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.
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.
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.
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:
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…