I appear to have had a very similar upbringing during same time frame although we also went on trips with birds until entering college. I no longer do such things despite relatives still being active. As a kid our birds (hens and roosters) schooled me many times about handling bitties to a degree non-game birds are incapable. Our roosters did not attack people unless chicks and / or hens were distressed, then a rooster would flog us with same zeal as hen. My grandpa said similar when he saw us complaining about dang rooster or hen that followed us all the way to kitchen door.
I do have a fare number of same stock and they are my research assistants. Hens, one generation from the activity they are bred for, can also with proper upbringing be trained to tolerate a great deal of handling without becoming aggressive. My brother was totally taken aback when he saw me call a hen with chicks that came running and flew up on my shoulder without flogging me. She even allows me to reach down while she is on my shoulder to pickup chicks. Same hen, father of chicks, and the entire brood will be used to train kids about chicken behavior and no flogging of kids expected despite close contact.
Edit to add following photograph of Sallie and bitties just over 2 weeks old. Sallie makes no efffort to flog and puffs only slightly. I can lie down in grass and she will walk over with bitties and brood them while in contact with me.
Same hen reared under different circumstances would flog the snot out of me. Nature and nuture both factors to consider with aggression towards humans / keeper.
Edited by centrarchid - 4/25/11 at 5:30pm