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To Chick or Not to Chick

By Audrey Pavia, Urban Farm contributor

Monday, February 13, 2012

chick

I am constantly tempted by the adorable baby chicks for sale in feed stores at this time of year.

It’s that time again — time when I walk into the feed stores in town and see heated holding pens filled with oodles of adorable baby chicks.

There they are: little yellow balls of fluff. And little black balls of fluff. And brown balls of fluff with striped wings. No matter their color, they are the cutest little things on the face of the earth, and I want them. I want them all.

Of course, reason prevails, and I end up just picking up a baby and cuddling it. I hear myself saying “Baby peepers! Baby peepers!” over and over again like a simpleton as I cradle that little chick in my hand.

This happens every year, but this is the first time I actually walked out of the store and was seriously considering buying a few chicks.

Over the last two years, I’ve lost two of my hens. I’m down to three plus my two roosters. The hens don’t seem to be laying — not even the younger one who should still be producing. Not sure what’s going on but I haven’t gotten eggs in many months.

So I began to wonder if maybe I should add a few more hens. One of my dilemmas is that my flock is all bantams, and the babies I see in the feed stores are standard-size chicks. How bizarre will that look, to see five bantams roaming around with three giant hens following close behind? Will my bantams look like the poultry version of hobbits to the giant beasts?

Also, what will this do to my roosters’ psyches? Aside from the inevitable fights that will ensue over who gets to be boss over the new hens, what will happen to my roosters’ self esteem when they try to mate with these monster hens, only to find there is no way they can reach?

And what about the pecking order? If I introduce the new hens as pullets, they will no doubt get bossed around by my three resident hens. How weird will that be to see my little chickens chasing hens that are twice their size?

Okay, I guess I could skip the feed store and just order some bantam chicks online. This would eliminate the size discrepancy. I would still have the same problem with the roosters fighting, and the newcomers being harassed by my resident hens. I’m not sure what to do about that. If I want to seriously consider expanding my flock, I need to do more research.

In the meantime, I’ll be visiting the feed stores in town regularly over the next month to get my baby chick fix.

Give us your opinion on To Chick or Not to Chick.
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I found as long as you introduce new chicks to the existing flock at a young age there is no issues. I did it last spring with 3 week old chicks. The rooster kinda of picked at them a little but eventually lost interest. The other hens completely left the alone.
I tried doing the same think with 3 month old chickens and it did not work out so well. I guess age is a big deal to them when it comes to peeking order
Jeff, Burns, TN
Posted: 3/1/2012 8:37:08 AM
Great article!
Tim, Lebenon, TN
Posted: 2/27/2012 12:16:33 PM
I'd say "Not to chick"
Clark, Destin, FL
Posted: 2/17/2012 12:33:48 PM
I'm facing a similar dilemma, but with standard-sized birds. Of my original 5, only 2 are left, and I fret whether my existing girls will bully new babes this spring. I'm aiming for mellow breeds, though; I'm hoping that will help.

Best of luck with your flock!
Erin, Williamston, MI
Posted: 2/13/2012 2:21:03 PM

About the Blogger

Audrey Pavia

Audrey Pavia
Keeping farm animals in the city can be a real hoot. Follow freelance writer Audrey Pavia's adventures in Southern California with a yard full of urban livestock, including horses, chickens, a Corgi and an urban barn cat. She somehow manages all these silly critters by herself while working full-time. And you thought "The Simple Life" was out there?

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