Research indicated that it was absolutely a bad idea to integrate baby chicks with full grown hens before the chicks were at least twelve weeks old. Like, bad as in lots-of-dead-baby-chicks-bad. So, although it's quite the dance to maintain two separate flocks in our city backyard, we weren't planning on putting all the birds together until at least the 4th of July.
But then Saturday we had to leave town for a family reunion....
It had been a few days since the big girls had been out to forage in the yard, so I decided to lock the chickies up in our chicken enclosure and let the big girls free-range for the day. But it seems I underestimated how attached the big girls are to their space.
When we got home late in the afternoon, Tori and 'Lani had flown over the fence and were in the chicken yard with the babies. Everyone was still alive, unscathed, and scratching the ground contentedly, even Bonnie the Tiny Buckeye Chick.
Always one to push my luck, I decided that if everyone had managed to stay alive for the afternoon, we'd see how they'd do overnight. It's been three days now, and--while I can't say they're all the best of friends--everyone is still thriving.
Just in case, I made a little safe space for the babies. They can get through to their food and some quiet time, but the big girls can't squeeze through the "door".
I honestly don't know if this would all work out so well a second time. I attribute it partly to flock characteristics--my big girls are sweet and docile, the chicks are wild little bad girls. (Truly, Patty Smyth pecked the...mmmm...out of my hand the other day!) Whatever it is though, it's working, so we humans are just going to go with the flow!