Need Chicks

seamommy(7bTX)February 9, 2010

I have only one hen left from my original flock, all the other old girls having passed away last year. If I add 30-40 new baby chicks do I need to keep them separate from HennyPenny until they're grown? Or can they be introduced to each other?

This hen went broody last year so I know she has the instinct, but since I didn't have a roo I collected all the eggs. Will she kill the chicks if I put them in together? Or should I just bite the bullet and cull the older hen and start fresh?

My coop is 10'x12' and the enclosure is 40'x 80'. I could build an additional enclosure inside the coop for the chicks until they're about 2 months old, but I don't want them to start pecking each other. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Cheryl

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johanna_h(Z5 SW MI)

My concern is 30-40 full grown chickens in a 10x12 coop. That sounds crowded to me. Will these be meat chickens? Or maybe since you're in Texas they spend most of their time outside and only come in to roost at night? Here in blizzard country that wouldn't work!

I'd say you might try a few of the chicks with the hen to see how she does. If she accepts them without aggression, then you could integrate that group into the overall group. But this is just theory, I've never done that!

When I added my chicks last summer, I waited until they were about 6 weeks old, then they were in an enclosure within the coop so the adults could see and hear them but not touch them, and then finally after another week or two they mingled in. Didn't have any trouble with this method.

Here is a link that might be useful: My place: Busy Solitude Farm

    Bookmark   February 9, 2010 at 12:53PM
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seamommy(7bTX)

My chickens go outside every day of the year. Even on our coldest days they will venture outside to poke around the yard. The feeder station is outside the coop as is the waterer.

They have a small hatch they can go in and out of whenever they want to, and I keep the people door closed. The yard has an 8' high fence of chicken wire to keep out predators. It doesn't have a roof however and sometimes I'll lose a chicken to a hawk or an owl. I have tried running strings over the top in a random pattern to foil birds and that seems to work pretty well for most of them.

We also have a couple of life sized scare-crows out there that blow in the wind that repell most other predators. We have a clothesline strung from one side to the other and the scarecrow is a pair of coveralls hanging on the line by the sleeves. Even gives me the creeps sometimes.

The coop is raised up off the ground about 15" so they like to hide under there during hot weather or when there are large birds flying over. In the summer time some of the grass in the hen yard gets to be over 5' high and they really seem to like it. I haven't found anyone nesting in it yet, but I expect to someday.

You're right though about the coop, I will have to add a couple more poles for roosting for that many chickens. I only have 4 nest boxes, think I should add more of them too? Cheryl

    Bookmark   February 9, 2010 at 2:43PM
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johanna_h(Z5 SW MI)

Oh, definitely more nest boxes -- figure one for every 4-5 hens, so four-six more.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2010 at 5:51PM
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calliope(6)

I really doubt you're going to have problems with a solitary hen if you add chicks to the coop. She'll prolly want to adopt them. I add chicks to my coop nearly every spring, and I've had a few mean old hens give them a peck to show them who's boss, but no outright dangerous aggression. There is usually a hen or two who takes as many as she can under her wings at night to keep them warm. Even had a gentle old roo who did that, or slept on the hay in front of the hen in a corner of the coop and guarded the foster mother.

If you see actions what make you concerned, it would be easier to cage the hen for a few weeks. I usually put a wire cage in my coop when I introduce chicks that they can run between the wires off, but a hen can't follow. When they get scared, they all scurry off to the cage and the hens can't get to them.

You can't just introduce newly hatched chicks into a coop, however. If you haven't been down that road, day-olds need to be brooded under a heat lamp in some sort of brooding box or pen, and the light gradually withdrawn as they become used to outside temps. I've brooded them out of a coop and also brooded them in a coop with lights in a protected pen. The hens are used to them by the time I release them into the general population.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2010 at 12:18AM
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seamommy(7bTX)

Thanks for the good info everyone. I'm going to get on that brooder this weekend. I'll be glad when the really cold weather is past because I don't like to get out in it much anymore. But that coop needs cleaned and sanitized before I do anything else.

I haven't tried adding chicks to the flock because I had never heard that the hens might have adopted them. All I ever heard about was the old hens pecking the babies to death.

I'm looking forward to having a roo or two again-our last one flew over the fence one day last Spring and never came back. I chased him for a long time but couldn't catch him. I still hear a rooster crowing in the mornings sometimes but don't know if it's him. Cheryl

    Bookmark   February 10, 2010 at 8:10AM
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seamommy(7bTX)

I put two of the new chicks in the coop late yesterday and they promptly burrowed into the hay for warmth. But HennyPenny heard them chirping and went to the nest box. I then went back out after dark and put the chicks under her and by this morning they were all one big happy family. I took 7 more out this morning and she pecked me and got very huffy when I approached. So as far as she knows they're her babies. What a great little hen she is! She has 9 chicks under wing right now and I have 7 more to take to her.

I'm keeping them all in the coop until the chicks get a little older and this cold weather is past. I am also building a screen door to the coop so that on nice days I can open it up and they will all be safe and still get some fresh air. Cheryl

    Bookmark   February 22, 2010 at 1:20PM
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gardengalrn(5KS)

How cute! Be sure to get some pics. I hatched out several chicks last spring and I had forgotten how sweet it is to watch a momma hen with her babies. Lori

    Bookmark   February 22, 2010 at 7:36PM
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vieja_gw(z7NM)

We had a hen that went broody every year... sat on the nest on her unfertile eggs (no rooster) & wouldn't eat or drink til she was skin & bones! Went to the feed store & got a newly hatched chick & son went in the coop one night with a flashlight & placed the chick under her. Next morning there she was strutting around the chicken yard so proud showing off her 'baby'!! So cute ... except we had to go through this routine every year with her!

    Bookmark   February 26, 2010 at 1:13PM
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