Well the ladies peck through the cage but the little girlies just move away. With the cold and the snow and ice storm we're having I'm glad I chose to keep the cage inside the coop. I'm just hoping the ladies are getting used to them cuz the ladies don't hang out in the coop much. Well, maybe they hang inside a bit more in the cold. Considering there are 8 ladies and 6 girlies my hope is that in a week or so when I let them mingle there will be too many girlies for any single one of them to take much of a beating. They do try to sneak out of the cage when putting the feeder back in the morning. Sneaky buggers.
Not sure I can picture what you are describing. Here's the cage in it's position under the poop board. This picture was taken before I got these girlies. I had just finished building the coop and set it up with the cage holding the water station. I was getting ready to move my ladies into their new home and shut them inside with food and water while they get familiar with their new digs. After a couple of weeks they were allowed in the run again. Food and water were moved back to the run and the cage was prepared for introducing newbies.If you can unhook the bottom, and prop it up a couple of inches all the way around. You want it high enough they can go in or out, but the big girls can't get in. Then let them handle it. This will be their safety zone, and they will naturally retreat to it as needed.
Lets the chickens control it, which is way better than humans doing it on human terms.