best route to kid-friendly hens?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by NancyinVa, Jan 21, 2012.

  1. NancyinVa

    NancyinVa New Egg

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    Jan 21, 2012
    Hello all,

    I'm new to the forum, happy to have a place to ask questions.

    We currently have nine 2-y.o. hens. We want to start a new group in the spring and send our current group (which we got as 12-week-olds and didn't handle a lot, so they're pretty wary of us) to our butcher-friend in the fall. We have two almost-5-y.o. children, and we'd like for them to be able to handle our new birds easily. So... should we get fertile eggs and hope to get one of our hens to hatch them (we live in a small city, can't have a rooster), or should we get a bunch of day-old chicks and keep them in a separate run/safe house till we move them into the larger coop and run in the fall? We'll have to expand the run, whether the new and old girls are separated or not. So the question is: will a hen likely try to protect her chicks from our children, or will they (and we grownups) be able to handle them?

    Thanks for any advice you can provide!

    Nancy
     
  2. Scooter&Suzie

    Scooter&Suzie Chillin' With My Peeps

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    About you wanting one of your hens to hatch the eggs... What breeds are they? Some breeds of chickens just won't hatch eggs, while others will try to hatch anything - golf balls included. Have any of your hens sat on the eggs before, or did you take them away before they could? I think getting day old chicks would be best, because you don't have to worry about any of your chicks turning out to be roosters. If you get chicks online you can ask for females, or get Sex Links. With the Sex Links you can tell if they are boys or girls by the color of their "fluff". I have a Red Sex Link, and she is very nice and friendly. Best results for the chicks to grow up friendly is to hold them a lot, or even put them in a big loose pocket while you do chores around the house.
     
  3. feathers4fun

    feathers4fun Chillin' With My Peeps

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    [​IMG] I'd go with day-old chicks too. It's much easier if a broody hen will raise them but they won't be as friendly. Buff Orpingtons are a breed that seem very inclined to be friendly, especially to the ones feeding them. [​IMG]
     
  4. howfunkyisurchicken

    howfunkyisurchicken Overrun With Chickens

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    I also agree on the day old chicks, but wanted to add that you may want to consider bantams. Since they are smaller, they'll be much easier for you children to handle. Some bantam breeds that are known to have good personalities include: cochins, silkies and orpingtons. Good luck!
     
  5. Arielle

    Arielle Chicken Obsessed

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    I have 2 boys at 8 and 9 yrs old and can handle most of my birds pretty well. THe hatchery chickens are much smaller than the heritage lines, though not quite as small as the bantams. THe boys play with the chickens a lot and have favorites to pick up and tote around. I have 10 different breeds, all dual purpose types. Their favorite rooster is a kind and gentle black sexlink; we are all attacked by the other black sexlink rooster. THe other 2 favs are an easter egger hen they handled since a chick, and Midnight, a EE/ black sexlink hen. THese are exceptions.

    All the Buff orpingtons are sweet and easy and don't mind being picked up. Many others will stop by to visit but don't liked to be touched. The BO often sit and visit.

    My boys had to learn how to handle chickens. With much adult supervision and a year of experience, they now handle the birds with care and confidence. With younger children, I would suggest buying pullet chicks as hatching results in 55-60 % boys. Beware of RIR, they are tough girls and will peck me every time I reach under for an egg. I personally value their spunk as it may save her from a coyote one day; just not child friendly. [​IMG] GL
     
  6. NancyinVa

    NancyinVa New Egg

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    Thanks for the great responses, everyone. It sounds like day-old chicks, including some Buff Orpingtons, is the way to go. Again, thanks much!

    Nancy
     
  7. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    I know this thread is probably done, but I just saw it and wanted to toss in my thoughts.

    In my experience, if it's very friendly, easy-to-handle chickens you want, you need to hand raise them. The most important thing about the brooder in order to achieve this is to have it set up like a kid's doll house. Take a box or tub and put it up on a table. Cut a door into the side, and do all your handling of the chicks from this side access.

    Baby chicks have an instinctual fear of being approached from up above. Doing it from the side permits them to see who is attached to the hands reaching for them. This is ideal for small children, or adults with back problems. I usually pull a chair up to the table with the brooder on it and play with my chicks for long periods. I slide my hand into the brooder up to the chick's toes and it will instinctively climb aboard. After a bit, the chicks will climb onto your hand as soon as you stick it in the brooder. They become friendlier as time passes. This is in direct contrast to top-brooder raised chicks who generally become more afraid of being handled as time passes.

    As adults these chickens will be extremely tame, and they'll let you pick them up without running away from you. Top-brooder raised chicks will be skittish and usually won't be nearly as tame as side-brooder raised chicks when they reach adulthood.

    I go crazy designing my brooders, cutting windows into them, and even joining two or three boxes together with pass-through's cut into adjoining walls for large broods. I add perches and 2 x 4 blocks of wood for playground equipment, and toss in a little "hot tub" of sand for a dirt bath. I can't imagine anything more fun for kids than playing with chicks in such a brooder.
     
  8. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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  9. ChicksWereDinos

    ChicksWereDinos Out Of The Brooder

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    Wanted to add, I have a couple Rhode Island Reds and neither pecks, one is the "sweet-heart" of my girls. They don't have a reputation as being aggressive peckers (you can search this). I want some Buff Orpingtons too.

     
  10. Scooter&Suzie

    Scooter&Suzie Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Yes, I have a Rhode Island Red, she is a bit skitish, but she is really a dear, I just never held her enough. I had Rhode Island rooster for a short time. He was friendly and didn't mind being petted. I suppose this was a rare case for a Rhode Island rooster, though. I had to get rid of him because of the crowing, not because he was aggresive. I've been spending more time with my hen, and she is getting friendlier and friendlier.
     

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