Fast forward to April of 2019. We had decided that we would like another breed or two of chickens to add to the farm. We soon discovered a nearby store was having their chick days. Customers placed orders for the breed, number, and sex of baby chick they wanted. I thought this sounded awesome! I would be able to order exactly what I wanted! We decided on 6 Easter Eggers and 6 Brown Leghorn. Order placed, now the wait was on until April 17th. Little did we know the challenges about to ensue, from placing an order to introducing new chickens to our flock.
The Day Finally Arrives
On April 16th I received the call that our chicks would be ready for pickup the following day. Super excited I wanted an early start. My son and I headed out fairly early on the 17th with a few stops here and there to be sure these new babies would have everything they needed. What happened next shocked more than just my son and I that day. We approached the lady with the chickens and she asks and I quote “Do you know what your chickens look like?” I had red flags going up everywhere! I also had a right for those.
This poor lady with these baby chickens had no idea what birds she had. The baby chicks had all been mixed together in large tubs after delivery to the store. The lady in charge turned out to only be a food rep! Google was her best friend trying to decide what was what. Now I don’t know if you have ever googled baby chicks or not but let me tell you MANY breeds look the same right out of an egg. Hopes of getting my birds was fading fast. We were asked to leave and come back later when hopefully she could figure out the mess that had been made. There was nothing to do but honor the request.
Hours Later We Return for Baby Chicks
When we arrived back at the store this poor girl had called in some other lady to assist. The new lady was said to know her chickens. I look back now and laugh as I call her bluff! We did finally manage to leave with 12 bundles of feathers. Some were dark, some were light and 3 was even lavender. They were so adorable. Some of them looked EXACTLY like our previous Rhode Island Red chicks. Remember not alarmed at this point because lots of baby chicks look alike. Can you guess where this is going?
Home with New Baby Chicks
I had the brooder box warmed and waiting for the new babies since I had a date to expect them. I did have to get the water dish out to add the electrolytes that we had picked up that day while killing a few hours. Let me halt right there and tell you this was a BIG mistake. NEVER put baby chicks in the brooder and then a heavy water dish. I lost one of my pretty lavender chicks because of this very mistake. Yes I crushed a baby chicken that I accused the store of shorting me for a few days because I did not find the error until I refilled the water dish. Be mindful of the babies if you have to move anything big and heavy in the first few weeks of life.
Let the Baby Chicks Grow
I really enjoyed the baby chicks on a daily basis as I got to feed and water them. They did not care for being handled or petted. They were independent. Bad for me because I love to pet my animals. Yes even those that are part of the farm. They grew for a few months before we were brave enough to introduce them to our flock. As they are growing I am trying to decide for sure what I have. I had some white, some gray, some speckled, and some that were looking even more like Rhode Island Red.
Introducing the Old to the New Chickens in the Flock
The day finally arrived when we decided the time was right to introduce these little chickens into the flock. They were old enough to no longer need the heat bulb and reasonable size to the rest of the flock. We caught two of the Easter Eggers and sit them outside in the fence with the other birds. First to check them out was T-Rex our rooster. It took no time to decide that letting them roam free would be a big mistake.The rooster did not like the new chicks and neither would the hens.
Thank goodness we had a bottom area under our coop that we could easily screen in. We fixed the bottom of the coop as a holding area for the small birds. The screen allowed the big birds to check them out but not be able to harm them. I would feed the little birds and then close them in. Next I would feed the big birds outside the small birds area so that they learned to interact. In a couple weeks we tried turning a few little birds out again. This time there was less confrontation. We decided that it would be okay to leave the bottom open and allow the birds to mingle. They would establish their own pecking order without the new and old relationship labels.
Peace in Paradise when Introducing New Chickens in Your Flock
The chickens were getting along fine. The older birds would roost in their upstairs coop and most of the smaller birds were still sticking to the bottom. This was not a problem since the weather was plenty warm. I did not have any real pecking or feather plucking going on between these chickens. They quickly learned who was boss and the chain just descended from there. They continued to grow and it soon became evident that some of them were different from what I previously had. The two gray was Easter Eggers and the two lavender had turned a beautiful white and brown, also Easter Eggers. The others were still not so much different from some of my first flock.
In All Due Time
The more the chickens grew the more and more they looked like Rhode Island Red and one of the intended Easter Eggers looked like a Gold Lace Wyandotte. I also fought with the idea that all my red chickens (6) could be roosters. I was not ready to let go of hope that as they grew they would change. As they grew it became clear that I would not know anything for certain about the reds until they laid eggs. The odd bird out showed it’s colors early and was indeed another Gold Lace Wyandotte. Since there were at least four Easter Eggers it really wasn’t that big of a deal. I just had a pair of Gold Lace Wyandotte hens now. Those reds however still had me concerned. What were they and were they even hens?
The Day of Truth
Finally the time came. I noticed I was getting more and more eggs. The Easter Eggers had even laid a few. Now in just a matter of days to weeks I should know for sure what those red birds are. Every day I looked for white eggs. The Brown Leghorn would have been laying white. Every day I found brown, cream, and on occasion green eggs. The Bardrock and Rhode Island Red lays brown, the Gold Lace Wyandotte cream, and the Easter Eggers green.
I soon learned for certain my reds were laying when I found a lady and nest beside my house. The eggs were brown. This was the end of the mystery. My six chickens were indeed hens but not a single one of them were Brown Leghorn. Every single one of them are Rhode Island Red. Now I can barely find my Little Red Hen who i the oldest hen of the Reds. They all look so much alike it is virtually impossible to pick her out.
In Closing on Introducing New Chickens Into Your Flock
I purchased twelve chickens. Six Easter Eggers and six Brown Leghorn. I received five Easter Eggers, one Gold Lace Wyandotte and six Rhode Island Red. On the plus side at least I didn’t get any there was no roosters and I did get all hens as I ordered.
Introducing new chickens into the flock was not what I had expected. I was learning that not a lot had been lately. It all worked out with a little extra work and most all the birds were doing well. I did lose one of the white Easter Eggers to an unknown cause shortly before they started laying. On a side note it also fun getting all the chickens to lay in the nest boxes. I found 22 eggs in the trunk of a tree once. Guess what…they were brown and cream, not a single white. Confirmation that I had no Brown Leghorn.
A Few Tips from the Coop
Know your store before you order chickens. Ask questions like how many years have you placed orders for customers, do the birds usually arrive on their expected date and are they healthy. Had I asked questions I would have known this was the FIRST time this store had ever done chick days. In their defense they were a new store location. Aside from that, the birds arrived on time and were healthy.
Don’t forget baby chicks can use electrolytes during their first couple days of life. Do not mix electrolytes in the water until you have your baby chicks. It is only good for a day or so. NEVER put a full dish of water in a brooder box with baby chicks without paying extra special attention to that there are no chicks under the dish.
Always have your brooder box ready when expecting baby chicks. You need some type of shavings (I use pine, never use cedar) layered in the bottom for waste. You need a small feeder and water dish, filled and ready on the day you are certain you are picking the chicks up. Have a heat bulb lowered and turned on so the box is warm.
Always observe your chickens when introducing them into the flock. If they get along wonderful, if they don’t you need a plan to keep the older and bigger birds from harming the new and smaller ones.
Be sure not to overcrowd your coop. Make sure each bird had 2 to 3 square feet inside the coop and 8 to 10 in an outside run. Allow each bird around 8 inches of roost space unless they are really large birds then allow 10. Add extra roost bars as needed to be sure birds can roost peacefully.