Dear Rosey Cheeks,
Hi, I am new to this forum, but am a mother and grandmother, and have only had my tiny flock of chickens for a few months (2 senior Turken hens, 3 Rhode Island Red pullets, and a RIR rooster) and . . . . . . . golly, I'm pretty sure this could get me into trouble, but while reading through this thread, your post being the very last, I was almost in tears! I hope this doesn't get me banned from this forum for speaking out. . . but apparently, since there is no other post following yours and it was posted in 2011, I'm guessing that no one ELSE thought anything of it, or if they did, they are too nice to say anything. I guess I'm not very nice . . . .
You LET your three year old "try" to kick the chickens?? What in the world are you thinking woman?? I have 6 children, 15 grandchildren and I have never allowed ANY of them to "try" to kick, squeeze, swat, chase, whack with a plastic toy, back up and try to sit on ANY animal/pet. Children are supposed to be raised to be respectful of life, especially helpless creatures who depend on humans for their very lives. It isn't cute, it's bad behavior. And it should be dealt with, the child needs to be taken aside and told in the strongest terms that it is a "NO", NOT acceptable. And then reinforce that NO however your discipline process works. Otherwise, if you can't do that, then you need to remove "ONE" or the other of your "pets" from the area/home so that the weaker one (the chicken) is not terrorized by the bigger one (your child).
In case you "missed" it in the earlier posts, STRESS can do realllllllly bad things to chickens. I guess you don't consider being chased by a "being" over 8 times your size, who may or may not actually connect with that foot hurtling towards them to be stressful??
I worked in a vets office for almost 5 years when I was younger and the number of "pets" who came to us because some over-indulgent parent thought it was "cute" to see their small child, toddler or youngster "play" with the new ____________________ (puppy/kitten/easter bunny/easter chick/hamster/guinea pig/ferret . . . ). I saw these pets with crushed toes from being stepped on, cracked hips from being "sat" on, one little kitten with her tail chopped off because "junior" put her under a metal trash can and then SAT on it, her tail was caught out and painfully severed. I saw puppies and kittens with dislocated front shoulders from being picked up and carried around under their "armpits" like a ragdoll with their entire body weight being suspended by those delicate joints by children whose parent thought it was "so cute" to see junior take pet with him all over the house. . . .
Then there were the (rare, thank God) times we were brought family pets who the family wanted destroyed/euthanized because they had snapped at/bitten/scratched/growled at a child. Now, please understand, I personally would never tolerate a pet that "out of the blue" or because of a temperament issue went after anyone, especially a child . . . . but I'm talking about "family pets" who the family had owned since they were very young, pets that had been raised with the babies/toddlers and they ALWAYS said the same thing "We just can't understand it, poochie was so loving to junior, they "played" together all the time and poochie has NEVER displayed any sign of this. . . . we just don't know how this could have happened, how our sweet pet could turn so aggressive .. . . he has always been so tolerant and loving with junior . . . ."
So, after talking with mommie and daddy, what sort of "play" was junior into? "Playfully" pulling poochie's ears/tail/hair . . . or taking poochie's food away - out of their mouth . . . . or stuffing them into a closet/drawer/box/trunk, or chasing pet, or running over them with the hot wheels/tricycle or giving poochie a bath in the toilet (poochie in that instance was a tiny chihuahua - had so much water in his lungs he got pneumonia and almost died . . . (probably would have been kinder to him to let him die than to live with the torment that eventually led to have him put down because likely he was only trying to protect himself 7 months later from the little monster). . . .
I'm sorry if this offends you, and you can excuse it and rationalize it all you want, I don't care. All I can hope is that your child, who is now 5 years old isn't pulling wings off butterflies, because as the RESPONSIBLE parent I pray you are, you stopped him from EVER "(my 3 y/o likes to try and kick the birds)" doing that again.
/sigh ok, this is my first post to this terrific website and I guess we'll see if it ends up being my last . . . I'm not a jerk, really, I just don't understand how people can turn a blind eye or deaf ear to the pitiful cries of the helpless. Of course, maybe this thread is so aged that no one reads it, but I'm hoping that the "notified when others reply" button is checked for whomever needs to understand.