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I Suspect Fowl Play

So your original flock of chicks have all grown up and you’re feeling a bit of ‘chick fever’, missing the first days and weeks of raising baby chicks. While it’s completely natural to feel that way, it’s important to take caution when adding chicks to your already established flock. In order to make it a successful transformation you must quarantine and be aware of the flock dynamics (AKA the pecking order).
Quarantine: Chickens tend to be carriers of certain diseases, which makes this one of the most important steps to take when introducing new chickens. For at least 30 days it’s important to house your new birds elsewhere to make sure they are disease free. By adding supplements to their water and introducing probiotics (yes, yogurt) into their diet you can boost their immune systems.

Because the new birds will likely be stressed in their new surroundings, give them a boost of protein to keep their weight up and feathers on. Some good examples of protein are beans, rice, mealworms, black oil sunflower seeds and even wet cat food.

Flock Dynamics: Yes, the Pecking Order actually exists. It’s actually everything you imagined it and more. In every flock there is a dominant bird (or two). They basically peck at each other to show who’s in control. What you may not know is that these pecks hurt! They’re not gentle, in fact can even draw blood. That being said, while you want to protect your new birds from the old hens, knowing it’s bound to happen and taking the proper steps to introduce your birds to one another is key.

1.Wait until the new birds are close to the same size as your existing hens.
2.Put your new birds in a separate pen or cage near where the old birds can see them but can’t touch them. Think of the saying my mother always used to tell me while shopping in stores with breakable items: “Look but don’t touch.” That was always difficult for me. Anyway, this way the chickens can become familiar with one another, yet are protected from the peckin.
3.When you’re ready to set your new birds free, let them out in their pen to explore, find the food and water and figure things out a bit. When you think they’re ready, let the old birds out of their coup. Sure there’s bound to be a scuffle, but it won’t be as dramatic as putting the birds in there when everyone else is free.
4.Don’t introduce just one single new bird. Think of how you felt when you started at a new school not knowing anyone. AND THEN fearing for your life when you know the school is full of kids who are going to peck at you? No thanks.

We hope this series of articles has helped you get excited about raising chickens. They’re such fun animals to raise, especially if you’ve got kids, neighbor kids, grandkids, nieces or nephews around.