calming down skittish chicks?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by afj6710, Jan 14, 2012.

  1. afj6710

    afj6710 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 2, 2011
    We just got 6 chicks that around 4 weeks old. Man, are they ever afraid of us! When I pick one up it completely freaks out and struggles to get away from me. They just do not settle down. Is it too late to get them used to being picked up by humans? Any advice on convincing them that I'm their friend (other than treats - I would really rather wait until they are little older for treats)?

    Our first chicks were around 4/5 weeks old when we got them and they had been total free range chickens and they didn't freak out nearly this badly. They would run and try to get away but once you had them for a minute, they would calm down (and usually go to sleep). [​IMG]
  2. Silkie Chick

    Silkie Chick Chillin' With My Peeps

    We have got chickens that were a year old and hardly had been handled... They never really warmed up to us but they are not scared of us either.
    You could use treats such as yogurt or cut up raisins, and other small pieces of dried fruit, but the most important thing is to keep handling them even if they squirm. Remember, if all else fails, treats do the trick!
  3. Barred Rocker

    Barred Rocker cracked egg

    Jul 15, 2009
    King and Queen Co, Va
    They love bread. Also just lay your hand in front of them and let them investigate. If they get used to it they should be a little calmer when you handle them. But in my experience no matter how tame you make them they never really like being picked up and handled, probably makes them think they're being taken by a hawk or something.
  4. azygous

    azygous True BYC Addict

    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    With baby chicks, you need to overcome their innate fear of anything coming at them from up above. Make sure you approach them very slowly from the side, by opening your palm and laying the back of your hand on the floor of the brooder. Gradually move your hand to the toes of the chick you want to pick up.

    After a short time, they will begin to trust your hand and will climb aboard. Soon they will be climbing up your arm and onto your head. Let them proceed at their own pace. But the big secret is approach from the side, not from above them. It helps to have a brooder with a side access placed on a table or stand, rather than a box or tub on the floor.
  5. BrettMO

    BrettMO Out Of The Brooder

    Aug 7, 2010
    Nevada, MO
    I wait till mine are a few months old before i really start holding them that way roos are not people agressive and i find that after just being around us for that long their just calmer i have good luck taming adult hens too i prefer getting adults i find them easyer to tame but thats just what works for me. Also breed can affect temperment too.
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2012
  6. quintinp

    quintinp Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 22, 2010
    Southern Oklahoma
    Food always works, and I think I can safely say that pretty much all animals love white bread. I sometimes get about 4 slices, and cube it. I let the chickens free range, and it is so funny seeing the chickens running around the yard after me when I have a bowl of bread cubes. If they are only 4 weeks old, you don't have much to worry about.
  7. ChickensAreSweet

    ChickensAreSweet Heavenly Grains for Hens

    Our chicks are always skittish and nervous. Our chickens really start to be good pets around the point of lay, when they start squatting for us. They are easy for the kids to catch and hold then.

    We really just don't try to hold chicks all the time. Sure we hold them some, but they never really get tame until older for our family.
  8. afj6710

    afj6710 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 2, 2011
    I think the only reason that I'm worried about it is that our older chickens never got tamer. The only way that I'm able to catch them at all is to wait until night, when they are on their roost. It's kind of problematic if one of them is sick, injured, or I just need to check over them, you know? I was kind of hoping that I could tame these chicks a little so that they wouldn't be so skittish when they are older.
  9. ChickensAreSweet

    ChickensAreSweet Heavenly Grains for Hens

    Aha! You need food treats to train them IMO. When you have leftovers that you want to get rid of...slightly stale bread or spaghetti for example- just sit in a chair and drop the treats in front of you. Then you can start holding them and hand feeding if you want, but we don't.

    The reason that we don't move to the hand feeding - (we feed treats on the ground or in a pan) is because they started pecking at my kids' hands even when they were empty. Ouch!

    It doesn't hurt to just keep holding them every day gently for a bit then...but I cannot advise if this will work. We have found that certain breeds just became tamer than others with minimal effort on our part at POL (point of lay).
  10. Silkiesandco

    Silkiesandco Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 17, 2011
    Canada eh?
    Food. The way to win a chickens heart is to feed them. Never chase them or they will keep viewing you as a predator. Talk in a soft low voice, keep them away from your mouth and keep them warm and close. Thats how mine got tamed, hope it works for your little ones too :)
    1 person likes this.

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