Please excuse the question if it has been addressed before, but I searched and did not find the answer. I'm a complete newbie and just got my first chicks yesterday. They are approximately 4-6 week old. Six are Ameraucanas (Not Easter Eggers) (2 LF and 4 bantams, 3 of which are from John Blehm's hatchery) and a silver bantam Polish that we're really hoping is a pullet. They made a soggy mess of the bedding in their very temporary home in our dining room which happens to be a big cat playpen and while cleaning it out they had a freak out and flew the coop. I was moving very slowly but it did not seem to make much difference to them as one got scared and the others followed.
Granted, the set-up is very much less than ideal but their coop and run are in the works and I cannot make it happen any faster than it already is. So I have to just do the best I can. Unfortunately, it meant that they had to be caught. The cats were safely put away for the afternoon but I cannot have the chicks running loose in the house. I caught them as gently and quietly as possible without "chasing" so as not to scare them further but they were understandably very upset. And I feel terrible about the whole thing.
My question is how to "handle" them. Should I hold off on trying to pick them up and simply work on them accepting my hand and presence with mealworm treats? Would we be better off continuing to pick them up even though it really seems to frighten them? They are generally okay and calm down once I have them, but they would prefer to be with their buddies. In an ideal world, I would like "friendly" chickens but also understand that they are not dogs or cats and may never be truly friendly in that same sense and that is perfectly okay too. If I end up with as bad a case of chicken math as I think I will, there will scarcely be enough time in the day to spend loads of time with each one anyway.
We have always enjoyed watching birds (both pets and wild) and my main concern is to be able to handle them as grown hens if any need medical attention etc. I've wanted chickens for a long time and we're hoping for some fresh eggs on our small homestead.
Thanks in advance for any thoughts or tips you might have. I really want to do right by these chicks and take that responsibility very seriously.