I've been poking around the forums and just can't find this issue addressed. I am new to chickens and have been "collecting" chicks thru the spring/summer and have recently formed 2 flocks out of the original 25, different types and ages. All started as chicks this year. Here it is in summary:
I started with 12 Golden Comets in May, added 8 slightly younger EEs, Plymouth Rocks and Black Sexlinks, and then had slightly younger chicks not ready for the weather that are 4 Black Marans and 1 tiny Silkie. These were raised as somewhat separate flocks due to the age and need differences. Now I have integrated the oldest 2 flocks completely and given 8 of them to my neighbor who lost her entire flock to a bear earlier this year. I currently have a flock of 7 Comets, 1 Plymouth Rock, 1 Black Sexlink, 3 EEs, 2 Mixed Black marans all doing great and in the coop together. I have gotten my first egg...Yay!
However, the younger flock now consists of a gorgeous Black Maran rooster, 1 nice tempered Black pullet and the tiny Silkie who is about the size of a robin and totally bonded with the roo/cockerel. Having a roo was unintentional. I am trying to figure out how to integrate all this.
While the Maran cockerel and pullet would do fine, how about the Silkie? Would the cockerel be able to defend her and establish her right to be there. In my original integration technique, I have a separated area for these critters, I spread scratch on both sides of the fencing material so they eat together and have a common waterer so they can get acquainted without killing each other. Eventually, I put them all on coop perches at bedtime and let them wake up together. The roo and some of the dominant pullets have sparred thru the fencing and the roo wins every time, though he is slightly smaller bodied. My concern is for the very small bodied silky...she is pure white, all the other chickens are either brown/tan or black featured. How small is too small? She is fully feathered and seems to respond back to challenges in her current flock quite well but does depend on the cockerel for her main friendship. Interesting dynamics....any input or suggestions from you more seasoned "flock integraters"?
It sounds to me like you have everything handled pretty well, but are nervous about taking the last step of full integration.
I don't have any silkies, but a friend has integrated bantams and silkies in to her flock of LF and she didn't have any problems. A point in your favor is the larger flock is still pretty young--I have found it more challenging to introduce into a flock that has been established for several years. The pecking order is pretty fixed by then.
A couple of things-
-If you can let them out to free range with supervision, they can interact in a less crowded space and hopefully get things sorted out. If you introduce them and its a tight fit, there may not be anywhere for the submissive one to run and increase the odds for injury.
-For me, the ones at the bottom of the pecking order were the ones most likely to bully the new comers. Your roo may be challenging the top ones but the silkie may get picked on by one of the other ones so keep an eye on everyone.
-You may need to remove a bully from the larger flock if there is too much fighting. I have put one or two in to a dog crate for a day or two to get the flock dynamics mixed up a bit when introducing a new one/s
-This year I had 2 sets of 2 to introduce to the larger flock at different times. In both cases, I saw the more dominant one help the out more submissive and come to their defense
-The only one I've been worried about was the introduction of my Salmon Faverolles, Soleil. She is really jumpy and panics at her shadow. She won't defend herself and runs off screaming which only eggs on the others. Luckily she was paired with a Dark Brahma so she runs to Millie and the others don't persue Soleil since Millie is bigger than them. I suspect if your silkie will stand up for herself and she has a friend, she will be fine.
-Have a visual screen up so the introduced ones have a place to run and 'hide' from a bully
-Have plenty of things to occupy the other girls to distract them--flock blocks, hay, treats etc
-Change around the perches or other furniture, add objects like a hay bale or chair to the run so the established ones aren't as comfortable in their surroundings.
I suspect that when you take the plunge, you will find the integration easier than expected.