Baby Chicks scared when we clean the papertowels

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by LouieP, Jan 8, 2015.

  1. LouieP

    LouieP New Egg

    2
    0
    7
    Dec 20, 2014
    Hello - we just received chicks from a Hatchery via the mail/ They are about 4 days old now. We clean their paper towels about the shavings at least twice a day along with the food and water. Unfortunately while doing so the chicks become frightened and run away. Is this normal? We use slow movements and talk softly but the little ones seem to be frightened.

    Open to suggestions.
     
  2. WYNot

    WYNot Chillin' With My Peeps

    416
    91
    128
    Mar 19, 2013
    Casstown, OH
    Just chickens being chicken.

    Ours freak out when we spread wood shavings. Once it is on the ground all is right in the universe but when I'm tossing handfuls of it around they leave the coop.
     
  3. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

    31,452
    3,532
    538
    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon
    Baby chicks are well aware they're at the bottom of the food chain. They also know death comes from above. Try putting your hands down at their feet and picking them up from underneath, then cuddle the other hand over top of them like momma would. They'll settle right down, and they'll eventually get used to you keeping things clean. They're just little babies with no momma to tell them what is okay, and are trying to stay alive.
     
    1 person likes this.
  4. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

    9,963
    2,953
    421
    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    Is your brooder on the floor? Are you bending over the edge and reaching down from above?

    Baby chicks think your hands are hawks dive bombing them. That's why they run away - they're scared to death!

    If you possibly can do it, try placing your brooder on a table or saw horses. If the brooder is cardboard, cut a door into one side. Leave the bottom edge intact and that will act as a hinge. You can fasten the door/flap with a stick attached above it with a screw or even note book hole clip.

    The objective is to handle the chicks from the side on their level. This way they can see your hands are attached to you and not some scary predator from the sky.
     
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2015
  5. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener True BYC Addict

    18,960
    6,426
    526
    Nov 7, 2012
    CENTRAL MAINE
    Do you remove them from the brooder when you change the paper towels? I keep a large paper bag or even a cardboard box to set them into when I clean out the brooder. If you leave them in the brooder while you clean those paper towels out, they'll be terrified. Those big white things coming down from the sky look just like a huge bird of prey coming to eat them.
     
  6. MisfitMarie

    MisfitMarie Chillin' With My Peeps

    543
    92
    118
    Oct 20, 2014
    Portland, OR
    Just a random thought, sorry if this is a little off-topic. Do you any of you notice a difference in behavior between hatchery-born chicks and chicks hatched at home?

    Maybe it's just me, but my hatchery Easter Eggers that I bought from the feed store were extremely skittish as well... scared of everything, especially me. I had to work with them for over a week to become even the slightest bit comfortable around me. They would absolutely freak out any time I quietly tried to change the food, water, etc.

    However... the chicks that I have been hatching at home, in my own incubator... seem much more calm. Once moved to the brooder, there is certainly an adjustment... but they warm right up to me: jumping onto my hands when I'm trying to clean or move stuff... trying to burrow underneath or running over to my side of the brooder to peep in my face, telling me all about their day....

    I watched a clip on how hatcheries hatch chicks... I'm not an expert, so I'm sorry if I'm sharing incorrect information. If I am, correct me. But hatchery chicks seem to have a rather stressful/traumatic beginning... and that's aside from shipping... vs. chicks hatched in the peace and quiet of home and who do not have to endure shipping.

    Could this be a factor ? Or is it just coincidence?

    And Louie, have you tried lots of TREATS? Little chicks love treats!
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2015
  7. LouieP

    LouieP New Egg

    2
    0
    7
    Dec 20, 2014
    Our brooder is off the floor and the doors open on the side. The height is about three feet tall off the floor. We were changing the paper with them in the brooder - slowly rolling the paper towels and replacing them as we go.

    Have now moved on to just shavings and they seem to be doing better.
     
  8. TaylorHobbyFarms

    TaylorHobbyFarms Chillin' With My Peeps

    658
    11
    133
    Dec 2, 2010
    We use paper towels for the first week in our brooders as well. Being frightened while changing them out happens with ours as well. It doesn't hurt them in the long run and they'll forget about it quickly. Occasionally we will sprinkle a small amount of crushed mealworms on their newly changed papertowels and it isn't long before they are happy to see us.
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by