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Introducing new hens?
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notasausage · 16/04/2012 21:28

I've just ordered my henhouse but wondered how I go about introducing new birds if I only have one house as I've read you need to separate them? Am going to get some pekin bantams probably at about 3 weeks old and am still looking for a supplier of bigger birds.

Can I introduce p.o.l birds to youngsters and how do I do this with only one house?

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Millie1 · 16/04/2012 21:36

Shall watch with interest notasausage. We have three girls, two years old now (Orp, Sussex and New Hampshire Red). Last year tried to introduce Pekins and fenced off a small area adjacent to hen house for the Pekins. Gave them an old dolls house (!!!) to shelter in during the day and popped them in the hen-house with the other three at night. It worked okay but then the Pekins started to crow Grin so they went back to the breeder and I didn't replace them! However, am now thinking of sneaking maybe a Maran and one other in past DH but wondering how to do this with one hen house - admitting that the dolls house wasn't ideal and would be too small for daytime shelter for bigger chooks! Another hen house is out of the question for us just now - I've seen people advise using even a rabbit hutch for the first while - and keep them separate but within sight during the day. What bigger girls are you thinking of?

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Grockle · 16/04/2012 22:01

I've always put the old chickens in a different coop and put the new girls in the proper home for a week or so to let them settle. The old girls can then see the new ones while they free-range. When the new hens are strong enough (my new ones have been ex-battery hens), I let the old ones back into the main house. Then the mayhem begins. I never realised how ferocious chickens could be Angry

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Tidybush · 16/04/2012 22:23

We introduced 3 ex batts last year, fenced off a section of the run and provided a big cardboard box for a coop. It was in the summer though and quite warm.

After a week we let the older chooks free range in the garden and gave the ex batts access to the whole run and coop. In the afternoon we let the ex batts into the garden where they then all had plenty of space to meet up.

They sorted themselves out pretty quickly with just a bit of squabbling every now and then for a few days.

I'd recommend ex batts every time now, they are far more friendly and interesting than our expensive pure breeds and it's fantastic to see them have a good old dust bath in our wrecked flower beds Grin

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notasausage · 18/04/2012 07:17

I was thinking of Black Rocks but can't find a local supplier so will probably go with a mixture of Sussex, Speckeldy and Maran. I've found some advice on the omlet forum advising the use of a rabbit hutch or similar and to look on freecycle to get one so I'm going to try that.

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boomting · 25/04/2012 01:42

You really don't want to get chicks at three weeks old. They're too old to be excessively cute (will have started feathering out), but still young enough for their care to be an (expensive) pain. At that age, they will need heat lamps and chick crumbs. At 6-8 weeks, they can be weaned off heat and off chick crumbs, onto growers pellets. From (not before!) 16 weeks or so, they can be weaned onto layers pellets.

Honestly, you'll be much better off buying chickens at somewhere between 16 weeks and point of lay (POL; 21 weeks). Not only will they be easier to care for, you'll actually have some hope of having eggs this summer (chicks born at this time of year may, or may not, dane to actually lay this side of next spring, as the shortening of daylight hours reduces egg laying capacity, sometimes to 0).

Introducing birds can be a royal PITA (and it's a spectacularly bad idea to put 3 week old chicks in with unfamiliar adults). They need to be in adjacent runs where they can see each other for a few days. The next bit has two schools of thought
a) put in the newbies at night, so that they all wake up together, hopefully imagining that it was always that way (they're not that bright...). However, you do need to be down at the coop at dawn to monitor things - I made that mistake once and found the newbie being attacked quite viciously.
b) chuck 'em in together in daylight, so you can see what happens.
This may, or may not, however, work first off. If it doesn't, you can either return the newbie to the adjacent run, or (if it's only one hen doing the attacking), move the perpetrator to the adjacent run, and leave the newbie in the main run.

If you don't have a spare run, then it is possible to fashion one v. cheaply using some stiff-but-flexible plastic trellis (I can't be sure, but this looks like the right stuff www.wilkinsonplus.com/netting+trellis/wilko-get-gardening-multi-mesh-50cmx5m/invt/0008666/?htxt=PsAGyAqy%2FDSGVBgOHPBfATKVETOKIWHcwqoICuDrG%2FxTcDPfxIrYzUvEu76RzzM6wutKTeo9AOCB%0AtDs76aYYKg%3D%3D ), tied together with some cable ties, and with offcuts of wooden batons around the bottom to weigh it down / keep the shape at the bottom (attach using hoop nails or whatever it is that they're called). Use tent pegs to secure it to the ground. Shelter / shade can be found in the form of an open umbrella over the top.

Obviously not a great idea if you have audacious daytime foxes (and they will need to be brought in overnight, and in particularly inclement weather), but ours has also served excellently as an isolation cage (with newspaper on the floor, in the utility room!) and a broody-breaker (with some of the same mesh as a floor, to make sitting uncomfortable, kept off the ground a few inches with some more scrap wood, to keep a breeze going around the breast . . . I diverge.

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