Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Hens Need No Introductions - - - - Or DO They?!? Letters to Lizzy

Dear Miss Lizzy,
Springtime makes us Farm Girls think of Baby Peeps, and I did so enjoy seeing those photos on the previous post!  I would like to know when (and how) to introduce new chicks or hens to the flock of my older Biddies!  It seems that since hens have hatched out their own peeps since the beginning of time, this would not be a problem at any life stage of poultry!  Perhaps I'm just being overly cautions, but I worry that that there might be some injury caused to the new birds OR the older hens.  Advice, please!
Signed: Bewildered Betty
Click to enlarge - Chick Sorting done in 1950's
Dear Bewildered,
Rest assured - there is DEFINITELY cause for concern when introducing new members to an established flock!  Caution must always prevail!  Things are done so differently these days.  Broodiness is being bred out of hens.  Folks now-a-days want hens to PRODUCE PRODUCE PRODUCE, and SO - - eggs are laid and hens go about their daily business, for the most part, unless they are classified as "broody", and some ORNERY CUSS will fight till the bitter end if she even THINKS someone is out to remove an egg from beneath her fluffy bottom!
 Never, NEVER put a young peep in with the older hens or pullets!  Miss Lizzy always says, "Same Size keeps em ALIVE.  Wantum DEAD? Mix sizes INSTEAD!"  The best plan is to keep the peeps in a separate pen until they are near the size of the birds you wish to keep them with!  Depending on the breed of pullets you have, this could be for 5-6 months of age, for medium size hens like Wyandotts such as myself.
  As the new pullets approach appropriate introduction size, move their location quite near the location of the Working Girls, so they can get accustomed to the sight  and smell and sound of each other.  If one does not have large pens available, place the pullets in a large rabbit cage close to the hens, or, divide the large run with chicken wire, but be sure no pullet can squeeze through underneath or around or over TOP of the wire (mayhapst to cover the top of the smaller pen with chicken wire as preventative measure....).  Do this for about a week, but if you have an agressive breed, you may wish to wait 2 weeks.
Forewarned is Forearmed - - best ye put the new-bees in the coop when the OLD-Bees are quieted down and roosting for the NIGHT.  Likely the OLD-Bees won't take much notice in the morning as they go about searching for feed to fill their crops.  If they do take notice, then they might take a quick snap at a new fluffy butt, out of curiosity, doing no serious harm.  If a human can supervise for a while, this would be safest.  For once blood is drawn, there can begin the bloodbath of the century, right before your very wary eyes! 

And now a final word of CAUTION to avoid IMMEDIATE AND CERTAIN DEATH IN THE HEN HOUSE - Miss Lizzy will add that to mix Bantams with full size layers is not advisable!  This is not to say it has not been done with success before upon such occasion under watchful wary eyes!  Remember, "Same Size keeps em alive!"  And, a WORD TO THE WISE:  if someone offers a free Polish hen, "JUST SAY NO" unless there are already Polish in a separate pen.  They are remarkably stylish birds, but unless you wish to chance bloodshed or a special needs hen, avoid mixing at all costs!  For the most part, hens will feel the need to remove that lovely cap of feathers atop a Polish head - PURE JEALOUSY!  That's how we are!

Wishing you the UTMOST of good fortune,
Miss Lizzy


Angela said...

That's very good advice Miss Lizzy! I wouldn't want the working girls to hurt the new girls when you put them together.

Have a Great Day!

Larkrise garden girl said...

I love your post. I had one chicken house for sweet chickens and the second for time out chickens. Or Chickens that were being agressive.It worked out well, Cheri

Becky K. said...

Yep! All of this is true. Sad, but true. Chickens are a temperamental lot.

Cindy said...

What there is jealousy in a chicken house...yes you are can get so bloody ugly.What do you recommend for small boo'boos...we have used mentholadium (ms) before...that is what my grandma used..but I would like to know what you use.
Thanks for all the great advice!!

Hugs Cindy and Roo-Roo

Chatty Crone said...

Okay - raising hens = no easy job and you have to know what you are doing.

Gives new meaning to "Hen House".