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Independent 3 weekers who don't seem to like people

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 

My three weekers are rowdy little buggers.  We got them a few days ago along with the rest of our first flock.  They were sold at an Amish animal auction at about a week old and then we bought them a few days ago through a friend of the person who bought them at auction.  I am assuming that these chicks were hatched and spent their first week of life being raised by a hen, not a person.   I say this because I can't imagine many Amish farmers using an incubator and a brooder when they could just have the mother hen do it for free without any work on their part.  Plus, they don't seem to like people.  They squawk and carry on when I or the kids hold them.  They don't ever seem to calm down (the 1 weekers from TSC protest for a second or two when picked up but then calm in your hands. Even our unknown origin 7-ish weeker calms after a moment of being held.)

 

SO MY QUESTION IS THIS: Should we leave them alone and accept the fact that they don't like people?  Should we hold them a lot so that they get used to it?  

 

I think that at least one is a rooster and I would assume that a Roo might be more brazen then the hens, but I don't really want a lifetime of a hen that I can't catch because it hates contact etc.  I want to do what will be best in the long run for the chicken, the flock and for us.

 

Thanks in advance for any comments and advice.

post #2 of 4
Patience and yummy food will go a long way to making friends with chicks. Instead of picking them up (which is very scary and predator-like), consider starting by sitting in the same area with them and talking softly in their presence. Make a trail of yummy food from the opposite side of the space up to where you're sitting. As they eat their way along it, take special care to "not notice" when they get closer to you--don't look directly at them, don't move. Become furniture. Eventually as they gain confidence that you're not going to eat them, they will likely start using you as a jungle gym. Still don't reach for them, just watch. If you keep this up, they will lose fear of you over time. Then you can start feeding them from your hand to help them lose fear of the hand. Then you can put special treats in the hand and when they climb onto it, raise the hand a few inches off the ground and hold it steady until they relax and eat their treat...then lower it to the ground before they start getting nervous again. Eventually you can try a quick pet with a finger while they're eating their treat. And so on until they get used to all sorts of handling.

The key is to (1) not act like a predator, (2) make positive associations with being handled, and (3) promote calmness.
post #3 of 4
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jensownzoo View Post

Patience and yummy food will go a long way to making friends with chicks. Instead of picking them up (which is very scary and predator-like), consider starting by sitting in the same area with them and talking softly in their presence. Make a trail of yummy food from the opposite side of the space up to where you're sitting. As they eat their way along it, take special care to "not notice" when they get closer to you--don't look directly at them, don't move. Become furniture. Eventually as they gain confidence that you're not going to eat them, they will likely start using you as a jungle gym. Still don't reach for them, just watch. If you keep this up, they will lose fear of you over time. Then you can start feeding them from your hand to help them lose fear of the hand. Then you can put special treats in the hand and when they climb onto it, raise the hand a few inches off the ground and hold it steady until they relax and eat their treat...then lower it to the ground before they start getting nervous again. Eventually you can try a quick pet with a finger while they're eating their treat. And so on until they get used to all sorts of handling.

The key is to (1) not act like a predator, (2) make positive associations with being handled, and (3) promote calmness.

They are in a large brooder.  So we are kind of towering over them. Do you recommend taking them out or getting in?  I figure getting in is more scary.  Are they too young to take outside into the grass for a bit when it is sunny and warm?...1 week, 3 weeks and 7-8 weeks.

 IMG_8503.JPG 


Edited by Werforpsu - 5/3/16 at 10:19am
post #4 of 4
Going outside is fine as long as you have a confined area (those 6-7 week olds are going to be fast!). Chicks/chickens like routine. So maybe if you have a daily play session around the same time (whether in the house or outside) that will help them get used to being rounded up for it. Use the same container for transporting them places and they will learn what it means (treats!) and may eventually run into it on their own.
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