Chickens the same age

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JMcElroy
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Chickens the same age

Post by JMcElroy »

I have two chickens, both 19 weeks. I would like to get another two, but they are 15 weeks. Is it wise to have chickens all the same age, or would I be better waiting a year and getting another two?

I suppose I'm considering the future and them all finished laying at the same time.

What would I do with them then? 4 would be a lot to keep as pets.

bikesandbirdsbob
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Re: Chickens the same age

Post by bikesandbirdsbob »

AGE SHOULD NOT BE A PROBLEM , PECKING ORDER WILL BE INTERESTING , i WOULD HAVE GOT THREE AT THE SAME TIME OR TWO AND TWO .
Let us know how you get on .
Bob
JMcElroy
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Re: Chickens the same age

Post by JMcElroy »

We got 3 at the same time, but the fox got one.

We have 2 and were going to add another 2. Is that what you mean?
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KarenE
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Re: Chickens the same age

Post by KarenE »

what he means is that it's usually better to get 3 at first, in case you lose one so that you don't have just one chicken left if anything happens. As you've found! )t' So the next sensible thing would be to add another 2, as you are planning, as that helps to dissipate aggression during introductions - a bit! introducing just 1 means that 1 hen has all the pecking order aggression directed at her.

Anyway, it depends what you want - if you are looking at longer term egg laying, then waiting and adding younger birds at a later stage (next year) would be a better idea as all of them are unlikely to stop or slow down at the same time (apart from over winter & when they are moulting) But bear in mind that if anything happens to one of your current 2, you will be left with 1 hen - some don't mind being on their own for a while but they are sociable animals. You can always add another 1 or 2 if this happens.

Also depends what your set up is as regards to the number of pet hens you can manage, and of course whether you are keeping them as hens at all. My flock usually stays around the 3 - 4 number, and that is perfectly manageable for me, and we usually have enough eggs for us - apart from winter and when they are moulting, and to be honest you could have loads of hens and still hardly get eggs at this time. There are no guarantees about regular egg laying irrespective of their age, although usually - usually! - younger hens lay more regularly for the first couple of years.
Karen
Alpha chick to: Dorian Grey, Pokey, Mango, Smudge and Coco
Chief servant to Marley the cat
Remembering Weeps, Rexie, Sage, Cassie, Toffee, Captain Gabby, Commander Nugget, Ronnie, Juno, Special Poetry and Reading Casper, Tigger, Tophenanall Rembrandt, Chestnut, Tiddly and Willow
Also my lost furries Charlie and Jasper
JMcElroy
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Re: Chickens the same age

Post by JMcElroy »

Thank you Karen. Yes, I would definitely get 2, and not just add another 1. I am very worried about the pecking/bullying though.

Chickens are like gold dust these days, so difficult to find. So thats why I was going to add another two now, rather than wait another year, as I sense things could be a lot harder then.
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KarenE
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Re: Chickens the same age

Post by KarenE »

Interesting, I don't think they'll be that difficult to get hold of next year - i suppose it all depends how things are going with covid-19 and brexit. If things have calmed down, I suspect a lot of people will be rehoming their hens as the novelty wil have worn off or their circumstances may have changed. Anyway, breeders wil stil be breeding and the rescue organisations will still be rehoming so I think you'll still be able to pick up a couple of birds next year if you want to hold off til then.

To be honest introductions are one of the worst parts of chicken keeping. You never quite know how it's going to go. Sometimes it can go ok and others it can be really tough. I think it helps if you have a well established and strong top hen who isnt a bully - even better if you have a cockeral. You'll find the meekest mildest hen, usually the bottom hen, will suddenly become a horror.

Space is the key. if there is enough space for them to see each other but escape any attacks then they will be fine and they'll sort it all out between them. I usually let my established girls into the garden to free range (they do this anyway) while my new girls stay in their run for 3 - 4 days so they get their bearings and confidence, whilst they all sleep together in the coop at night. I get up at the crack of dawn to seperate them! There are usually scuffles and chest bumps through the wire. Once I am sure the new girls are going to bed nicely then I'll let them out to free range as well, and I am around with a water pistol to break up any nasty fights (there will be fights and you have to let them have them but I don't allow jumping on backs and no drawing blood - I am ultra top hen you see :-D )

I find it usually takes about 2 weeks before i am happy to leave them together unsupervised in the run. There will still be chasing and pecking, but nothing too nasty.

Some people recommend keeping them seperate and letting them see each other etc etc but now I think this just prolongues the process. I also wouldn't just chuck them in and let them sort it out, there could be serious damage that way.

So lots of space, and loads of feeders and waterers. The first introductions is nearly always the worst :-D
Karen
Alpha chick to: Dorian Grey, Pokey, Mango, Smudge and Coco
Chief servant to Marley the cat
Remembering Weeps, Rexie, Sage, Cassie, Toffee, Captain Gabby, Commander Nugget, Ronnie, Juno, Special Poetry and Reading Casper, Tigger, Tophenanall Rembrandt, Chestnut, Tiddly and Willow
Also my lost furries Charlie and Jasper

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