Can chickens be friends?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by ChickenChaser9, Feb 20, 2016.

  1. ChickenChaser9

    ChickenChaser9 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hello BackYardChicken enthusiasts!
    I would like to talk about chickens. Specificaly wheither or not you can teach your flock to be docile when handled and if chickens can come to enjoy contact with humans. I have heard many anecdotes and read many articles about this and would like to share with ya'll my experiances and hope to hear from folks round here regarding you're own experiances. We started off like so many others raising Red Sex-Links. Here they are pictured at 2 weeks old when we got them from a local guy who gets them from Murray McMurray.
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    We knew next to nothing about chickens and it is obvious to us in hindsight. Those three have since grown up. I lost the best one to big dog back in October. The other two have minor physical defects that either make laying or seeing a challenge for them. They do alright but with just the two of them now in the Yard but they could really use some support. Here they are resting after breakfast. They know we are the providers of everything nice in the world. Thier Food, Freedom and Friendship. However Britta HATES to be held. She WILL flail and kick and fuss the entire time. She does not even care for you to get too close to her. I am sure this is related to her vision issues. She hates having to jump up or down as well as I think she has depth perception trouble. Adventure Chicken on the other hand will sometimes get herself into trouble by getting TOO close to humans at work. She is fearless and curious, tolerates being handled for a good reason but does not especially care for being touched. We handled them moderately during thier chick phase but all of them were flighty as pullets and we could not easily catch them until they hit puberty and started 'curtsying' for us. Here they are resting after breakfast 2 weeks ago.
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    So as easy as they are to manage and as 'friendly' as they are for they come running every time they see us, they would hate to be treated like pets and don't like touching. "Free Range Chickens will not be constrained by monkey paws" is the attitude I get from them.
     
    Just over 2 weeks ago our new birds arrived. 26 Black Jersey Giants and 1 Black Cochin also from MMM hatchery. We have a much larger space this go round obviously to accomadate so many extra birds. This has allowed us to spend a few hours every day sharing thier living space with them. Now hygene is crucial so when I enter the room where their brooder is I change into clothes that I leave in that room. Outside material like dust particals or animal feces stuck to your shoes can decimate a flock if it is harboring infected matter. That being said I wash my hands and feet then go barefoot. We sit on the floor with them for a minute or two and they come over to us. No need to tempt them with treats in our case. They are curious and love to explore. Some prefer to lay next to your leg and nap in the radiant warmth, others want to hop right up into your lap and survey their brethren from a higher vantage. If you are calm and speak softly to them they are quite docile and once they settle into a roosting posture they will allow us to gently pet and carress them. Just today I had a cochin roosting on my thumb, a Jersey Giant on my big toe and three balanced on one knee. They will fly up to my wife's shoulder to check out her earrings and nestle against her neck, one in particular will chase away her brethren to secure her spot against said neck. Here is an example of what I mean. We only pick them up to check them for problems and health issues, the rest of the time they initiate contact with us.
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    Even though they are still young, I believe that with our interactions we can continue to build trust and affection between our wards and foster good will between chicken and man. What say you all?
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  2. nchls school

    nchls school Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 22, 2015
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    Most of my birds, young and old, come to me, not only for food, but to be held. The hen in the picture with the chicks brings her newly hatched chicks right to my feet. The black and red rooster will sit in my lap for hours. One hen flies to my shoulder. Yes, chickens can be pets that like human interaction.
     
    1 person likes this.
  3. cafarmgirl

    cafarmgirl Overrun With Chickens

    I have had several hens that really did like to be picked up and held, they just seemed to enjoy the attention. Others in the same flock, raised the same way, really did not enjoy it at all once they matured. So it seems to be individual thing with them, some enjoy it, some just don't and that's fine to.
     
  4. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Same here...funny tho, the 2 I have that like to be picked up and pet as adults, hated to be handled as chicks.

    I think with lots of consistent hands on attention they can become accustomed to enjoy it, but I don't have the time or inclination.
     
  5. ChickenChaser9

    ChickenChaser9 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    It amuses me that your avatar is a fella handling 3 chickens at once. ^_^ Consistency is very important both for livestock and humans!
     
  6. nchls school

    nchls school Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I find this to be true of all of my chickens-as they mature they are more comfortable with handling-and then getting very tame as maturity arrives.
     
  7. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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  8. RumAndCoconuts

    RumAndCoconuts Chillin' With My Peeps

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    So many people don't really believe that the chickens like the affection and this can't be further from the truth.
    [​IMG] I cut down 30 minutes of time to 6.
    I love my birds and spend a lot of time with them which is apparent here as you can see them jostling for position in my lap.
    So...this CAN happen. And several of my best cuddlers are either broody or were laying an egg when I filmed this.
    Enjoy!
     
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