Wonderful integration method. Ditto your caution re: having hdw cloth around the base of the chick enclosure. I had a hen grab a chick's leg and try to pull the chick under the broody enclosure. Most flock members are ok with chicks, But... there are those few who would cause harm. Good ones to cull IMO. I'd have culled that b**ch if I'd been able to figure out which one she was. I might add, that it's imperative that there be PLENTY of room in the coop for this to work. Crowded flocks tend to be more competitive for all things, including space.Broody raised chicks are integrated into the flock from the get-go. This works because the chicks have been growing up in proximity and within sight of the rest, so there is no need for any "get acquainted" time.
I've been attempting to duplicate this broody method by brooding my chicks in the run in a safe pen. They "appear" as day-olds and the flock pretty much takes their presence for granted. After raising nine batches of chicks now, I've learned that chicks under three weeks old lack the judgement to be able to mingle with the adults. In other words, younger than three weeks, chicks don't fully realize the danger that adult chickens pose to them and they're more vulnerable to being injured.
Therefore, at age three-weeks, I open small 5 x 7 inch portals from their safe pen into the run. The chicks are very fast and agile by this age, and they are able to outrun any adult who might be thinking of bullying chicks for sport. Their food and water is inside the safe pen I call a "panic room", and the chicks don't have to be fearful of competing for these essentials.
In all these years, I've had just one casualty integrating at such a young age. I hadn't seen the possibility of a small head being thrust through the large mesh of the fencing and a chick was scalped by a curious rooster. Now I run smaller mesh netting around the bottom of the enclosure to prevent this.
I usually move the chicks into the coop at age five weeks, and it's generally a breeze since they've been members of the flock for all their lives already.
My ideal is to let broody out to free range with chicks at about a week old. But, I don't let them mingle in the coop at that time. This is totally dependent on your flock dynamics and the placement of the broody in that hierarchy. Broody hormones are at their peak in the first 2 weeks after hatch, and she is more apt to thrash any one who messes with her babies at that time. However, my gal was at the bottom of the pecking order, and some of the hens liked to separate her from her babies just for sport. Roo liked the babies, would tidbit them, but wouldn't protect them or Mama. Just know your flock, and be aware of flock dynamics. If you can supervise that yard stroll, go for it!This is what I wonder about as well. I have a nursery coop/pen right next to the main coop/pen. My chickens free range during the day. The chickens have been very curious about the chicks and are always walking up to the nursery coop looking at them. A few hens pecked at the chicks through the chicken wire and so I put some hardware cloth along the bottom of the nursery to prevent the pecking and also to stop the chicks from running through the chicken wire (lol).
I let some of the hens go into the little nursery with the other hen and chicks while I'm right there supervising and it seems like some hens are great (my little silkie loves the little babies) and some are pecky.
Anyways, the brooding hen wants out of the nursery and she wants to take her 3 day old babies out for a stroll in the yard.