We have successfully integrated the babies. After much research, I learned that one of the best ways to bring in new chickens is to put ALL the chickens in a brand new coop, so no one has a territorial interest. Obviously moving our massive chicken fortress was out of the question, so we did the next best thing: we totally rearranged it. It was time to clean the coop anyway, so all the old dead leaves for them to pick through were added to the compost pile, the house was moved, their perching stumps were moved, and the food and water were moved.
All of this activity successfully confused the big chickens into thinking it was a BRAND NEW CHICKEN COOP, and the babies are now living free with them with minimal fuss. It helps that they aren’t REALLY babies, we’re still waiting for their combs to grow in but they’re making big chicken noises instead of baby cheeps and have gotten significantly larger.
The downside of all the coop rearrangement is that Matilda and Lorena swear that they cannot possibly lay eggs under these unsatisfactory conditions, even after I bribed them with collard greens, parsley, cauliflower, and mealworms. For the record, cauliflower and mealworms are hugely preferred as chicken treats. I will have to get them some more, and possibly some funky orange cauliflower.