Saturday, September 29, 2012

Adding New Chicks to the Flock

I am fairly new to chicken ownership, and I've been having to kind of "learn as I go." Our feed store is helpful with teaching me what food and bedding materials to use, but when it comes to the actual care of the chickens, I'm on my own. (Thankfully I have the internet to guide me.... though some things you just have to figure out on your own).

My first obstacle came when one of my original chicks turned out to be a rooster. I don't have anything against roosters, but I wasn't about to have him crow each morning and wake the neighbors (I live in town, not in the country). The other reason I couldn't keep the rooster is a mental thing. I am fine eating fresh eggs as long as I am SURE that they are not fertilized. I do not EVER want to crack open an egg and see part of a chick forming. Eww.

See my post here for how I dealt with that situation.

Everything went along smoothly and my chicks started laying beautiful and delicious eggs. With three hens, I was getting about a dozen eggs a week. This amount was just about right for my family of five. 

My next obstacle came when I decided to get a few more chickens so I could have extra eggs to sell or give away. I got some more chicks and kept them in the garage to grow big enough to add to the flock. They grew, and soon it was time to put them outside with the others. Easy, right? Wrong.

My lead hen, Flag (the red one in the pictures below) was a little upset at my wanting to disturb her pecking order and decided that she would attack the little ones. 

I was stuck. The little ones were too big to keep in the garage and too little to put in with the other hens.

Long story short, I ended up putting the little chicks in an enclosed area within the fenced area where the other hens are. You can see in the first picture the coop on the right and the little chicks' enclosure on the left (baby gate type enclosure with  cardboard top). 

After about two weeks, the hens got used to the chicks being around and I was able to integrate them. My red hen still pecked them, but they quickly fell into line in her "pecking order" and now all six are getting along fine. Well, almost. The three little ones (who aren't little any more) still don't roost inside the coop, but rather on the roof! And when I feed I have to make two food areas because Flag chases the chicks away from her food. Oh well, at least she isn't trying to peck them to death any more, right?

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