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Mixed flock....how far can I go?

Posted by sullicorbitt z5 MA (My Page) on
Thu, Feb 15, 07 at 8:45

I currently have around 25 chickens, all full size and about 9 different breeds. So far (except for a few squabbles) everyone gets along ok. They all free range during the day on about 1/4 acre fenced yard along w/my 4 ducks.

My son is interested in getting a couple of fancy breeds like silkie and polish but I am hesitant since they are so different looking I'm afraid they may get picked on? Does anyone have any experience with this?

Thanks,
Sheila


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Mixed flock....how far can I go?

Hi Sheila,
I've only got 7 birds currently, but have two Barred Rocks, one Silkie, one Americana mix, and two Barred/Silkie crosses. So far- no problems at all. The Barred roo obviously took to the Silkie hen. We had about 12 birds last spring but lost two and gave three young roos away.

Silkies are definately not aggressive. They are the cutest little bundles of feathers! On the serious side, they are great brooders and mothers and very consistent egg layers, though the eggs are smaller. I'd like to get more Silkies.

Good luck!


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RE: Mixed flock....how far can I go?

Sheila,

I started my flock a year ago this May. It couldn't be more of a "mixed bag" of varities. I have: 3 Barred Rock, 1 Andulusian, 1 Standard Polish, 1 Bantam Polish, 4 Bantam Ameraucanas, 2 Standard Ameraucanas, 1 Bantam Buff Orpington, 1 Bantam Pencil Rock, 1 Dutch Rooster, 1 Maran Cockeral, 7 Silkies (one is a rooster)....I think that's about right...for today's count.

I'm hatching Silkies right now...and am in eastern MA (if you are interested in some).

You have to watch adding any birds to the flock. I keep my Silkies separate from the rest...but on nice days, I'll let them all out together without a problem. The Polish have been just fine with the others. Every time you add any birds, they will set up a new pecking order.

Karen
(oh, yes, there's a Welsummer and an Ancona too!!!)


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RE: Mixed flock....how far can I go?

I have a really mixed breed of chickens 110 approx of who knows how many different kinds stop counting after 25. Silkies are a big part of mine. Polish also. They all get a long and actually have babies that were hatched because my polish liked my silkies pretty cute guys. Every seems to get along except for that roo that tends to be aggressive and hes about to get a pot.


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RE: Mixed flock....how far can I go?

I've always had just one breed, but I think as long as they have lots of space that serious problems are unlikely. Go for it, Sheila!


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RE: Mixed flock....how far can I go?

Thanks for the replies everyone! it is encouraging to hear of your mixed flocks.

I am currently getting a lot of pressure from my husband to downsize my existing flock before bringing in new birds.....this is always an agonizing thought for me....but I know he is right :(

Hi Maggie, good to hear from you! How are your beautiful goosies????? do they go outside much during this cold weather?

-Sheila


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RE: Mixed flock....how far can I go?

Hi Sheila,

Your hesitation isn't unfounded.

In my experience, my other breeds "go after" the top-hat type chickens. I have about ten or so breeds of chickens; 22 girls and four separate-living roos. Received them at one day old so they grew up together. Polish girl lived for a year and a half until an illness overtook her rather quickly. (Vet visit was in vain). Her "top hat" was picked at many times. I have two creve'couers and I'm always keeping an eye on them because of top hat and their size. One of the two was missing half the head "top hat" feathers which have since regrown. They are pretty small along with Phoenix, and have learned to stay out of the way of the repeat offenders.

Three of our roos are Polish. They go after each others top hat. At the moment, one of the roos has a bald patch in top hat. I had to gather and clean the victim and then reintroduce to kennel at night. (Roos live in 300 sq ft kennel along with one of our pigs). Polish can't see too well and that also puts them at quite a disadvantage with the others.

Just my experience.
Good luck!
Pam


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RE: Mixed flock....how far can I go?

I'm a chicken newbie, my first flock of 8 girls will be a year old the end of March. I decided to get a very mixed flock because the girls are my pets & I thought variety would be nice. I originally intended to keep 6 of the 25 I ordered( I gave the others away) & that would mean 1 of each of the 6 different breeds I ordered. Well I had a buff orp that was sick, so I kept her but also kept another just like her in case she died. That made 7. Then my hubby's favorite chick was an Easter eggger that I was 'sure' would grow up to be a roo, so I kept another just like her. That made 8.
2 buff orps, 2 EEs, 1 barred rock, 1 silver laced wyandotte, 1 black australorp, 1 red sex link.
Well their differences have caused a bit of fighting & its been interesting to observe.
My 2 buff orps stick together & oddly my black australorp who happens to be my top hen hangs out with them a lot & never bullies them. Now do you think they know how closely 'related' they are? HMMMM?
Then at times all three of the black or black & white girls will stick together, but the black australorp will occaisonally bully them but the barred rock & wyandotte will sort of stick together with or without her.
my 2 EEs stick together & get bullied a good bit, they are small & skittish compared to the others.
And the thing that I find sad is that my red sexlink is not included by any of the groups. Her body type is much more tall & lean, unlike all of the other breeds I chose & her feathers are a beautiful orange but so different from the rest. Even at roost time, she is usually off by herself.
She gets chased & bullied frequently.

So in the future, when I start a new flock I'll be sure to at least have pairs of the same breeds.


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RE: Mixed flock....how far can I go?

Thanks for sharing your experiences Pam and Kelly. I agree having more than one of each breed makes good sense. The old saying "birds of a feather flock together" does seem to hold true w/my chickens.

-Sheila


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RE: Mixed flock....how far can I go?

Our 'birds of a feather' definitely don't flock together. With 6 roosters and 64 hens, they have sort of divided up into little harems. We have four breeds of chickens and you can see that their friendships aren't just with their own kind.

The roosters represent each breed and each has a 'mixed harem'. Sometimes it is very hard to tell who is at the top of the pecking order -- the roosters get along fine with each other. People have such a variety of experiences with their flocks and that is what makes this thread so interesting.


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RE: Mixed flock....how far can I go?

Yes--an interesting post! My husband kids me about how much time I spend observing our flock--guess I'm not the only one!
We have a mixed flock and in some cases they pair up, others not. Our original red star hybrid layers (4) hang together. We have 9 pullets that we got last June--the two Columbian Wyandottes tend to be together--they are also the most adventuresome--will head off away from the others without hesitation. The two Speckled Sussex are together sometimes but not always. The EE are of quite different personalities--one is independent, the other quite shy. Three Buff Orphingtons are not often together. One hangs with the older hens, the others mix in with different groups. The older Roooster hangs with the older hens, the one cockerel (Columbian Wyandotte) is still finding his place and the extra cockerel (Silver Spangled Hamburg)spends a lot of time running away from the other cockerel--but he gets along with everyone else--shy and, to his advantage, very fast. Interesting: our bantams usually stay apart (in the coop) but the one--a bigger bantam--now goes about with the big chickens. I have seen the rooster mate her. Has anyone had other experiences with bantams and full sized chickens?
Ohat night the original rooster and his hens are almost always togetherand the two tiny bantams tend to be together. The rest of them end up in different places every night. The Silver Spangled Hamburg does not sleep alonehes often with a couple of girls who are lower in the pecking order. Is that typicallower ranked birds sleeping together?


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RE: Mixed flock....how far can I go?

I got my 3 RI Reds and 4 Ameraucanas in October, 2006 when they were 5 months old. They had been raised together by the previous owner and are still all together now. The Reds are a super-tight click and #1, #2 and #3 in the pecking order. The Ameracaunas are not a click at all - each one is completely individual. None of them stick together. My favorite Ameraucana (Sweetie-Girl-Chicken) recently had an injury so I separated her from the group for 2 days in my house. Then I moved her back into the coop in a big dog crate for a week while still cleaning and treating the injury. The problem was one of the others kept pecking at her vent area where the injury is. Every time she bends over to eat they see the spot like it's a flashing beakon "PECK ME" "PECK ME" "PECK ME". I gave her supervised outings with the group until I thought her wound was healed enough and she could fend for herself. They finally seem to be leaving her rump alone now but the saddest part is that they all push her away from everything. It's made her kind of skiddish. She's doing ok though and blending in a little more each day. Sorry this went on for a while. I just wanted to share my experience with taking one out and putting her back in with the group.
Jill


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