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Training Chickens

Poll Results: So, will you try this?

This is a multiple choice poll
  • 56% (25)
    Yes, right away!
  • 4% (2)
    No, It seems stupid
  • 13% (6)
    no, maybe later
  • 20% (9)
    no, my chickens are already trained
  • 0% (0)
    no, I don't think it will work
  • 6% (3)
    yes, I am going out the door right now
44 Total Votes  
post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 

I found this online, so I'll post it here.

 

 

As expected, it is easier to train day old chicks.  Spending time with them from the beginning, handling them frequently, observing them and teaching them how to roost, drink and eat are certainly bonding experiences.  The baby chicks imprint on you as their parent.   As the chicks grow, so does the bond.  It is only natural that a loving relationship develops between the chicks and their human family.  However, this does not mean that you cannot teach an old bird new tricks.
 
I am a firm believer that personalities cannot be changed. Therefore, even an unaware chicken may be a snuggler and not even realize it!  It is up to you to "activate" that part of your chicken's brain.  If you follow the techniques below on a regular daily basis, by the end of the month, you should soon discover who enjoys human company more than the others.  There are four essential parts of creating the right environment for training your flock.

Set the Mood/Ambiance 
 
1.  Get comfortable.  Have a seat where you can sit and spend some time, at least 20 minutes with your flock.  It can be a plastic chair, a couple bales of hay, whatever you prefer.  Just somewhere you can sit and be still.  Do not move around.  Do not make large sudden movements.
 
2.  Quiet times.  Be sure you are in the coop during quieter times.  Not first thing in the morning, when the chickens find they need to frantically inspect the run for any new bugs that have arrived since they went to bed.  I find it is best in the late afternoon.  Be sure there is nothing around the coop that could be potentially scary for the flock.  Put the dog inside.  Turn off noisy machinery, radios and the like.  Create a zen-like atmosphere for their training.
 
3.   Treats:  I suggest grapes and raisins.  Only share these treats with the chickens when you are ready to sit down in the coop.  At no other times should they receive these treats.  Condition the flock to know that these are special and only available when you are present.  You'll see, soon enough, they will practically throw themselves at you to get one of these sweet treats!
 
4.  Talk it up.  Talk to them like they are newborn babies.  Let them get used to your voice.  Repeat certain phrases and words to them.  This helps their brains connect your words with their feeling safe and getting treats.
 
Begin to Train you Chickens
 
1.  Enter your coop and take a seat.  Keep the treats in a small cup in your lap.  Gently call the flock over one by one.  If they are at first hesitant, drop a few raisins close to your feet and remain still and quiet.  Once they come over to investigate, gently speak to them.  Drop a couple more.  Then put a couple in your hand and place it low by their heads.  See if any will take it from your hand.  Keep doing this everyday if possible.  After a few days, the flock should recognize what you are doing and come to expect your visits.
 
2.  Once they are comfortable eating out of your hand, during the next time they eat out of your hand, see if they will let you gently stroke the feathers on their backs.  Keep doing this for a few days.
 
3..  Once the flock is comfortable eating out of your hand and being petted at the same time, place a couple raisins or grapes on your lap and wait.  Don't be surprised if some of them jump up and eat.  Pet their feathers on their backs.  Keep doing this until they are comfortable. 
 
4.  Finally, after they are comfortable on your lap, try to pick up one of the chickens.  With your hands wrapped around their wings and your thumbs over the tops of the wings, gently guide them to your lap and reward them with a grape or raisin.  
 
It does take time and dedication on your part, but yes, you can train new and old chickens to discover and enjoy time with their human family.  After the chickens become familiar with you, then you can introduce other family members and train the chickens to like them using the same steps that you did.  With a lot of time and patience, you will soon discover at least one snuggler in your flock.  
 
 As always after handling your chickens, be sure to change your clothing and wash your hands thoroughly. Also wash your face, if you were lucky enough to get some chicken hugs!

I am the mama of 9 full-grown hens: 1 Dominikers, 1 Partridge Rock, and 2 Buff Orpingtons, and 5 gold comets

Join my RPG!!  http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/745405/walk-in-the-wild-wolf-rpg#post_10488392

Or this one!!  http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/748669/pride-of-the-serangheti-a-lion-pride-rpg-needs-members

Or, this one!!  http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/764630/stray-wild-feral-ca...

Reply

I am the mama of 9 full-grown hens: 1 Dominikers, 1 Partridge Rock, and 2 Buff Orpingtons, and 5 gold comets

Join my RPG!!  http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/745405/walk-in-the-wild-wolf-rpg#post_10488392

Or this one!!  http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/748669/pride-of-the-serangheti-a-lion-pride-rpg-needs-members

Or, this one!!  http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/764630/stray-wild-feral-ca...

Reply
post #2 of 25
Thread Starter 

there are also lots of other tricks, I missed part of it when highlighting.

 

Imagine every time you step into your back yard, your tame chickens happily come running to you as fast as they can, flapping their wings for extra speed. Your chickens want to be around you. At any time you can bend down and pick one up and they are fine with being held and carried around. You have trained your chickens to trust and like you. Congratulations, you are the happy owner of tamed chickens. I've been raising chickens for 30 years and have followed these steps over and over again to turn a normally cautious and skittish animal into a trained animal. Here's how you get there.

 

 

Strategy

Unfortunately, chickens have not been bred for intelligence. They've been bred to lay eggs every 18 hours, grow fast, and survive harsh weather conditions. Their general lack of intelligence, in comparison to pets like dogs,  means you need to tap into a more primal aspect of their brain, and this aspect is the food/hunger center of their brain. By causing your chickens to associate you with a safe source of food, your chickens will trust you and be trained to come to you, even if you don't currently have food. These tactics describe how to create and maintain this association.


Believe it or not, chickens have personalities, loosely associated with breed. Some of your chickens will respond better than others to these tactics according to the chickens' individual differences. I've had chickens that not only knew I was a source of food, but knew I got it from the shed. Whenever they heard the shed door open, they would come running to the shed and try to sneak past me to get in the shed. It is still an open question in my mind if the smartest, most tamed chickens are also the greediest, hungriest chickens, or visa versa.

 

Tactics

Start at chicks

Choose a few chicks to tame and keep them inside of your house in a box in the normal, recommended environments you can find described in other articles (ie: heat lamp, wood shavings, chick starter food, etc...). Hold the chicks in your hand often with a bit of napkin underneath them in case they poop. The handling and sounds of your house will help them be more comfortable with being picked up and human voices and sounds.

Hold a chick while you are watching television. Set a sleeping chick in your lap while you read a book. Cup a chick in your hand while you are eating dinner. Spend as much time as possible with your chicks. This familiarity between you and them at such a young age will help more any other single tactic.

 

 

Feed them by hand

As chicks and as they grow older, feed your tame chickens little treats by hand. I break old wheat bread into pieces and hold the pieces out them. Chickens are not picky eaters. They'll love almost any table scrapes, from breads, pastas, rice, melon, and more.

Feeding your chickens by hand accomplishes two goals. First, they are associating you with food, as mentioned above. Second, they have to get close to you to even get the food, so again your presence is being reinforced as something safe.

To this day, my chickens trust food I hold in my hand more than food on the ground. I found a big nightcrawler worm while gardening and thought I'd give it to my chickens as a treat. When I put the worm on the ground in front of them, the chickens backed up nervously as theworm wiggled around. But when I picked up the worm and held it in my hand, my chickens went wild trying to peck it out of my hand.

As your chickens grow older, and depending on the chicken, you may find that holding food in the palm of your hand can lead to painful pecks. Some chickens will be very delicate and only peck the food. Other chickens will miss the food entirely and peck your hand. As a chick, this is no problem, but as the chicken gets stronger and bigger, I often hold the food out pinched between my fingers so the chickens don't have to aim their pecks as well to miss my hand.

 

Continue to Spend Regular Time With Them

Regularly spend time near your chickens to maintain and reinforce that your presence is a good thing for them. My family often has picnics in the back yard with the chickens. The chickens love to visit us and accept our handouts. Did you know chickens will eat enchiladas?Activities like yard work, and gardening will also help you be near your chickens. When I mow the lawn, the chickens follow behind me, delighted to scratch and peck through the fresh mulch. Often times I'll read a book outside in a lawn chair. The chickens will happily mill around my feet. 

 

I hope you get started training your chickens soon. 

I am the mama of 9 full-grown hens: 1 Dominikers, 1 Partridge Rock, and 2 Buff Orpingtons, and 5 gold comets

Join my RPG!!  http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/745405/walk-in-the-wild-wolf-rpg#post_10488392

Or this one!!  http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/748669/pride-of-the-serangheti-a-lion-pride-rpg-needs-members

Or, this one!!  http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/764630/stray-wild-feral-ca...

Reply

I am the mama of 9 full-grown hens: 1 Dominikers, 1 Partridge Rock, and 2 Buff Orpingtons, and 5 gold comets

Join my RPG!!  http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/745405/walk-in-the-wild-wolf-rpg#post_10488392

Or this one!!  http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/748669/pride-of-the-serangheti-a-lion-pride-rpg-needs-members

Or, this one!!  http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/764630/stray-wild-feral-ca...

Reply
post #3 of 25
Thread Starter 

any, building off those basic building blocks, there are lots of other tricks to teach!

I am the mama of 9 full-grown hens: 1 Dominikers, 1 Partridge Rock, and 2 Buff Orpingtons, and 5 gold comets

Join my RPG!!  http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/745405/walk-in-the-wild-wolf-rpg#post_10488392

Or this one!!  http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/748669/pride-of-the-serangheti-a-lion-pride-rpg-needs-members

Or, this one!!  http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/764630/stray-wild-feral-ca...

Reply

I am the mama of 9 full-grown hens: 1 Dominikers, 1 Partridge Rock, and 2 Buff Orpingtons, and 5 gold comets

Join my RPG!!  http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/745405/walk-in-the-wild-wolf-rpg#post_10488392

Or this one!!  http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/748669/pride-of-the-serangheti-a-lion-pride-rpg-needs-members

Or, this one!!  http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/764630/stray-wild-feral-ca...

Reply
post #4 of 25
Thread Starter 

Baby chicks learn very quickly. If you separate them from the other chicks during training they have the ability to do many different types of tricks and will do them for nothing more than compliments and praise! It takes less than five minutes to teach a baby chick each of these tricks.
Climb the ladder-Place chick on forefinger and push your forefinger from the other hand up to the chicks breast gently, while telling the baby, "Climb the ladder, smart baby climb the ladder" using a happy tone of voice. After a few tries you baby chick will happily climb the ladder and then look up at you waiting for his or her moment of praise. The chick will happily climb from one of your fore fingers to the next until you stop or the chick get tired. Make sure you do not have the chick more than 8 inches from the ground when attempting this with very young chicks. A fall can cause internal injuries.
 Play dead-Gently cover the baby chicks face while calling out, sadly, "Poor baby, play dead". Gently grasp the back of the chick and hold down the wings as you turn the chick over on it's back, cover the chicks eyes and gently lean the head and back in the palm of your hand. If the chick tries to get up just cup your free hand over the eyes and say, "No, No, play dead.."then slowly remove your palm from their eyes.  The chick will learn to stay. Then when a few seconds is over, lift the baby up and say, "Smart baby you're not dead!" and "Pretty baby" and the chick will get up and get excited, looking to you for more praise and more tricks!!
Chickens have natural instincts as well as, the ability to learn. They love attention and praise. Some people use snacks or "clicker's" to get their chickens to do tricks. I have found that snacks can be very distracting. My chickens will do their tricks for praise and compliments and a snack after the show is finished. I have taught my baby chicks to "Climb the Ladder", "Give mama a kiss", "Peek a Boo!" and "Play dead" in less than five minutes. They can even choose different colored papers when I tell them the color I want.

I am the mama of 9 full-grown hens: 1 Dominikers, 1 Partridge Rock, and 2 Buff Orpingtons, and 5 gold comets

Join my RPG!!  http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/745405/walk-in-the-wild-wolf-rpg#post_10488392

Or this one!!  http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/748669/pride-of-the-serangheti-a-lion-pride-rpg-needs-members

Or, this one!!  http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/764630/stray-wild-feral-ca...

Reply

I am the mama of 9 full-grown hens: 1 Dominikers, 1 Partridge Rock, and 2 Buff Orpingtons, and 5 gold comets

Join my RPG!!  http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/745405/walk-in-the-wild-wolf-rpg#post_10488392

Or this one!!  http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/748669/pride-of-the-serangheti-a-lion-pride-rpg-needs-members

Or, this one!!  http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/764630/stray-wild-feral-ca...

Reply
post #5 of 25
Thread Starter 

bump.

I am the mama of 9 full-grown hens: 1 Dominikers, 1 Partridge Rock, and 2 Buff Orpingtons, and 5 gold comets

Join my RPG!!  http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/745405/walk-in-the-wild-wolf-rpg#post_10488392

Or this one!!  http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/748669/pride-of-the-serangheti-a-lion-pride-rpg-needs-members

Or, this one!!  http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/764630/stray-wild-feral-ca...

Reply

I am the mama of 9 full-grown hens: 1 Dominikers, 1 Partridge Rock, and 2 Buff Orpingtons, and 5 gold comets

Join my RPG!!  http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/745405/walk-in-the-wild-wolf-rpg#post_10488392

Or this one!!  http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/748669/pride-of-the-serangheti-a-lion-pride-rpg-needs-members

Or, this one!!  http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/764630/stray-wild-feral-ca...

Reply
post #6 of 25
Thread Starter 

anyone??

I am the mama of 9 full-grown hens: 1 Dominikers, 1 Partridge Rock, and 2 Buff Orpingtons, and 5 gold comets

Join my RPG!!  http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/745405/walk-in-the-wild-wolf-rpg#post_10488392

Or this one!!  http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/748669/pride-of-the-serangheti-a-lion-pride-rpg-needs-members

Or, this one!!  http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/764630/stray-wild-feral-ca...

Reply

I am the mama of 9 full-grown hens: 1 Dominikers, 1 Partridge Rock, and 2 Buff Orpingtons, and 5 gold comets

Join my RPG!!  http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/745405/walk-in-the-wild-wolf-rpg#post_10488392

Or this one!!  http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/748669/pride-of-the-serangheti-a-lion-pride-rpg-needs-members

Or, this one!!  http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/764630/stray-wild-feral-ca...

Reply
post #7 of 25

sounds interesting

post #8 of 25
Thank you SOOOO MUCH so very helpful!!!!! big_smile.png
I have two chickens named Salt (White Leghorn) and Pepper (Silver Laced Wyandotte), born on April 28th 2012
Reply
I have two chickens named Salt (White Leghorn) and Pepper (Silver Laced Wyandotte), born on April 28th 2012
Reply
post #9 of 25

The only training I give my birds is to come to me when I give the food call.  However, they come but they still keep their distance.

post #10 of 25

Thanks for all the Tips, can't wait to try them. My Girls are now about 8 weeks old and I could hold them previously but lately

they run from me. Will try several of these ideas and hope for the best!
 

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