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Rhonda Crank

Introducing New Chickens to Your Flock

Rhonda CrankWhen introducing new birds into your flock, it can create a stressful time for the new birds, your established flock, and for you. The pecking order of chickens is very strict and they can be very cruel to one another, at least it will appear that way to you. You've heard the old phrase "hen pecked?" It's a real thing, and not just for men! :)

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Help Avoid Much of the Fighting

If you have the space, put the new birds in a separate yard beside your chicken yard letting the flock and the new birds be in each others view for two to three weeks. If you don't have that luxury, you can put your new birds on the roost at night when they are all fast asleep and let them wake up together. Then, if you can, separate your old birds from the new birds the next morning. Let the established flock free range or put your new birds into another pen, even if it is a temporary one in your chicken yard. This gives the new birds some time to get used to the yard and relax into their new home in peace. After a couple of nights of roosting together, they should be pretty used to one another and the fighting should be minimal.

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On our farm, I am blessed to have plenty of space. We have a unique setup that my husband built for me. You may not can see it well in this photo, but I have four side yards that connect to the "big yard" by a gate. Each one serves its own purpose. The ones on each end are breeding coops and the two in the middle are the rooster yards reserved for those roosters I keep just for breeding purposes. For more on why I keep the roosters separate, see our post on taming an attacking rooster. These yards all share a common fence so the chickens in the big yard can see the biddies or new hens and get used to them. They still do a little bossin' around, but it has never been anything that has caused damage to any of the birds.

As the young hens grow into maturity, the pecking order will change. If you take one out for setting a nest, the order will change, and it will change again when you bring her back in. I just stay out of their squabbles and let them work it out.

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When to Introduce New Birds

If I have allowed my hen to set, or if, for some reason, I order chicks, they are 3 months old before I introduce them. By this age, they are large enough and established enough to be able to handle themselves. I leave roosters from the same batch in the side yards until I'm ready to butcher. We butcher them when they are 4 months old.

Since the chicks will have been next to the big flock for so long, there is hardly any fuss. To introduce them to the coop and flock, I (meaning we) put them on the roost at night when all the birds have gone to sleep. My headlamp has a red light setting on it and I use this so as not to disturb them too much. A sleeping chicken is kinda like a zombie, they will let you do pretty much anything to them you want.

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I take them from their breeding coop into the big coop and place them on the roost. Gently and slowly so as not to wake them or the other birds. Once they have slept in the coop for two to three nights, they will know where they live and adjust well.

Problems May Arise

The only problem I have had with this is that they are so used to sleeping in the breeding coop house that they don't like the roost. They want to sleep in the bottom row of nests. To correct this, we went out that night, after they were all asleep and put them on the roost again. We had to do this for three nights before all of them were going to bed on the roost. It is a little work, but it is important for them to be sleeping together as a flock.

It isn't hard to introduce new birds, just a little time consuming. Remember, it is just as stressful for your existing flock to have their order upset so be sure everyone has plenty to do, eat, and drink and all should be well. This would be a good time to offer ACV Tonic for all your birds (3 to 4 tablespoons apple cider vinegar to 1 gallon of water).

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Please share your experiences with introducing new birds to your flock by commenting below or using the Contact Me page on my website. Remember, I am here to help so always feel free to contact me with your questions and concerns.

Safe and Happy Journey,
Rhonda and The Pack

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What's In Your Seeds?

Rhonda CrankIt may seem hard to believe, but there are so many people who are unaware of the GMO seed and food issue. I personally know many people who choose not to ask questions or who refuse to put in the time for research. As with any important issue there are always those who accept the propaganda and like the ostrich, bury their head in the proverbial sand.

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Since you are reading this and other materials to help educate yourself, you are not one of them. There is a tendency in us to quickly become overwhelmed when learning something new and to simply forget about it. While the amount of information and the different arguments may be scary at first, the truth is simple. Man has once again tried to improve upon what didn't need fixing in the first place.

CountriesBanningGMOThere are many political arguments for the "experiment," but the truth is readily available for those who want it. There is a reason why more than 60 countries in the world have banned them, limited them, and/or required their labeling for use in their borders. Only the U.S. is pushing this seed catastrophe, but that is only because we are corporate run.

Less than 50 years ago, it didn't matter so much where you bought your seeds. If you were avoiding chemically treated seeds, it wasn't hard to find natural seeds, almost everyone sold both. A seed was a seed. Now, saving your own seed from non-GMO plants is one of, if not the, most important decisions a gardener makes.

Who Owns Your Seeds?

The old timers saved their own seeds or bartered their seeds with neighbors; they purchased very little. Since the Garden of Eden, we have known that fruits and veggies are good for us. We have never been told "Don't eat too many tomatoes," "Don't have more than one apple a day." So we have known that these seeds are vital to our health and well being.

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But now we have big government and companies like Monsanto, which is the largest of the companies responsible for GMOs, owning 90 percent of the seeds. They have sued farmers multiple times for saving crop seeds after they were accidentally contaminated by Monsanto's GMO seeds. The sad part, they won. They own the seed the farmer saved because their seed was in it. Farmers located near their "experimental fields" can no longer save their own seed.

Resources for Information

There just isn't enough time and space to discuss this issue in full, but if you have done any research at all, I am sure you have made your decision to avoid GMOs at all cost. You can check out my YouTube GMO Playlist for some videos to help get you started. You will see several from Dr. Jeffrey Smith. I would definitely suggest ordering his movie Genetic Roulette. We did and have invited our friends and family to watch it with us. You may also want to check out our article Is Your Food Really Organic? for more links and information.

We also have two boards on Pinterest to help others learn and keep informed about this problem: Non-GMO, Organic News and Info and Organic, Non-GMO Farming.

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Resources for Non-GMO Seeds

We save most all of our own seed. If and when I do order, there are few companies I have come to trust. I have found them to be reliable, friendly and helpful places to order seeds and supplies. Sifting through all the blah, blah, blah ... yada, yada, yada ... can be overwhelming, I remember. So here are the ones we recommend from experience. No, I am not affiliated with any of them.

1) Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds
2) Wood Prairie Farm
3) Southern Exposure Seed Exchange
4) Seeds of Change

This list is not to exclude other companies offering organic, non-GMO seeds or supplies. We do business with the first two because we identify with their principles of business, concerns and goals. We have done business with and still recommend the others also. As always, I am careful about what and who I recommend to you because any good relationship is based on trust. Do you know of some other company you like to do business with? Please share with me.

For more information on seed saving, see our post Seed Saving Savvy. Remember, you can always get in touch with me by using the comments below or the Contact Me page on my website. I always enjoy hearing your ideas, questions and suggestions.

Safe and Happy Journey,
Rhonda and The Pack
The Farmer's Lamp

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