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How to Keep Baby Chicks From Pecking Each Other

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How to Prevent Baby Chicks From Pecking Each Other

There’s no sugarcoating it: chickens can be downright violent. If you’re new to raising chickens, you’ll notice how young they are when they begin competing for dominance.

Some of these little pecks are no big deal. But baby chicks are fragile. If you don’t intervene, chicks can easily kill each other. Why do they do this? And more importantly, how can you stop squabbles between baby chicks?

In this article, we’ll talk about why chickens are so keen on hurting each other. And further, how to keep your chickens from pecking each other to death.

Why Do Chickens Peck Each Other?

Like most animal behaviors, the answer to this question is a little complicated. There are a lot of answers, and it’s usually some combination of them.

Social Structure

The first thing anyone raising chickens needs to know is that they’re highly social animals. They live in small flocks naturally. And like most animals that live in small groups, there are small social structures at play.

Chickens will begin struggling for dominance almost immediately after being born. These relationships will last into adulthood.

If these social structures are managed carefully, chickens usually get along nicely. But if the group’s dynamic is out of balance, it will result in near-constant bullying.


More pertinent to baby chickens is the issue of competition. A baby chick’s first instinct is to take as much valuable nutrition as possible for itself. From a biological perspective, it benefits each chick if all of its siblings die.

This causes a strange behavior in baby chicks. If one of their siblings seems sick, or weak, or has blood on it, they will peck at it mercilessly.

Luckily, it doesn’t have to be like this for chicks in captivity. We’ll talk more in a minute about how to curb baby chicks’ competitive instincts.

Sex Ratios

When a group of chicks hatch, they will be more or less 50/50 male and female. But as adults, a single male will often “control” as many as ten or so females.

If a flock of chickens has too many males, those males will usually fight each other. But they may also pick out a few females to take their frustration out on.

Strategies for Stopping Pecking

That’s a lot of nastiness. It’s also a good reminder that domestic chickens still have a lot of wild animal in them. On to the more important topic, how can we stop our chicken friends from fighting? Here are a few key tips.


For baby chicks, it’s important that they have an abundance of everything they need. Lots of clean water, lots of clean food, and clean surroundings. Competition starts when the chicks feel like there isn’t enough to go around.

Therefore, if you make sure there always is enough to go around, they won’t go out of their way to hurt each other. Keeping a clean environment for your chicks is part of this. Clean food, clean water, clean brooder.

You also want to make sure their brooder is just the right temperature. Not too warm, not too cold. Remember, once there is a scarcity of any resource, they will start to fight over it.

Red Light

Another bright idea you can implement is to use a red light bulb in the brooder. If a chick gets blood on it for any reason, its siblings will peck and peck until it dies.

The best way to avoid this is to make it so they can’t see blood. Red light hides any blood on their feathers or skin.

Reducing Stress

Keeping a generally stress-free environment will also reduce squabbling as your chicks grow up. It’s safe to say chickens don’t have very good emotional intelligence. When they get stressed, their brains tell them to start fighting for more resources.

So as they grow, make sure they have enough space. Keeping them outside in a safe coop will help with this. The happier they are, the less reason they’ll have to fight.

Keeping them healthy is another key part of this. Be sure to watch for signs of illness in your chickens. To simple animals like chickens, healthy equals happy.

Creating a Good Group Dynamic

Lastly, it’s important to watch your chickens as they grow. As soon as you’re able, find out if your chicks are male and female.

As they start to form a flock for life, it will be important to build a strong dynamic. Remember, the general rule is 10 hens to every rooster. If you have too many males, you may have to give some away in order to keep the group happy and healthy.


  • I have 13 silkies 1 week old and 4 polish 3 days old I just put them together and polish are getting picked on .is this normal? Should I separate them?

    Toni Silveira on

  • I have one chick that keeps pecking the some other chicks back talon? How do I get it to stop

    Lisa on

  • I just experienced this!! 12pm & everyone is asleep but the bay chicks are getting louder & Louder! So I go check on them to find one being a big bully and poking all the other babies eyes out!! Two of my chicks have a really red eye now! I really hope they’re not bleeding! Would their eyesight grow back if something like that happend?? I hate to separate the one bully & put him in a separate box & the rest of the babies stopped pecking😅 I was so confused why the one was doing that!! But Also, it could’ve been my waterer hasn’t been working right & keeps leaking all of the water out or it could be because I think I may have a runt cause he was mainly pecking at the smallest chick :( I’m going to keep him separated until the morning & see how they do tm! 🐣🐔🐓

    Kaylyn on

  • I have 2 chicks, about 2 weeks old. Chick 1 is bossy over chick 2. Pushes its head when feeding, & pecks at it. But becomes very upset when chick 2 is removed from the brooder. I am hand feeding chick 2 and carrying it in a pocket. When I put chick 2 back into the brooder chick 1 runs around it in circles & begins pecking at its head again. These are brahmas, which I thought were pretty docile. Don’t know what to do. I’ve only raised Wyandottes before.

    Linda on

  • on the first day home with 2 day old chicks, one of 8 would peck at the eyes of the others. when removed, none of the other chicks took up pecking at the others. a little thumb on the back of the head for discipline would stop the pecking for a while, maybe ten minutes. removed it again. no others pecked. these are supposed to be social chicks – black star sex link and plymouth barred rock. If it’s a rooster, it has to go. want the chicks only for eggs and pets. one bad apple can spoil it.

    dave on

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