Starting a flock isn't a piece of cake

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by 10Grandchicks, Apr 27, 2015.

  1. 10Grandchicks

    10Grandchicks Out Of The Brooder

    Jun 26, 2014
    West Tennessee
    Last June, I bought 10 chicks. BSL and RSL. I have a huge old chicken house but it wasn't in shape to accommodate guests at the time. I kept them in a 10x10 dog pen lined with poultry netting. I have since fixed up the chicken house, where I house 5 laying hens and one white leghorn rooster. I absolutely love my chickens and I have one hen (lorp) setting. The first time I've had one go broody so I am excited about the experience of new chicks. The nesting boxes are about 3 ft. from the floor and I am concerned that the chicks will fall from the nest and how the other adults will treat them. Should I place the mother hen and her chicks in a coop by themselves for a while?

    I also have 4 SL pullets that I have separated. At what age should I try to house them with the adult chickens? They are 6 wks. old and eating chick starter crumbles.
  2. Judy

    Judy Chicken Obsessed Staff Member Premium Member

    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    I prefer to separate a sitting broody while she is sitting, then allow her to raise the chicks within the flock. While seetting, the others will get in her nest, may keep her off her eggs or cause her to mistakenly sit on the wrong nest, cause extra jostling of the eggs, may get harassed by other hens - and so forthl But once the chicks hatch, they want to be with the flock, and a good mama hen will protect the chicks from the other hens, who may try to harass them. This way, when she is through mothering at 4 to6 weeks (this varies a lot,) they chicks will already be accepted as part of the flock -- no integration issues.

    I would house the 6 week old pullets separately but next to the rest of the flock, probably 2 months or so, til they look about the same size, then try integrating while everyone is busy foraging and maybe getting their treats.
  3. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Overrun With Chickens

    Nov 12, 2009
    western South Dakota
    My nests are that high and that is no problem for the chicks. A couple of points, as you sound new to this: Put all your eggs under her at one time, don't put too many eggs under her, I have frequently tried 12 under a full size hen, but have much better luck with 8, mark the eggs so that you know if there are extra, I have had a broody hen take eggs and move them into her nest.

    Sometimes when you move a hen, she will move back. Personally, I don't have a real big set up, and I leave mine in the coop/run with the flock. She keeps her pecking order, or even rises, and when they hatch, she will protect them, and they are naturally integrated into the flock. It works a treat.

    Every broody hen I have had, hatches them out for about 12 hours, and then leaves the nest and creates a new clean nest on the floor. When her time is getting close, I put fresh bedding down.

    It is a lot of fun, a broody hen with chicks.

    Mrs K
  4. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Nope, not a piece of cake.
    The learning curve can be steep and getting the facilities set up can be a lot of work.
    But once you get it down and some experience under your belt, it gets much easier.

    I built my coop with 2 people doors and a temporary wire 'wall' that goes up with 4 screws. Best design decision I made.
    Then I added another pop door and a separate but adjacent run.
    The coop 'partition' has been used to isolate a rogue cockerel, raise chicks until point of lay, housed a broody hen this winter and is soon to be home to another batch of chicks. I wish I had room for a couple more partitions.

    My nests are high too and only enough for the the partition wall went up and broody got relocated there in the portable floor nest.
    It was too brutal cold to mess around with any problems from other hens and she wouldn't set the floor nest until it was the only option.
    Took her a day to settle back down on fake eggs, she was not happy at first, then she got fresh fertile eggs.
    2 weeks after hatch I removed the wall and she integrated the chicks into the flock with only a few (tho violent) pecking order skirmishes.

  5. 10Grandchicks

    10Grandchicks Out Of The Brooder

    Jun 26, 2014
    West Tennessee
    As my thread tells, I started with chicks bought from a local seller. June 2014. They became so tame I could feed them from my hand. I currently have 2 RSL, 2BSL, and 4 Austrolorp's laying. When one of the lorps hatched 11 chicks last April, the mother was completely dedicated to them. That was great but I couldn't get near them and have been stand-offish ever since.

    Pullets and Roos from that hatch began roosting in the trees when they got old enough to fly up that far and the only way I can get near them is when they go to the door of the chicken house in the mornings to get to feed and water. I let them in, but I also allow the hens to range later on in the day so the wild ones get away and back to the trees to roost. I'm not concerned about the roos, but the pullets should start laying any time now and I think my best bet is to keep them penned up. I wonder if they will ever roost voluntarily in the chicken house. If I allow another hatch, I may take the chicks away from the mother (ugh) and into a separate area of the chicken house for a few months so they won't be so strange.

    Has anyone experienced this?

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