Can chickens get nicer?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by tsuya, Sep 5, 2014.

  1. tsuya

    tsuya Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 5, 2013
    Snohomish in the PNW
    I have six chickens who come running up to the fence whenever I come out to see them, but when I get into their run the run away from me. Is there a way to get them to come up to me so I can touch them/pick them up without playing the 'catch me' game? I had a buff last year I could just pick up whenever.
     
  2. MeepBeep

    MeepBeep Chillin' With My Peeps

    Maybe, it's a whole lot easier if you start handling them at an early age, almost painless in fact...

    But, if they are older you will have to likely really work it and there is no guarantees... What you need to do if find a treat that they absolutely love, take the treat into the coop with you and give it to them in a bowl right in front of you... As they approach slowly start touching and petting them while they are distracted with the food.. Keep doing this and eventually they should not be so skittish when you are in the coop...

    All my chickens will let me touch and pick them up all day long, no chasing needed... But, something that seems to help with my Guineas especially is to go and pet them once it's dark and they are roosting for the night, since they are pretty much blind in low light they wont' run and it gives you an opportunity to get them used to being touched... Not, that I'm going to say they get anywhere near as tame as my chickens but at least they don't keep their distance as much as they used to...
     
  3. tsuya

    tsuya Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 5, 2013
    Snohomish in the PNW
    They are about six months old and even when they were chicks they would run when being held. Maybe I was doing something wrong? I'll try the bowl of treats method, thanks. :)
     
  4. rfreedlund

    rfreedlund Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 7, 2014
    Byron, Illinois
    I have 48 so taming all of them is never an option, though they don't run away from my either unless I try to pick them up or move suddenly. I do like to turn over the 5-gallon bucket I use to take them water and sit on it. Not all of them will do it, but some will hop up on my knee and even let me stroke them from time to time. Some are more likely to do that. Also, without a mature rooster right now to service my young girls, some will go submissive on me and let me pick them up then. Just spend time with them and don't move a lot. They will get more comfortable.
     
  5. MeepBeep

    MeepBeep Chillin' With My Peeps


    As of today (less unhatched eggs and the order of pullets coming in later this month) I have a flock of 38 adult chickens and all of them will let me pet them, touch and pick them up without much hassle... Can't say the same for the dozens of Guineas and Peas though, they just like their personal space more...

    So it can be done with a larger flock, it just take time...
     
  6. rfreedlund

    rfreedlund Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 7, 2014
    Byron, Illinois
    What breeds are yours? My Barred Rocks and Australorps are more likely to let me touch them, while my Leghorns come right up to me, but don't like being reached for.
     
  7. MeepBeep

    MeepBeep Chillin' With My Peeps


    Easter Eggers, Partridge Rocks, Black Australorps, Buff Orpingtons, Golden Laced Wyandottes and several barnyard mixed...
     
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2014
  8. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    It's most probably your approach. When chickens are first hatched, their instinct to fear anything approaching from above them is as intense as their need for food and water. The more you reach for them from up above, like a hawk diving down to pick them off, the more afraid they become of your hands.

    This carries over to adulthood, and only consistent training can overcome this fear of your hands reaching for them. It helps to get down on their level, not easy for some of us in our last decades, but trying to pick them up by reaching down for them is futile.

    It's possible for personalities to change over time, though, too. I have an SLW hen, five years old, who was among the first chicks I raised in a brooder on the floor. These chicks ran from my hands every time I tried to pick them up, and this hen has managed to mostly overcome her fear. She adores being cuddled, but she needs to be "caught". She comes barely within reach and waits until I slowly reach over and touch her lightly, then I slowly "walk" her toward me with my finger tips. It's so funny how coy she is while being so transparently a whore for cuddles.

    After that batch, I began raising my chicks in a brooder elevated to waist level so I could handle them from the side. All of these chicks were tame from the beginning and remained so into adulthood. But even the most tame of them remain resistant to being picked up by reaching down for them. I need to get down on the ground to pick them up easily.
     

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