To add to the flock or not add, that is the question...

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by happymom99, Feb 5, 2012.

  1. happymom99

    happymom99 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 6, 2011
    California
    Hello. I am hoping people with more experience with chickens can give me their opinion on this.

    I have a flock of five, down from seven. I got them all as pullets at the same time. My hens all get along with one another so well and they have gotten along well right from the start. They have their pecking order but they don't fight and no one is picked on. I would really like to get 2-4 more chickens but after seeing some horror stories on this board about chickens not getting along well and being picked on, I am not so sure. I have seen on Craigslist, a number of times, people getting rid of a chicken and saying it is because she is getting picked on in her flock. I just saw a picture on this board with a bloody face from being picked on. :(

    Is this sort of abuse very common?

    I really like that I don't have to worry about anyone getting picked on or hurt in my flock. Even my lead girl is so sweet and I never see her pick on anyone. Did I just get lucky with my flock that they are all nice to one another? If I add more chickens to my flock is is likely there will be problems or do I have a good chance they will get along?

    In case it matters, I am considering getting a black copper marans, a buff orpington, a brahma and a barred rock.

    Thank you so much for any thoughts and input you have.

    CJ
    Black Austrolorp, Blue Andalusian, Welsumer, Ameracauna, Gold-Laced Cochin
     
  2. StarLover21

    StarLover21 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oct 11, 2011
    Hi,

    It really depends on the hen. I would say add to the flock- you just have to be careful. Keep your chickens seperate until they are the same size. I'm guessing that the bloody face you saw was my White Leghorn hen. I may be wrong- but I did post here recently about here with a picture where she had a bloody face. She has had a VERY hard life. My two older hens have been alone together, with no other chickens for maybe three years, so it was kind of hard for them to adjust. Sage (WL), was the only chicken of her siblings that survived a raccon attack when they were still very young. We have a nice secure coop now. And so, we had to introduce her by herself. This is an awful, awful thing to do. If you get chickens, you need to make sure they have a buddy. We didn't know much about chickens back then, and we just went ahead and did it. She was picked on, and we removed her, and let her grow older, with some advice from BYC. That's when, and why, I joined. Then we got her some buddies. Unfortunatally, they were younger than her, and so they are more bonded with eachother, although Sage served as their mother, even sheltering them under her wings. Once they were full grown, we re-introduced. However, it's still hard for my older hens to adjust. And white leghorns are so small. My red sex link, production red, and her buddies, black sex links, all dwarf her now. She's been through hawk attacks, racoon attacks, flying into yards with dogs (no, we do not free range, we live in the city). I'm not sure if she will ever fit in :(. We have her seperated again for now.

    So just make sure you have your hens a buddy. Our freinds chickens were fine with their new arrivals. It really just depends on the hen. Don't let my story discourage you- it works out well with many people! I just wanted to let you know my hen's situation. No- it's not all that common. Some feather picking is normal- they'll settle in.
     
  3. ChicKat

    ChicKat Overrun With Chickens Premium Member

    This is a great question.

    In short, I would say yes, you should get new chickens, at least eventually. Like you, my older chooks are so docile, and never squabble or fight, but occasionally one will peck the other one, then it is over. Like you I feel very lucky!.

    Part of this has to do with their environment, space, food access, individual breed temperament, and probably lots of other factors.

    Just now I am introducing two "new" chickens to my three "old" chickens.

    They have known about each other for about 14 weeks now. They have had separate environments, and just this last week I am allowing them to free range together.

    It surprises me when my usually very docile chickens will light after one of the new ones...and give her a peck...but, because they are free ranging at the time, the one being pecked can get away. Their latest trick is to go into the other set of hen's enclosure and eat that set of chicken's feed, although the feed for both comes out of the same feed sack. (well---chickens you know how they are...)

    In free-range time, they have pretty much established their pecking order, the older ones higher, then the newer ones, as you would expect partially because of the age differences. I have a gold sex-link, I think she may be 2-years plus--because I am now considering her laying days over---and I think she is finishing her second molt. Two barred rocks who will be 17 months in April, and my new ones are a white leghorn hybrid (Ideal 235), who began laying in October...and last an Easter Egger who is just approaching 20-weeks.

    For an additional 12-weeks I kept the new ones apart from the old ones, because I lost one of the new ones to Marek's.

    So the flock dynamics are pretty easy in my anticipation. Now I realize that most people don't have the ability to run two coops and runs at the same time, and wouldn't have to wait 12-extra weeks...but the gradual introduction of new chickens to old chickens lessens the stress and fear of a threat to their well being and food supply for the older chickens. If you have the ability to take your time.

    Agreeing with the above poster, don't just introduce one--- and have the new chickens be 16-20 weeks. But other factors like the number of chickens that you have, and the size of facilities, and the amount of time free-ranging or pasturing, and of course all the various breeds are factors. It sounds like you have quite a few, and you would like to add quite a few more---so it will be different than say 4 old ones and 2 new ones.

    Sorry to be so long winded. I think if someone wants continual egg production, then they need to introduce new chickens from time to time. The various approaches include mixing the old and the new (which is the approach I am planning for the future, rather than the all-in, all-out style of commercial producers.)

    If there is one or if there are one or two that cannot get along either due to being too aggressive or being picked on, then hopefully that chicken could be rehomed.

    Good luck with what you decide....what ever happens, it is going to be an interesting time for you.

    ETA - another helpful hint is have extra feed and water stations when they first get together....so that there is plenty for every one of them -- in different locations, and they don't see others as quite as severe competioint.
     
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2012
  4. happymom99

    happymom99 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 6, 2011
    California
    yes, starlover, it was your hen that I saw. Poor girl. :( I hope life gets easier for her soon.

    ChickKat, it is the funniest thing. When you first posted I didn't have a way to have two separate coops but the coolest thing happened. My neighbor gave me an old wooden doghouse that is huge for a doghouse; about 4 feet by 3 feet. We will easily be able to convert it into a coop and put it on our side yard until they are big enough to go in with the big girls.

    So we are going to do it! I am just having a tough Time deciding what to get. If I had my way I would add about a dozen. I am zoned for 5, which I already have. Chicken math strikes again! :)

    Thank you so much your responses. You helped a lot. :)

    CJ
     

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