Flock Management
staggered natural replacement
The Staggered Natural Replacement management system is very similar to the Staggered Replacement system except that the interval between adding new pullets to your flock is longer and you do not cull the older hens.  This is the best system to use if you are keeping chickens as pets.

advantages/disadvantages summary

  • Ensures that at least some eggs are always being produced.  If you buy all your pet chickens at once then as they grow old together there will be an extended period when they will lay virtually no eggs.
  • You don't have to cull (kill) any of the hens..
  • You won't get nearly as good an egg yield as you would if you cull older hens after two or three years.
  • Adding young hens to an established flock interrupts the social structure of the flock, sometimes known as the pecking order.

staggered natural replacement scheduling
By staggered natural replacement scheduling I mean when and how many chickens do you add to your flock if you are running them as pets. 

Below is a suggested replacement scheduling plan for a flock of nine hens.  The scheduling plan starts off with three hens as I think that is the minimum practical number for a flock of chickens.  Nine hens run using this staggered natural replacement scheduling process should produce a long term average of about two to three eggs per day, much lower than the average if the hens were managed as farm animals but still better than if you buy all your pet hens at once.

0 Buy 3 pullets (point of lay young hens).
2 Add 2 pullets to the flock.
4 Add 2 more pullets to your flock.
6 Add 2 more pullets to your flock.
8 + By now some of the oldest hens should be starting to die of natural causes.  Replace them as they die.

If you lose any hens to disease or predators then simply replace them.  But if you lose a lot at once then replace them gradually over an extended period of time.  What you don't want is to end up with a whole lot of old hens and no young ones.

If you only have space for a smaller flock then I suggest you add a single pullet at a time, making a total of six hens.  However I think it is harder to introduce a single pullet to an established flock then it is to introduce two or three pullets at  a time and six hens managed as pets will probably not produce enough eggs over the long term to meet the average family's egg needs.

Note that I have never run hens using this management system, so it is pretty hypothetical.  If anyone does use this management system over an extended period of time your feedback would be appreciated.