bonding with the chickies....

AndreaS

Songster
11 Years
Mar 5, 2010
485
4
173
Hurdle Mills, NC
Hey guys!

Now that all the little ones seem to be doing well, I was wondering about bonding with them. I really want them to be a tame flock, which is why I tried to get docile breeds. How much time is appropriate to spend handling them? I have read that over handling a weak chick can be the death of it, but the little one who we thought wasn't going to make it we had to handle a lot to give food and water and to wipe her butt.....she is doing great now and lays in my hand to sleep when I have my hand in the brooder. The others are still a little scared of me. I have been trying to get them used to my hand in the brooder but would like to be able to get them used to being held......seems like it would come in handy when they are adults and need extra care if they are comfortable with being held. Any ideas? Will tucking one in my shirt for awhile till they feel safe help?

Also, do any of you give them any sort of objects to play with? We have a stuffed animal for them to snuggle, but I was wondering if there are any approved chickie "toys" that might be fun for them.

Thanks!
Andrea
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HorseFeathers

Frazzled
11 Years
Apr 2, 2008
4,719
43
241
Southern Maine
Holding them is the best thing you can do. They're pretty easy to catch — once you catch them most will calm right down, often falling asleep in your hand (like the little one you mentioned). And when they're old enough, give them lots of treats and make sure they know you are the bringer of the treats... you'll have your own little chickie fan club once they discover that.
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ETA: try coming up with a call for them. Once they're outside, when you want them to come back into their run shake a can or cup full of scratch while calling (ours are all hens, so we have a two-tone "Giiii-iirls!" which makes them come running). This will be a great training tool, and after a while they'll come to the call without the scratch.
 
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chauqg

Songster
10 Years
Jun 13, 2009
131
2
101
Andrea, We spent a lot of bonding time when the chicks first arrived and thereafter (holding, wiping butts, feeding by hand, keeping warm in pockets etc), seems to me that the real bonding from them did not happen until they were more mature and began laying.

City Chicks book recommends raising your hand/arm above the birds and slowly lowering it to their backs; then rubbing them gently. The hens will crouch down until you move them or stop petting; after they will give a nice little full body shake and walk away. This would not happen if they were not sexually mature. That handling above all seems to help and it is an excellent way to keep them from running away. Simply raising your hand above many of our birds will stop in their tracks. They are much more calm and friendly as maturity seem to awaken their little brains.

Also as stated the way to the chicken's heart is through their stomach. Treats and gentile handling works wonders, but I believe from my experience with RIR's that the individual bird's maturity plays an important role in the bonding process. BTW what kind of birds do you have?
 

HorseFeathers

Frazzled
11 Years
Apr 2, 2008
4,719
43
241
Southern Maine
Quote:
Sorry, I must object. We have had three different batches of chickens: One we bonded with when they were young, the next when they were more mature, and the last was raised by a broody, so we bonded very late.
The first batch is by FAR the calmest, sweetest, and most friendly. The other two are more skittish.
Just my 2¢.
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