Rooster pecking baby chicks

Petra Pancake

Jul 15, 2016
In the suburbs of Tel Aviv
I have got a broody with 3 chicks (4 days old) in the coop together with the flock. The mother hen is my highest ranking hen in the pecking order and she does an excellent job at keeping the other hens away from her baby chicks. But today I saw the rooster go after the chicks and peck them repeatedly, especially one of them. It ran away from him squeaking but he went after it. The mother hen didn't intervene. The chicks by the way are the same rooster's offspring. How dangerous for the chicks is this? I wanted to raise them with the flock and I also don't really have alternative housing for them. Do I have to separate either the mother with her chicks or the rooster to prevent murder or is this normal behavior?


Crossing the Road
13 Years
Sep 19, 2009
Holts Summit, Missouri
My best roosters will peck chicks, especially in morning as they come off the roost. Pecking though short duration an does not involve chasing. I have had roosters pick up chicks using bill but again not sustained assault. I flock rear chicks each year but not in confinement as confined rearing reduces measurably the survival rate even though I may not directly witness aggression.

If you feel rooster is being too rough on chicks, then pull him from flock as he will present less management challenges separated than will a broody hen with chicks.

Petra Pancake

Jul 15, 2016
In the suburbs of Tel Aviv
@Hybridchucks and @centrarchid, thanks. I'll watch out if there is any more aggression from the rooster and move him if necessary. In addition I'm letting my chickens "free range" for most of the day in the garden since the chicks have hatched because I've noticed that it takes a lot of pressure off the mother hen - she stays with the chicks in the coop and is much calmer while all the others roam outside. By the way, for some weird reason my thread got posted twice - I'll keep this one going and try to delete the other one.


Premium Feather Member
14 Years
Feb 2, 2009
Southeast Louisiana
I'm one that raises the chicks with the flock and have never seen a rooster attack a chick. I've never lost one to an adult either, the rooster or the other hens. But the simple fact is that you are dealing with living animals. No one can tell you how any living animal will behave. We can tell you what we see and what we expect to happen, but none of us have seen everything that could possibly happen. And we do all house them and manage them differently.

Some broody hens will kill their chicks, sometimes when they hatch. Not often but it happens. I've seen a two week old chick attack and kill its hatchmate, no integration involved. They hatched together and were being raised by a broody, who just watched. There are all kinds of things that can possibly happen as rare as they might be. I'm not going to change the way I raise them because of that one chick killing its sibling. It's too rare an occurrence to total change everything about how I manage them. How practical would it be to isolate every chick from each other?

A broody hen will sometimes peck her chicks as a form of discipline. She teaches them to do as she says. I haven't seen my roosters doing that but I could envision it as roosters sometimes help take care of the chicks. There is a difference in discipline pecking and an attack. What you describe is more of an attack, not discipline. I don't like it when they chase.

When I saw that same chick attack another sibling I isolated him for a full day. That changed his behavior, at least until he grew to butcher age. If your rooster is attacking 4-day-old chicks, I'd isolate him. I'd get rid of him also and get another one. If he is doing that there is something wrong with his instincts.

While we can tell you what we see happen and what we expect, each of us has a flock with its own dynamics and chickens with their own personality. You have to be flexible and adjust to what we see.

I'm not aware of being able to delete that other thread. You can contact an administrator by reporting it and ask them to delete it or edit the title of the thread and maybe your first post to say "never mind".


5 Years
Dec 9, 2016
My rooster used to chase and peck at the chicks, sometimes even picking them up and trying to run off with them in his beak, though never drew any blood on any of them.

I don't know if it is possible for you as the chicks are being hen-reared, but maybe during the night when all are calm and sleepy, put the chicks and rooster together while supervising them, maybe even having the roo on your lap to try and keep him calm at first. I did that with my rooster, and after that night, he accepted the little peepers as part of his flock and even tried to beat up my dad when he picked up a chick and it started squeaking as it was forage time, not cuddle time.

I dunno if it was because he was lonely due to his hen being on the nest being broody that made it happen though, as I only did that as he started to wander around the house and sulk in the hall way, but always best to give it a shot.

New posts New threads Active threads

Top Bottom