I read on Backyardchickens.com that when mixing new chicks with older chicks that you may have to be careful. A friend of mine introduced me to "the pecking order". Chickens start pecking at one another to assert dominance. "They'll peck to determine who gets to eat first and where they can roost on the perch." If you place chicks or younger chickens with more established chickens, they may get pecked to death. Chickens are a beastly animal. They are drawn to blood. They will also pick on a sickly hen. Crazy birds!
I bought an extra feeder and waterer. I bought a container to keep the chicks in. I had planned on keeping the groups separate for a bit. When I got home I took a look at my birds and thought, "they'll be fine."
I took the advice I found on Backyardchickens.com. One contributor swore by putting the new chicks in with the existing crew while the crew was sleeping. Then, make a lot of noise. Chicks flock together when something is upsetting the roost. Well, my chicks sleep, but they are light sleepers. I could never get the door to the brooder open without them noticing...especially since the heat lamp is next to the door. I had to improvise. The brooder/old dog crate needed to be cleaned. I put the existing chicks in a box. I didn't open the box of new chicks. The brooder was cleaned. I then put the new chicks in first. I told the boys that once I put in the bigger chicks that we needed to make a lot of noise. They got ready. I put the other chicks in and then turned on the Dustbuster.They boys started stomping around while playing their kazoos. They were hilarious. The chicks all scurried to the back of the brooder and stared at me. I swear they were thinking that I was crazy. Crazy me and my Dustbuster. Well, the didn't even really notice one another.
I poured two cups of food into the feeder. It's almost gone. The waterer is already filled with poop, a worm and pine chips. And I've noticed that the pecking has started. Some of the little Rhode Island Reds are feisty girls! They're two days old and they're fighting for their place under the lamp...pushing out the old girls. Odin is like Snow White with those chicks. He gently picks them up and places them on his shoulder. In the picture below he just got done saying, "Go on chickie. Jump down and go home."
For fun, we tossed in two worms. One got lifted and swung right into the waterer. The birds lost interest. The other, however, was snatched up by one little chick. An Ameraucana. She fought for that worm with an older chick and then jumped right out of the brooder with her fair share! It was a great fight and my boys were loving it.