New Hens in the House

Over the past year, we’ve lost 2 chickens for various reasons. Our remaining hens grew louder (we assume due to loneliness – they are social animals, after all) so we decided to bring in more chickens to enliven the party. Last week we made a trip out to Chickens Galore in Norco, CA to pick out three new hens to join the flock.

We brought our research–a dog-eared book highlighting different breeds for the best egg layers, disposition, etc. The hour-long drive on a Sunday morning led us to more options than we bargained for.

We selected our hens from several stalls like this one.

We selected our hens from several stalls like this one.

Why Chickens Galore? One of our hens died of Marek’s disease, which is like staph in humans (in that we all have it around us, but some strains are stronger than others and some people have lower resistance to it). We wanted to get vaccinated hens since our remaining chickens were most likely carriers. It didn’t seem fair otherwise.

Several days before our trip, we found an abandoned pet kennel on the roadside – the perfect solution to transport our new hens and provide a temporary coop before integration. We scrubbed it out and lined it with newspaper for the trip.

Home-bound chickens ready for the road

Home-bound chickens ready for the road

Russell of Chickens Galore helped us choose our hens and gave us a quick rundown of each bird. They were born in mid-April, so they will most likely start laying in mid-August.

Meet the new gals (from left): Wilma the Welsummer, Annabel the Americauna, and Sylvia the Silver-laced Wyandotte

Meet the new gals, all about 2 1/2 months old (from left): Wilma the Welsummer, Annabel the Americauna (or Amaraucana), and Sylvia the Silver-laced Wyandotte

Wilma is slated to lay dark chocolate brown eggs, Annabel will lay blue/green eggs, and Sylvia is a brown egg-layer. It remains to be seen just what shade.

The challenges with integrating new hens are similar to introducing a kitten to a pack of dogs. You have to keep them separate for awhile so they can see each other but not touch. You also have to wait until they are big enough to fend for themselves so they don’t get pecked to death (it happens). Behold our setup:

Our new hen setup with food, water and protection from the other chickens

Our new hen setup with food, water and protection from the other chickens

We used the kennel as coop, food and water dishes of their own and our portable run over the top. We also divided the larger run in half so eventually the hens can run free without crossing over into home territory.

As I write this, the new hens are figuring out their own pecking order–it’s a grand show of fluffed feathers and neck craning to see who’s boss. Once they get their order established, they’ll be ready to take on the big girls. Stay tuned…

 

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3 Responses to New Hens in the House

  1. Heather says:

    Hi Christy,

    I’m sorry to hear about your chickens that died from Mareck’s. So, how are Wilma, Annabel, and Sylvia doing? Are you satisfied with the quality of chickens you purchased at Chickens Galore, and are they laying yet? I’m searching for a local chicken farm to purchase some chicks, or pullets since the shipping costs for mail order are just ludicrous.

    • Christy says:

      HI Heather,

      We are happy with our new girls. They are doing very well, and should start laying this week (fingers crossed). We found Chickens Galore to be a reputable place to get hens. They knew their stuff and the selection was great. We went in with out list and left with a couple of changes, but only because we wanted a certain age. The only mark against them would be that they don’t use organic feed, but we switched the girls over as soon as we integrated them with the other hens.

  2. Pingback: Chicken Update - Round 2 is Going Well | Gardenerd

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