laying hens pecking chicks


5 Years
Oct 16, 2014
We have 3 laying hens and 5 chicks who are now 2 months old. We had enough of the dust in our garage and moved the chicks outside last week.

The hens are still sleeping alone in the coop, and the chicks are in a crate, of sorts, my husband made inside the enclosed (roof is enclosed, too) chicken run. Every morning, we let the hens outside the enclosed run to free range and let the chicks out of their crate to have the whole run to themselves. We run out when we can tell the hens want to lay to let them into the coop, which is obviously not sustainable since we are basically "on call" to their needs.

They have been co-existing now through wire for as least a week. We usually go out at some point to babysit the chicks as they run around in the yard. During this time, the hens peck at them a lot.

When does this stop?

How do we get them to peacefully get along?

Is there always an adjustment period and should we not worry about the pecks?

We lost a chick last week, which was traumatic for us all. My 8 year old daughter walked out to see a hawk fly off and one chick was basically scalped. Are we right in assuming it was the hawk and not one of the laying hens? This is why the chicks are now enclosed all day in the run. I'm okay with pecking, if it is normal and will work itself out, but we really don't want to lose another chick.

It perfectly normal for hens to peck the chicks whenever they are near them. What isn't normal is cornering or chasing them down. The chicks will always be lower on the pecking order and will get pecked if they don't stay out of the way. When the reach maturity and begin laying the pecking will lessen. If you watch closely most of the pecks don't hurt the chicks and the chicks scream extra loud and dramatically.

It's hard to say if the chick was injured by a hawk or another hen. The first week of chicks mingling with adults is best supervised to make sure no one is being too aggressive. Sorry you lost it.
Ok, I'm feeling a little better. They never seem to induce any damage. It just seems like light pecks when a chick gets in their space. But, since this is our first go at this, I wasn't sure if that might turn into more.

We are ready to put them all in the same coop at night, but I'm just scared of a chick being pecked in the coop and not being able to run away like they do during the day...
Oldhen is right. This is standard for chicks becoming part of the adult flock. But it doesn't need to be so stressful. If you would incorporate a panic room in the run for the chicks to find safety, there will be very little chance of injuries when the adults decide to discipline any of the chicks.

All who have used this system of integration have found that it makes things go practically without a hitch. My chicks are now ten weeks old and they still enjoy relaxing in their panic room because they know they don't need to be constantly on the alert for an adult that thinks they need discipline.

See my article linked below on outdoor brooding for details and photos.

By the way, your fears for the chicks' safety in the coop at night are without any substance. Very little danger to them when the older chickens have roosted.
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