Starting a flock

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by TaraMiller78, Mar 3, 2014.

  1. TaraMiller78

    TaraMiller78 Hatching

    Mar 3, 2014
    We are starting our flock, but I don't want to start with peeps. I see you can buy older chickens (28-63 days old) through Murray McMurray Hatcheries. My question is...If I mix and match different breeds and order 10 chickens, will they be okay to put together when they arrive? Will they get along? Anything I need to do to help them adjust?

    Thanks for any info.
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    That’s a good question. At that age they will pretty much be ready to go outside without heat, depending in where you live and your climate. That will certainly make it easier.

    You’ll have to go through an integration. Every chicken will need to know its place in the social order of the flock. That may go so smoothly you think we’re crazy for even mentioning it. It may be a disaster. To me, one really big key is how much room you have. One way chickens have learned to live together in a flock is if there is a confrontation, the weaker runs away from the stronger or just avoids the bullies to start with. As long as there is room to run away even if chased a bit and room to avoid, it almost always works out. When space is tight is when you are likely to have a disaster.

    What I expect you to see when you put them together is that there will be some face-offs and skirmishes over the course of a couple of days. Usually very quickly one decides that they are better off running away than sticking around so it’s usually not that serious. If they are fairly evenly matched it can go on longer, but even then it normally ends with running away and chasing. If one gets bloodied, it’s probably a good idea to remove it until it heals a bit or at least stops bleeding. They might peck at a bleeding or raw wound and kill the chick. That doesn’t happen with all wounds, even bloody ones, but it can.

    Another risk is Coccidiosis. Coming from a hatchery like McMurray I really expect them to be disease free. Those places take biosecurity extremely seriously because their livelihood depends on it. But once they hit the ground, they can pick up the Coccidiosis bug from the ground. It may be living in your dirt. I suggest you learn the signs of Coccidiosis and be on the watch for it. They don’t always have bloody poop with coccidiosis despite a popular myth on here. Try to keep things dry too, especially the first three weeks after they are exposed to the ground. That’s when the greatest risk is, the first three weeks after they are exposed. After that, they should have strengthened their immunity to it.

    I personally don’t use medicated feed, but I don’t raise them the way you are talking about doing. It might be a good idea to make their first bag of feed one medicated with Amprolium for extra protection against Coccidiosis. Just feed it until it runs out. It won’t necessarily prevent them from coming down with a case, but it will help protect them while they are developing immunity.

    Those are my two big suggestions, space and watch for Coccidiosis. Good luck!
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