We currently have 6 red sex links (6 months old) and 6 Black sex links (3 weeks old). We clearly aren’t ready to combine the flocks but am looking for advice for when the time comes! I’d like for it to go as smooth as possible!
Truthfully, I would be getting it done sooner than later. Last spring I have very good luck, introducing mine at three weeks, but a lot depends on your current set up.
In your run and coop, are they just open space? Often times I see set ups in which the birds are only allowed to use 2 dimensions of space. By adding platforms, hideouts, roosts in the run, birds can get out of sight of each and that really helps with integration.
I sectioned out a space in my run, using lattice panels. In there I had a shelter to protect them from the wind. I had a wooly hen for warm ups that I kept in a dog crate. I turned the hens out of the coop/run the day I took them down there. The chicks could go through the lattice like water, but they really didn't do it much the first day. I went down several times, kind of chased them, so they would know where the safe zone was.
At night, I picked up the dog crate and put it into the coop. In the day time back in the safe zone. Within a couple of days, the chicks were going in and out of the zone like water, if they got chased or pecked they had a safe spot. A week later, I went down, one panel had fallen over, the hens and chicks were all eating and getting along, so I took it down.
Effortless, and easy. Because of the panel, I did not lock my chicks in, but they did have a safe zone. I think by allowing the chicks to explore and return to safety on their terms and the layers terms, they quickly learn the proper chicken society. Much faster than if I was controlling when and how long the interaction took place.
I worried about this, but did not have a broody hen. In my opinion, earlier the better.