I decided to try mixing the little ones with the rest of the flock. The original plan was to leave then to it for a couple of hours, as long as they all behaved themselves, but it's gone so smoothly I have no plans to separate them again.
I made two adjustments to the run. The first was to keep some of the bamboo "wall" in place when I opened it up. It's big enough that the little ones can move through at speed but it slows the big girls down. The big girls have not really charged the little ones at all, but they, Stu in particular, were a little flighty the first few hours and at least I knew they wouldn't hurt themselves if they ran for the safety of their end of the run. I also opened up the roof of the nest box on the little ones coop. It was mainly so that when they went up there to hide, they would get some fresh air. It turned out to have an unexpected benefit and the little ones now do laps of the run; perching on and then flying down from the nesting box, running back up the ramp and flying down again. It also means that can perch at the same height but away from the big girls, which is a bonding process.
|Tilda checking out the break in the "wall"|
|Need to work on some better chook proofing!|
All in all, its been a real treat to watch them all just get used to each other. There has been a tiny bit of huffing, but no attacks or damage done. I was steeling myself up, especially after the hassle we had getting the four girls to coexist happily together, but the big girls have been extremely tolerant this time around. Tiny is the only one that has thrown her weight about a bit, not a surprise as she is still the smallest hen in the flock and needs to stake her claim with the two newbies. Given that the littleies are more than double her size, she is all mouth and little effect and it's best she gets it out of her system whilst they are still young enough not to realise that she's all bluster! Grumpy Goldie, meanwhile, back in broody mode again, has yet to notice that anythings changed ;o)