Every spring I get new chicks. In the past nature has always taken her toll, that has ensured that I am not overrun with too many chickens. This year Mother Nature had the last laugh, because I lost no chicks to infant mortality, nor did they have to go early because they were the wrong sex, nor did a single predator somehow show up to cull my flock. No this year everyone of the 15 baby chicks I purchased was a hen, who made it to egg laying adulthood. I suddenly had a flock of 20 chickens.
Twenty chickens is too many for a back yard flock. I am a recreational chicken wrangler. I want it to be at least sort of fun. When you have twenty birds, there is too much poo, too many pounds of chicken chow ate, and just civil unrest even with over 20 acres to wander free range style. We had reached the point where we were going to have to butcher 15 birds just to bring our flock back to a size where we could enjoy our hens. Instead we got lucky in that our friends who raise chickens for eggs to supplement their income were in need of pullets. Late summer is really not the time you want to be ordering and starting baby chickens in Montana so getting 26-week old laying hens was perfect to them. Problem solved for both of us. They came over with three dog crates and went home with 10 pullets to add to their flock. Much less stressful for us.
It is amazing what the reduction of our flock to ten has done to our flock. They are quieter, and no longer play the role of mean girls to some of the flock. They are much more cohesive group who all wake at the same time, travel in a single bunch and retire to the roost early as a group. On top of that they food consumption has dropped, they are doing much more free range eating. Lastly the coop is easier to keep clean. Before winter sets in we will still need to cull our flock to half size, but with only five yet to go it will be a quick morning event rather than an all day ordeal.
When you only have ten chickens in your flock there can be peace in your valley.