestock and people. I dont plant grass or water trees that dont belong in the desert so I have never done a garden. But I have no problems doing aquaponics...
     

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