Sunday, November 20, 2011

Combining Two Chicken Flocks

Rocky the Rooster and The Hens have lived in their insulated coop since it was built.  The Chicks started out in Farmer Man's shop in their incubator, then moved into the greenhouse when they got bigger and then into the new shed/coop when it arrived.  We have always intended to combine the two flocks in the insulated coop for the winter.  Combining two flocks can be interesting: roosters and hens alike can fight, pull feathers and cause general mayhem while establishing their 'pecking order'.  We were particularly concerned because our ten Ameraucana chicks had turned into six feisty roosters and four hens.  We really like Rocky: he's a gentleman and a great protector of his little flock; we'd hate to have anything happen to him.  We're not quite so fond of some of the Ameraucana roosters; they are aggressive, randy and don't really look out for the hens.  We had put the Ameraucana roosters on our local web site eBrandon as breeding stock but no takers.

We did have the knowledge that the two flocks had been free ranging together for the last two months with few problems.   We were still debating the best way to go about the whole thing when Mother Nature decided for us, as is often the way on the small farm.  A forecast of 10 - 15 centimetres of snow (3 - 6 inches) with forecast lows of -22 C (about -10 F), freaky cold for November.  There was no decision to be made anymore: The Chicks had to go into the insulated house or perhaps freeze to death!  Farmer Man got busy installing new, more extensive roosts from willow scavenged from our shelter.  The willow is a great example of reusing, recycling because he had originally cut the heavy branches for feeding the goats, choosing ones that were big enough but not too big for roosts!  The goats eat the leaves and the bark, so the branches were nice and smooth for chicken roosts.

We let The Chicks go to bed as usual in their shed that evening and, with snow falling, we carried the sleepy Chicks into the insulated coop where Rocky and The Hens were already cozying up for the evening.  So far, no big problems.  We can certainly see a few hens with some missing feathers, but no big fights have ensued.  The biggest problem for us is that not all The Chicks 'get' their new home yet and return to the shed each evening.  In cold, windy, snowy conditions Farmer Man and I have had to find them and return them to the insulated coop each night.  Three or four that have been laying their eggs in the barn are also insisting on maintaining that habit, too.  We've had to step up our egg gathering so that we find the barn eggs before they freeze!


  1. Those temperatures are ridiculous for this time of year! We don't hit that kind of weather until January normally. Hope the chickens sort themselves out okay, I've heard they can be awful mean to each other in some instances.

  2. So many of the old sayings like 'hen pecked' are based in truth! Chickens can be pretty vicious, but generally are just looking for peace and order!