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Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by AriLovesChickens, Sep 13, 2011.
ETA...oops, double post.
(and what helps get them that way?)
I have an assortment of eight chicks. They're now two weeks old and still very skittish. Only a few will tolerate me touching them without always running off - which I believe are the Dominique, the Orpington, and another yellow one, which maybe is the New Hampshire Red (I'm not sure, as I expected it to be darker). The Wyandotte occasionally tolerates me. The other four (Sussex, Delaware, Buckeye, Australorp) flutter away like they're being tortured. And none of them like being held at all.
My sister has a few chickens (which free range), and it's impossible to get near them. I'd rather not have all mine turn out that way.
I would like to know this as well. I'm in the same situation you are.
My BOs, all 16 of them, loved me from the minute I opened the little box they came in until I sold 5 of them and then 5 more. They were rather skittish about being picked up until I rehomed the young rooster. Now once again they love all of us. It creeps the kids out sometimes. They will be having a get together outside and the hens now 4 months old are all over them. They even watch the tv from the porch and will come inside if the slider is open. To get them loving you? FOOD! Call them Chick Chick Chick everytime you have food for them. People laugh but my girls come running to me. Better than either of our dogs. Oh and we gave belly scratches while they were quilly. They prefer us if we put our hand down palm up and wiggle our fingers, they will walk up right over and hands and push each other for a scratch. We never put our hands above their heads. That is predator behavior.
Oops, posted twice. See other thread.
In my experience....they rarely get tamer as they grow older. My flock consists of a variety of hens from different sources. Some I got anywhere from 3-6 weeks old from local people and these hens don't willingly allow touch, other than to squat for me occasionally. Then I built an incubator and raised some chicks and it is an entirely different story. Because I was the first thing they saw, they apparently think I'm their mother and will jump up onto my lap every time I sit down in the lawn chair. They hover close to my feet and I can pick them up any time, and if I go out on the deck, one will always run up to jump up and sit on the deck rail right next to me so that I can pet her. One even loves to sit on my shoulder and will stay there 10-15 minutes before jumping down.
Right now I have a batch of chicks who are 3 weeks old but raised by a broody. They are among the most skittish of them all.
So in answer to your question, it is unlikely the chicks you have now will ever be as tame as it sounds like you want them to be, but don't give up. Hatch a few and raise them and you'll get your friendly chooks.
I have found this true of nearly all chicks at 2 weeks old. I have one that is now 4 weeks old and doesn't freak out when I reach in the brooder to get him, but he is the one I have handled the most. Your Dominique and Orpington will continue to be sweet birds. I am particularly fond of the Dominiques. Treats, treats, and treats will bring them to you. Chickens are a very food-minded animal and you will win them over accordingly. 2 weeks old seems a bit young yet to expect anything other than spazing. Even older chickens will warm up to the one who brings treats!
My chicks are seven weeks right now and they started out that way too. I still picked up each one on a daily basis and talked to them even though they didn't really like it. Around three weeks old, I introduced scrambled eggs and also tiny meal worms. They really went wild for those and started leaping up in my hand. I hand fed each one treats and now that they are in their "big girl coop" they run to see me and 7 of 11 of them will sit in my lap and want to be petted. It just takes time and consistency.
It helps if you don't approach them from above. I cut a door in the side of my brooder ( Big Sterlite Tub ) which is on a table, and when I open the door they come right up to it. Let them climb on you and don't grab for them. Let them get used to you gradually before long they will be climbing all over you. I had 18 chicks at one time. When I moved them to the outdoor brooder I would go and sit with them for a while everyday. They go through a teenage phase where they don't want much to do with you but they will warm up to you again after they start to lay. This works for me. Hope it works for you.
Thanks mods for the cut and paste!
Yeah, I've noticed they're a little less fearful if I hold my hand low and open. That's how I've gotten the slight amount of interest from the few that I have (and then I scratched their bellies).
Thanks for the tips - I'll keep at it. And I do hope to hatch a few someday, but this is all I can have for a while.