The logistics of adding new chickens to flock (everyone is young!)

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by ChickenFajita6, May 29, 2017.

  1. ChickenFajita6

    ChickenFajita6 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    So we are raising our first little chickie babies. All 6 were purchased at Tractor Supply at 3 days old, in mid March. That puts them at almost 11 weeks now. Someone locally is selling two 4 month old hens that I'd like to get (different breeds than what we have, what can I say I like variety lol) but I am having trouble figuring out the logistics of the whole "quarantine" and "introduce slowly" thing. We have one coop, and one run. I think we could pretty easily fence off part of the run to allow them separate spaces for a couple weeks while they slowly acclimate, but I don't know what to do at night? We still have our brooder box in the garage, but I am worried that 4 month old chickens will be too big (mostly too tall) for it. I don't want to stress them out any more than they will probably already be!

    I know my girls have the home court advantage, but the 2 new girls would be older, so maybe that balances out?

    I'd love advice, opinions, or your personal experiences with something like this.
     
  2. yoopergirl1211

    yoopergirl1211 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Do they free range? Weve had pretty good luck letting them meet each other outside in neutral territory then moving them into coop together. Normaly seperated by a removable wall or if its only one or two then a cage so they can see each other. Try not to stress to much about it. With their ages it shouldn't be too hard. The first time we did it I had to introduce roosters and I was sick with worry and it ended up not being a big deal. Just remember that there will be a little pecking to work out whos top boss and if you have someone thats super aggressive put them in time out for a few days.
     
  3. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    Please take this new addition slowly. Chickens introduced from another source other than from NPIP certified breeders and hatcheries can carry dormant but very contagious viruses that no amount of quarantine can detect. I know this from personal experience, and you can regret it for the rest of your flock's life.

    Research your source carefully, and find out if they've been tested and cleared for avian viruses such as Marek's, lymphotic leucosis, and chronic respiratory disease such as Mycoplasma for starters. Infected individuals will show no signs of illness yet be carriers for life after being exposed.

    If you can get safely past this danger, introducing older hens to younger birds is no big deal. You simply keep them in proximity with see-through barriers for a week or so while all of them become acquainted.

    Having plenty of space when you merge them is key. That the younger ones outnumber the older hens is to the younger ones' advantage. Be ready to referee, but a little pecking on the heads is to be expected. Don't intervene unless you see ganging up on a single individual by both older ones.
     
  4. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Overrun With Chickens

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    Personally, I don't think you will have any problem. They should be close in size, a months difference, a slight advantage to the two older ones, and the 4 original have home court. I would throw them all together and not worry about it.

    BUT - before you do this, MEASURE your set up. As none of these birds are full grown, and full grown birds take more room. We ALL have been bitten by chicken math at one time or another, (I think I am having a small case of it now). Many, many problems are caused by too many chickens in too small of a space. One can cheat a bit in the summer, with the long days, short nights, but come fall, birds have to have enough space in the coop. It does not matter if you free range in the winter, they spend most of the long nights in the coop.

    Remember chicken math works both ways, addition and subtraction, and with chickens, less numbers, makes more space.

    MRs K
     
  5. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    I agree on the quarantine thing. Chickens can develop flock immunities that no amount of quarantine can detect. If the chickens come from a somewhat closed flock (no new chickens in the last month or more), if the people keeping them would recognize a disease if they saw it, and if they would be honest with you, the birds have effectively been in quarantine. Quarantine is pretty much for animals that come from auctions or sales where they have very recently come into contact with new animals. In those cases it can be very valuable.

    The vast majority of the "flock immunities" you see are things that are more of a nuisance than life threatening if you treat them. Cocci is a common one. Cocci can be dangerous if untreated but they will quickly develop an immunity when exposed as long as you don't let it overwhelm them. Your flock may be the one harboring a flock immunity so the new birds may be the ones getting sick. Parasites like mites, lice, or worms are a common problem too. Lots of folks bring in new chickens from chicken stocks and such all the time with or without a proper quarantine and just don't have serious problems, but I fully believe what Azygous said. It's rare but disasters do happen. It's part of dealing with animals.

    Diseases can spread by them sharing food or water, from being exposed to each other's poop, by the wind, or by mosquitoes. A proper quarantine involves housing them totally apart where wind cannot spread anything. If they are house side by side across wire their scratching will assure they are exposed to each other's poop. You need to use different food and watering containers to carry and at least change shoes when you go from one to the other. A lot of people on this forum that think they are going through quarantine really are not, yet they seldom have problems. But there is always a risk.

    if you really want those two I wouldn't let it stop me, especially if they are from a somewhat closed flock. There is a risk but it is probably pretty low. Life is full of risks.

    Many of us integrate all the time. How much room you have in your coop and in your run are very important questions. A photo or two can help too. It's hard to give specific suggestions if you don't know what you are dealing with. We can give you all the generic stuff like housing them next to each other and providing separate feeding and water stations to ease integration, but specifics on how to do that in your specific circumstances are hard when we don't know what we are dealing with.
     
  6. ChickenFajita6

    ChickenFajita6 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Well, I decided against getting the 2 girls. The more I read and researched the breed of one of them, I decided she really would be best in a home she could free range in (which is not mine). And since she wasn't a fit, I had to pass on the other girl because I didn't want to introduce just one new chicken and have her be bullied (the breeds were Gold Campine and a silkie/Cuckoo Maran cross).

    I'm not sure how it will ever work to add anyone to the flock. I feel like once they're adults it would just be harder, and reading about diseases makes me afraid of ever introducing them to others! I think our coop is big enough though, but I am not sure how that chicken math goes. This is what we have so far (still a work in progress to pretty it up and trim it out):
    the coop.jpg
     
  7. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Overrun With Chickens

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    wow - looks very nice. When you are done building, store those saw horses in your run, with a board on top. Gives better use of the horizontal space. And I would leave that scrap lumber in the back, leaned up against the wall, gives a hide out, you could spread them out a bit. A very nice set up, I would think you could go 7-8, but just eyeballing it without measurements, I would not go higher than 8.

    Once can add chicks pretty safely without the worry of established diseases. Putting a small coop in the end of the L shaped pen, would be easy, block it off with a lattice panel and it would be a quick and easy introduction.

    Just remember, when you start adding, you have to subtract, when you hatch, you are going to get too many roosters. Many have a static flock like you are preposing, but I keep a flock of birds, going on ten years, the birds come and go.

    Mrs K
     
  8. ChickenFajita6

    ChickenFajita6 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks for your advice. So far we have only hens, and intend to keep it that way. They were all purchased as pullets from Tractor Supply, and I have my fingers crossed that's what they all are, LOL. We shouldn't have any surprise babies - I could never have them reproducing on their own because I'd get terribly attached to them all and eventually I'd be the crazy old lady with 100 chickens and I'm SURE that would be breaking some local ordinance, haha.
     

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