Planning for the 2012 Flock

I don’t think that it will come as a surprise to my regular readers that I’ve been thinking a lot about chickens lately.  And while we still have almost two full months before our full-scale breeding program will commence, it is – by far – the most interesting and terrifying new change to our homesteading plan this spring.

After spending the last few weeks with Storey’s Guide to Raising Chicks (on loan from the local library) and Ussery’s Small Scale Poultry Flock, I feel like I finally have a fairly clear picture of how things will work, as soon as the weather warms up enough that we can start building and shuffling our flock.

The tentative plan that I’ve come up with is to divide our large flock (2 Roosters & 8 Hens) into two smaller breeding flocks (1 Rooster & 4 Hens).  Each flock will be banded with zip ties of the same color (blue & green), then sent out to pasture in either our current A-Frame tractor or a modified version of Ussery’s pasture shelter, reinforced with hardware cloth, instead of just chicken wire & possibly a ramp up to the second floor that can be raised at night to protect the flock even more.

After twenty-one days of separation, I will begin to collect eggs (hoping, all the while for two of the girls to go broody.  The broody hens will be re-situated in the winter coop on clutches of eggs, and once the chicks hatch, they will be brooded in both the winter coop and the larger chicken tractor, with the help of their hen-mamas.

We’re hoping to place about 16 eggs under each hen; hopefully hatching between 20 – 24 chicks.

I hope to post the entire process as we get closer and begin building the new shelter and renovating part of the winter coop into a chick brooder.

Have you ever done this?  What advice might you offer?

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6 thoughts on “Planning for the 2012 Flock

  1. We haven’t tried to hatch eggs, but I like your plan. When we do have a hen go broody, it’s disruptive to the rest so I like your plan to let them do their thing by themselves. I love the looks of that A-frame structure too. 🙂

    I’d be honored if you’d share this post on our new weekly link up — Friday Food Flicks — Amanda

  2. Wow Jess, you’ve sure been thinking this out. I don’t have any advice, I have 1 roo and 7 hens ( I got them in October -all 3 years old this spring), and have one broody already…the first 7 eggs didn’t show development (perhaps she didn’t turn them!?), so now she’s on 4 new ones. I’m starting small since I’m basically just experimenting to learn, but need to refresh the flock with layers. I like the zip tie idea but haven’t figured out how to use that on my birds- they have feathers on their legs and feet!
    Good luck to you- I’ll be checking in on your progress!

    • Iloura – Great to hear from you again! I think I’m so actively thinking about it because we’ve grown to like and depend on the meat in the freezer. I’ll be posting regular chick updates once we start moving toward a hatch!

  3. Hi Jess I found your blog through the barn hop I just wrote about some of our chickens too. I am aching for spring to get outside and get going on things. Glad to have found your blog!
    Cheryl

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