How To Socialize Baby Chickens

Socializing with baby chicks to get friendly hens and roosters.
By iLoveRoosters · Feb 18, 2012 · Updated May 1, 2012 · ·
  1. iLoveRoosters
    Socializing Baby Chickens to get friendly Hens/Roos

    The worst thing to do is have un-socialized chickens that want to peck you on site, or have friends come over for us only to say "Don't touch that chicken, he's a pecker." So that's why I want to show you how to properly socialize and care for your baby chicken before all that starts to happen. Lets get started on when you first day get your baby chicks -

    -Arrival Day-
    Your chicks are around three days old, so like it says above, try to minimize any touch to your chicks on the first few days of arrival, as hard as it may be. This is because your chicks are in a completely new environment, and they should first get used to their surroundings before human contact.


    -Day Three-
    Now you can begin to introduce yourself to your new, baby chicks. You can do this my gently placing your hand inside their box, and letting them walk around your hand. Some curious ones will even start to jump on your hand. Remember, try to have slow movements, so that they won't get scared of you.

    -Day Four to Six-
    Now I would start to put chick feed on my hand, and let them eat out of it. While they eat, softly talk to them. That way, they not only get used to your voice, but they also associate your voice with food. Like I said before, try to have slow movements.

    -Day Seven to Eight-
    Now, depending on how much they are used to you, I would begin holding them. Remember to continue to hold them under the basking light, and keep them only a few inches from the ground. PLEASE, if they are afraid of you, then continue -Day Four to Six- for a few more days.

    -Week 2-
    Keep placing your hand in their box with food, softly talking to them, and sometimes holding them. And continue this for 1 week.

    -Week 3-
    They should now be excited when you put your hand in there, as they look for food. By three weeks of age, I would sometimes even pop in a few small treats in my hand. Which includes Meal worms, Chicken Grit, Homemade/Organic unflavored yogurt, etc. (Look into BYC articles for more baby chick treats)


    -Week Four / One Month-
    As they get older, be sure to continue popping your hand in their box, talking to them, holding them, and feeding them. Sometimes, I would extend my finger out in their cage, and let them perch on me while I study or read.

    You'll find that chickens can be great companions, and friends. Take many pictures, and enjoy your beautiful, baby chicks!


    -How to professionally photograph your Baby Chicks for under $2.00
    -Official Chicken Treats list
    -Chicken Anatomy (Good to know)
    Raising Baby Chicks Forum Section

    Share This Article

Recent User Reviews

  1. Sylvester017
    5/5, 5 out of 5, reviewed Apr 6, 2019
    Love reading all the varied responses to this great article. As always every breed and every individual bird within a breed responds differently toward different adults and different children. Stay "tuned in" to your baby birds and you'll eventually learn to trust each other at your own paces, My farm Mom always said baby chicks were delicate -- some were hardy but some might die right away. I heeded that advice to be careful about 3 baby chicks we brought home from the feed store (picked up on the same day they had arrived from a hatchery shipment) a couple years ago -- but after Day 1 in a kiddie pool the little Dominiques were ready to jump around, explore, and run to us when they saw or heard us talking to them! I wanted to be calm and leave them alone but those little buggers couldn't wait to jump and peck at our feet and beg for fresh chick feed in their feeder even though it was already filled! Just never know what kind of personality new chicks will display!
    DSCN8280.JPG DSCN8307.JPG DSCN8316.JPG
  2. Clubber1234
    "I love this article!!!"
    5/5, 5 out of 5, reviewed Dec 18, 2018
    Great article!
  3. ronott1
    "good article"
    3/5, 3 out of 5, reviewed Aug 23, 2018
    Helpful resource!


To make a comment simply sign up and become a member!
  1. HennyPenny2019
    Loved this. I was wondering how to raise chickens that will like me as much as I like them. I am reading and learning all I can in preparation of getting my first chickens. Thank you for sharing your knowledge.
  2. The Balcom Clan
    We're among the many who have done this "wrong" :) We held our 5 babies at a day old even though we were told to take it easy for a week. We have a 9 year old and a 5 year old, NOT holding them wasn't going to be an option! :)
    The chicks got used to our chocolate lab while scampering around our living room floor. At a week old they were already crawling all over us and perching on our shoulders. My husband has had all 5 of them fall asleep in his hands. We just listen to their chirps and can tell when the sound changes to "help me, I'm cold!". We even have taken them out in the back yard to play in the (organic) garden dirt and sunshine. Week old chicks taking dust baths is hilarious and adorable!
    So I suppose there's always exceptions to the rules. I highly doubt we've "ruined" our chicks by handling them too much or by being too friendly with them. They're just over two weeks now and they like to jump on our dog's back, hop up and down our arms and play on our floor. Did we do it "wrong"? Oh probably. Are they healthy and having fun? Yep!
  3. ninjawesome
  4. stretchy4u2
    Well I have 2 chicks I hatched last week I haven't had that much interaction with them. Now I read I should have. They peck at me I try to pet them. They are a little stand offish with me. They know my voice. what do I do now?
  5. theoldguy
    great article .There is one thing I disagree about.,Giving them baths.Once or twice a year I pull out a foot bath( like you get from the hospital),Luke arm water and baby shampoo,the water is leg deep.Chickens do get dirty and need an occasional bath, .The girls seem to love it and a few of the hens just stand in the water.Seems some breeds tame easier then others. Some of the girls eat scratch right out of my hand.Good birds:) just a note:) thanks for sharing:)
  6. RedBreasted
    I like this post! Is nice for a relationship between you and your chickens!
  7. ChickyChickens
  8. CentralOregon
    @Back2Roots -- don't worry about picking them up. If you're gentle, it's no big deal. If any of them have pasty butt, you'll end up handling them the whole time you're cleaning it up anyway. Chicks initially need heat, food, and water...coddling them is not necessary.
  9. MsRiderUp
    I had baby chicks (a few 1 day old, and a few 1 1/2 weeks old) that I bought from breeders and the feed store. So far I've had them in a box on the floor in the laundry room, and now they're in a nice 4 ft. x 8 ft. cardboard-sided pen in the garage. They have fresh water, food, heat lamp, etc. I have gone in and let them eat from my hand, but I think that me always being overhead has scared them. They have generally been afraid of me since I've had them, and the older ones seem to have helped teach them this.

    I have older hens and they're fine with people. Is there any hope to teach the babies not to be afraid of me, AND not to peck at me? They either sit still and don't move when I look in the pen to check on them, or occasionally they huddle together in a corner to get away from me. I'm not too encouraged at this point. Thanks for any suggestions.
  10. Sylvester017
    To KnkGoose - my feed store guy has been ordering hatchery chicks for his egg industry community for over 10 years. When we picked out an 8-day old chick we told him we were going to try soft cucumber centers as a toy for the chick and he recommended strawberries highly. Well, we got the chick some strawberries but she PREFERRED the cucumber!
      Ranchwithaview likes this.
  11. KnkGoose
    My girls are just over 2 weeks. Can i give them chopped strawberries and oatmeal as treats yet or should I wait til they are older?
  12. theoldguy
    Thanks to all for the nice article ,good info.:)
  13. chickincrazy
    Wow.I just got chicks, so this could really help. Before I read this, I already stuck my hand in their brooder, and already I have some results.A little buff orpington now runs up to me and tries to perch on my arm!!
  14. blondiebee181
    Pretty much what I did to my girls, and they all tolerate being caught and held pretty well. They even come when I whistle for them :)
  15. Dee Dee 2
    Great article. Thanks for taking the time to share. I use a clicker for my chickens, now all grown. If it is not handy I just imitate the clicking noise and here they come because they know there is a treat, usually mealworms. A couple of my chickens I can pick up any time. One, I call Cuddles, will come to my feet and if I don't pick her up she starts jumping up and down till I do pick her up. I wish I had (known) started using the I Love Roosters advise on babies with all my chicks. Will do it "next time". I do want to add ~ You should wash your hands throughly BEFORE and after handling (any) chickens.
    A friend picked up one my babies and it died within a couple of days. His hands were very dirty as he had been trimming horses hoofs. Was this the same chick ? Is that what killed the one that died ? No real sure ~ just saying.
  16. Sylvester017
    Nice article especially for people who have youngsters that just can't keep their hands off of pets no matter how much you tell them NOT to because it can harm the babies. Otherwise the handling of chicks I think depends largely on the breed. There are some naturally skittish breeds and there are some so darn curious you have to start letting them explore immediately on your fingers and hands. Case in point is an 8-day old Dominique chick that was one of the most curious, outgoing, friendly chicks you could ask for so she was immediately handled and bonded on the ride home from the feed and grain store. She liked being cuddled in hand as it calmed her. She didn't like her body completely surrounded by the hand but was okay with sitting in our palm and running up our shoulder and talk about a conversationalist! She LOVED to chirp conversations with humans as she explored eyeglasses, hair, clothing, laptops, mouse attachments, paper, etc. The Dom was a delightful breed whereas a Leghorn chick we had was only interested in what food you could give it and then it would run off again - it was a wonderful hen grownup and quite tame but as a chick was more of an independent thinker.
  17. ShelbyCoral
    This is great!!!
  18. colincrompton
    So I just Found this article and we've had our chicks for 4 days, So far I've been picking them up, Is it to late to restart?
  19. Animals970
    This is so stupid. By day seven my chicks is already being cuddled and being played with, and all of my chickens are very social.
  20. WindStep
    This is not how I rasie baby chicks by day 7 also they are going out side and eating bugs and grass!
  21. Pent
    I think this is more guidelines, than actual rules. If you hatched your chicks yourself, there is a good chance they've imprinted on you. No reason to not hold these chicks, I would think, as long as you're gentle. And as far as people thinking they're "doing it wrong", if your chickens turn out sociable and friendly, then your way is just as good as any other. If not, and you have trouble with fearful or pecky chickens, then by all means adjust your method. Play it by ear, if they seem afraid of you, take the slow, steady approach above. Don't chase them, is the big one. Let them come to you.
  22. Dee Dee 2
    Great infro. , thanks for taking your time to write it. I did notice in one of the pic's the chicks were in what appeared to be wood shavings.? I thought this was a no ~ no as they might eat them. I would think that would give them pastey butt. And who knows what chemicls are in the shavings.. ugh ! Maybe it is OK , I do remember seeing chicks at T.S. and other places in shavings. I put my first batch in pine pellets, actuall made for horse stalls, it worked very well. I am thinking of clean masons sand this time. Good ? Bad ?
  23. fabfowl
    That is a very nice article! I train my birds to get used to me as well... For example, I trained my baby white Chinese goose to respond when I say his name- Legolas. Generally he does four or five "peeps" when he answers back. Anyway, very nice article. I will keep your tips in mind. :)
  24. rockthecoop
    I am getting chicks on the 8th. This will be so helpful!!!!!
  25. ChickadeeRanch
    Sorry i posted it 2wice!
  26. ChickadeeRanch
    A trick i always go by is try to see through there eyes what it would be like to be handled.
    I understand what you are saying with going slow but as long as you let them come and go from your arms whenever they please and feeding them and calming them down before you let them go they should be good.
    Food is a great motivator,yes they will just think of you as just the feeder but with time they will grow to love you...and you will grow to love them!
    My girls turned 4 yesterday and I find myself running from them!
  27. rachlore
    This is so helpful, thank you!
  28. sunnyvera
    Thank you. This works great, but when broody mom raises them outside, its a different scenario. Eventually they warm up to me, but not cuddly.
  29. blr8t2
    I think personally, waiting a week to hold them is excessive. It's been a long time since I ordered chicks in the mail, I either buy a couple from the store or hatch them. When I buy them I hold them from day one. When i hatch them I hold them as soon as they are dried. At first when you stick your seemingly giant hand in the cage they start at first but get used to it. My opinion, with animals, if they are scared or startled you don't back off and start again another day, you continue to make them feel comfortable and chicks adapt FAST. Every one of my hens is sweet, only a couple will actually LET you pick them up, they prefer not. But when you do, they do not fuss or peck. My roosters are all nice a well. No chasing or pecking or threatening us humans! In fact i have a young pullet who hops up in my lap for a nap, or chases me around the coop wanting to be held. She has been that way from the beginning, slamming into the cage door until it came open, to come find me lol. If you think about it, under normal conditons a broody hen would hatch her eggs and the chicks would all hide under her wings, they are supposed to be close to another and feel protected. Some of my chicks will even burrow into my neck and fall asleep!
  30. NYREDS
    Actually I can think of many things that are worse than unsocialized chickens.
  31. youngchooklover
  32. LadyofChickRose
    Last year my chicks arrived at the feed store and when I arrived at the feed store the box they gave me was too small, so I had to watch them and put them back in the box when they tried to leap out. And when they got tired of the attempted escapes, they decided to make me their new heat source and slept under my hot, sweaty hand that was still on the edge of the box to stop them from getting out. It was cute.
  33. PekinBantam
    Thanks for the post! I will be sure to follow the instructions when we get our next batch.
  34. MemesChicks
    Very nice article--thanks for the tips and guidelines.
  35. JRchickchick
    Talking to the chicks gently when you walk over to them gets them used to your voice, and to humans. Heck, I talk to my chickens now! Especially when I gather eggs, and a hen is still on the nest. Often with that, I'll bring them a small handful of chicken scratch to let them know that my hand is a good thing, and not the enemy. When I go out in the afternoon, I bring them a treat, and my girls come running. Some breeds are just more standoffish though, like my Ameracaunas...they are a little more wild and hang at the edges of my flock. Not everybody is an extrovert! :eek:)
  36. ChickenGurl101
    If I just talk to them before i start holding them, will that help them get used to me more?
  37. ellend
    My older and larger ones did pick on younger and smaller ones, even though all were purchased at one time and introduced to the coop and run all together. Many suggestions on BYC sites on this topic.
  38. debb7898
    I have a full grown flock now, but want to get 10 more in January.....We have a coop for 12...but are planning on making another in the barn...not being used right now...
    Im wondering the correct way to introduce chicks to my flock I have I need to keep them separated from the grown hens and for how long....Thanks guys.
  39. Twisted-Rooster
    Great post!!! always trying to tame my chicks!!!
  40. valschicksrus
    Ok, its been awhile that this subject has been visited, but I have a question on how to introduce younger chicks to the rest of the flock. I have chicks that were hatched 2 months earlier than my last 3 chicks I bought (they are frizzles) the others will be full sized chickens. Will I be able to mix the breeds?
  41. chickenfinch
    Great article!!
  42. mamas farm
    my hens are so friendly that it makes the roosters mad at me because ,my hens ignore the roosters and come running to me . I did wait intell day three to hold them because, I didnt want to pass any illness to them even though I wash my hands before and after holding them.And when I took them out of the incubator I used a warm rag out of the dryer to pick them up and place them in the box under the heating light.
  43. Apyl
    Interesting. I handled mine from day 1 and they are a great bunch. I have several (out of 24) that roost on my shoulder and allow my kids to walk right up and pick them up. I also didnt keep them in a brooder that long, they were sent outside to the coop by 2 1/2 weeks. Now all are 3 months old, happy, healthy, and friendly.
  44. jfishfam
    Thanks, we want friendly chickens. I think maybe I've been a little too pushy with them. I'll back off and slow down.
  45. chickenlover237
    cool but i think I raised mine wrong then the oldest are about 8 weeks old and we got them at about 2 weeks old and held them about 1-2 minuets at a time about every 20-30 min and they arent scared of me they come running when they see me outside.
  46. aoxa
    @ Back2Roots
    You can see if they have pasted butt without picking them up. Watch them. If you see them pooping, your fine. You can handle them, it's not going to kill them. Have handled all mine checking for pasty butt, but it's hard when you have a lot, so I just handle the ones I suspect of it. After week one I have never experienced pasted vents. The first few days are usually the worst. If you get chicks from an outside source, they will already probably be a few days old.
  47. Back2Roots
    I have a newbie question: if you are not supposed to handle them the first two days, then how can you check for pasty butt? I get the impression from articles I've read that this condition typically occurs in the first week or so of a chick's life and that it's important to look for signs of pasty butt early so that you can rectify the problem as soon as possible. If you can't pick them up, how can you tell if there's a problem? I haven't raised chicks yet myself, but am trying to learn as much as I can ahead of time.
  48. geordymark
    I hatch my own chicks - never bought them as hatchlings. Because i talk to them in the incubator and immediatly upon hatching i dont have to go through the same steps as above, im able to hold mine straight away and they actually take comfort in ti. they even snuggle up to me to go to sleep!
  49. JRchickchick
    When my girls get old enough, I airpop popcorn, and give them their treat daily in the afternoon, they all come running! That is one way to make sure they all come back from roaming, if you so choose. For the chicks, I did put in little plexiglas windows so they see me coming and aren't surprised. Chickens don't like surprises!
  50. JRchickchick
    I like to start giving them cooked rice or oatmeal, fairly soon, even and just 3 weeks old, just some on my hands, and talk to them. They soon learn that my hand means treats not to be scared of it. The biggest thing is to go SLOWLY, no fast movements. Some chicks will take to this before others. After a bit, when you bring treats, make sure you sprinkle them around so everybody has a chance at some, or just the biggest will scarf down all of it without letting the nervous ones get a chance.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by: