Tag Archives: flock

The DIY Life: Keeping Chickens Series, Part 3

26 Apr

This week, I combined the two different breeds of chicks into the one large pen. The Barred Plymouth Rock Chicks quickly outgrew their little tote abode and were in need of more space. At 4 weeks old, they were beefy enough to be able to at least defend themselves against the larger Golden Laced Wyandotte. For those of you that aren’t familiar with keeping chickens, combining different aged chicks can be slightly dangerous because there is literally a pecking order. The older birds are familiar with each other so pecking of each other is limited to the head lady wanting to eat, drink, or perch somewhere specific. Currently, they are still figuring out their pecking order, but live pretty nicely together. The new chicks? They are basically viewed at outsiders and can be pecked to death by other birds if they don’t learn their place and learn it pretty fast.

So, in order to lessen the hazards, I gingerly dropped the younger birds in with the older while the older ones were distracted in a corner eating lettuce. It seemed to work pretty well. There was pecking by one bird who seems to be the bully of the group, but she was easily chased off when we tapped her on her rear with a stick when she seemed to be getting too aggressive. If this behavior keeps up I’ll separate her from the group and put her in a sort of isolation for a day or two to drop her down a couple pegs in the chicken hierarchy.

But that all said, the birds are doing wonderful. They are growing, their feathers are coming in, and everyone seems healthy. The ducks are HUGE! Well, one duck specifically. The other lady is big, but she’s dwarfed by her giant-sized sister. It’s amazing how something that fit in the palm of my hand 6 weeks ago now requires a 2 hand hold on her midsection to keep her still.

Over the next couple of weeks we will start building the chicken coop. We’ve got the metal roofing on order and the hubs thinks he has finalized his design plan. There will be a fenced in run for them to mingle in with a human sized door so the hubs and I can get in and let the ladies out in the morning. Stay tuned for photos of the coop in progress!

*A note to those of you new to keeping chickens about combining different aged birds/breeds – You have to be careful when doing this not only for the pecking, but for the chance of disease being spread. Make sure to read up on ways to combine your old and new flock to avoid losing any of your birds. I did not have to worry about this as my chicks all came from the same hatchery, so they would all have been exposed to the same type of environment and “germs”. Any dormant “germs” they carry won’t affect any of the other chicks since they all come from the same place. I am no expert, so consult the experts. My knowledge is if they are not from the same hatchery, there  needs to be a quarantine period before old and new can cohabitate.