Friday, September 4, 2009

how to add another chicken to your flock?

It's been almost a week since Sophia died, and I think ZsuZsu, the surviving chicken must be lonely out there (she's noisy every morning).

Surprisingly, I got the final results back from the necropsy performed by the CAHFS Lab already, and their conclusion as to why Sophia died? They don't know why (although they used more scientific terms than that). At the very least, we know she didn't die of any infectious disease thanks to their tests.

So, knowing we don't have something communicable in our remaining flock of one, we can think of building it up again. ZsuZsu is back to laying eggs again, and I'm anxious to get her a companion to share the Eglu out in the backyard.

As with all things chicken-related, I've been doing some research on the subject of adding a new chicken to the flock, and I gotta tell you: this isn't as easy as dropping another goldfish in the aquarium.

Among the finer points of "how to introduce the new bird" which present a challenge:
  • To accommodate biosecurity concerns, we'll need to keep the new bird separated from ZsuZsu for anywhere from 2 weeks to 6 weeks depending on which resource you choose to heed. We certainly don't want to get ZsuZsu sick from a companion, no matter how lonely she is. Keeping them separated, however, presents a bit of a challenge in our backyard, and we'll need to get yet another temporary pen/house to do so.
  • To accommodate behavioral concerns, we're going to need to find a way to provide room in the Eglu (run is 7'x3', coop is 2.5'x2.5') for the newbie to get away from ZsuZsu, or vice versa, while they establish the pecking order. While I'd love to think ZsuZsu is easy-going and will quickly warm up to whatever new bird we bring in, I also need to be prepared for them to not get along.
Most of the online resources I've read regarding adding a chicken to the flock are dealing with more than a one-on-one introduction, and obviously dealing with a coop bigger than our Eglu. So, as usual I'll be keeping you posted on our experience in our particular setup to add to the corpus of knowledge around raising urban chickens.

Talking things over with LeftCoastMom, we've agreed we don't want to start raising a week-old chick at this point of the year. I'm getting ready to do some pretty heavy travel in the next few months, and the room in which we raised Sophia and ZsuZsu two years ago has been converted into a painting/crafts room for our daughters.

So that leaves us to get a months-old pullet. I've found a local source, Ranch Hag Hens, from which to get the chicken (we'll decide on the breed from what they have available when we get there: either a Rhode Island or an Orpington or a Brahma). And they're not too far away, just 90 minutes north of us.

Now, before digging into the finer points of adding chickens to an existing flock, I'd thought I could take my daughters with me on the drive up and over the Golden Gate Bridge tomorrow to visit Ranch Hag Hens and pick out a new chicken.

It depends now on how much prep work I can get done today to set up a temporary new coop and run in the backyard today. Wish me luck.

"Vacancy" Photo Credit: Jeremy Brooks on Flickr

9 comments:

Mo said...

I wish you the very best of luck! :) Pick a good one.

Beyond the Diaper Pale said...

Hey Thomas,

So sad to hear about Sophia. RHH is great. Say Hi to Dawn for me!!

If you don't have what you are looking for, we are looking to rehome 1 hen. We have 5, which is a bit much for our small back yard.

Also, I trapped and rehomed that pesky raccoon today! He had taken over the garage so it was time to go.

San Mateo Chickens

Ktrion said...

So sorry about Sophia! Our girls are just over one year old, and as our household "compound" has expanded, we're thinking of getting more chickens to keep up. I look forward to hearing how it goes with RHH/

eyecontact said...

Sorry about Sophia. Good luck getting a new gal integrated. We usually get a few chicks and slowly intro them to the older hens. You're right. It's not easy. Lots of pecking order acted out!

Hope it works for you to get an older hen.

We got an accidental rooster we have to rehome now. Argh!

Tarazod Films said...

Thomas, Just read about Sophia. Our thoughts and condolences go out to your family. Wishing you much success with finding a new flock member for ZsuZsu.

Robert & Tashai

Thomas Kriese said...

Thanks again, everyone, for your well-wishes and kind words. We're still on the search for a companion for ZsuZsu. Taking it slow so as to do the right thing.

Madeleine said...

Does ZsuZsu ever get broody? You could slip a chick under her when she is and let her raise it.
Madeleine

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Kkane said...

So sorry to hear about Sophia. One of our two hens was just killed by a raccoon :-( . We didn't realize about the quarantine and went out right away to adopt a hen that needed a home from the animal shelter in santa cruz. Like you, we have just an Eglu and run in a Redwood City yard. I am very interested in how you handle the new introductions! I hope we have not made a terrible mistake in getting a new hen so soon. So far she is sleeping in a dog crate and they are both out in the yard under supervision. I really want them to be friends but am afraid to leave them in the 'glu together...oh dear...

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