Wednesday, July 6, 2011

New additions

We decided to add a few more chickens to our flock.  Four eggs a day simply isn't enough for our family and we love the idea of having more chickens.  Two little girls now call our yard home.  Our dear friend Lynn picked them up from Western Farm Supply when she got 5 chicks for her family.  Lynn needed to get more chicks as all of her chickens were eaten by a raccoon.   Yes, apparently a predator proof chicken coop really is necessary.

Lynn raised our chicks with her own for 6 weeks (thank you Lynn!).  Now we have them.  They are giant Cochins, the ones with the feathered feet.  Gage named them Elizabeth and Flower.  They are growing quickly, but far too small to join our flock.

I have introduced them to the flock slowly with a fence between them, and Minnow our top hen wants to kill them.  I don't mean she wants to peck them or chase them around, she wants to kill them and she has tried.  She puffs up her neck, spreads out her wings and makes a noise that is something between and growl and a scream - ready for the attack.

So, the chicks live in their own pen with a a little coop I borrowed from a friend and neighbor.  When they get a little bigger, around 3 months I will built them a pen inside the current chicken pen for a couple of weeks and then begin introductions with the big girls.  If Minnow is still trying to kill them, she will live in the chick pen on her own for a couple of days or weeks, however long it takes her to chill out.  Then one night all of the chickens will be stuffed into the big coop at night to wake up together and I hope to find a cohesive and friendly flock the following morning.  :)   That is one old-school secret to adding birds to your flock.  Stick the new chickens into the coop at night when everyone is in and roosting.  The theory is they wake up thinking the new chickens are members of the flock and accept them.  This does not work 100% time, particularly if you are adding younger birds. I will let you know how it goes with my flock.  The one thing I do know about roosting birds is they are incredibly docile.  Once a chicken goes to sleep for the night or even as they get ready for sleep they calm down, settle in and let go.  I hope they can keep that calmness first thing in the morning as well.

Adding chickens to your established flock can be rough.  Take your time, be creative and try to understand chicken flock social dynamics and home turf mentality.  Always try to add bird of approximately the same age or size, young chicks added to a flock will most likely be killed.  Lastly keep your fingers crossed.

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