Can I 'tame' my feral hens?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by fishdaughter, Apr 18, 2017.

  1. fishdaughter

    fishdaughter Just Hatched

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    Hi all, I inherited a hen and cockerel from the previous tenant here. I don't think they were well looked after by their previous owners and the hen hut was in a disgusting state of never being cleaned out and I found, whilst cleaning it out, the remains of a dead hen buried under layers of poo. The cockerel was actually donated by my landlady and is reasonably used to humans, but the hen runs off. She had two chicks last year and I left her to her own devices as she couldn't go far as her wings had been clipped - however she has reared them to be totally feral and wild and will fly off at the meer sight of a human approaching, but they did all still roost in the hen hut and lay eggs in there. The eldest of the two chicks, now an adult, has a little brood of her own 4 chicks now and once she left the hen hut with them, decided not to take them back to roost and tried to roost in the paddock. We managed to round her and the chicks up and carry them back to the hen hut after dark, as they would have been a tasty snack if left out all night. I recently built an enclosure round the hen hut with the intention of feeding them in there rather than ending up feeding the pheasants and jackdaws after the hens dash off at my approach. But I've decided to keep them all in there permanently to try and get them used to humans. Is it too late to do this now? One hen has managed to escape under the hen hut (now blocked off) and there is no chance of catching her now. So I have a cockerel, the original hen and mother hen with her 4 chicks. Should I take her chicks off her and hand rear them to ensure they grow up tame and give up with the adult hens? Should I just ensure I try and catch them and handle them daily (potentially very stressful for all concerned) I've never had such wild hens before as I've always had rescued ex-battery hens that are used to humans. Not sure quite how to approach this dilemma...I don't want to be cruel to them by keeping them in an enclosure, but it's going to get to the point where they all just bugger off into the woods and never come back!!
     
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2017
  2. fishdaughter

    fishdaughter Just Hatched

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    *I don't mean permanently, I mean to keep them enclosed for a period of time until they seem more used to humans....then let them out gradually for longer each week.
     
  3. Flock Master64

    Flock Master64 Overrun With Chickens

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    How big is the enclosure. Do you know what breeds you have? Some breeds are very calm and gentle while others can be very flighty. I'm sure if you hang around long enough they will become more comfortable around you. You could sit inside or next to the enclosure for 10-15 minutes a day and maybe throw some bread crumbs in there for them. Food is a great way to tame all kinds of animals. It just takes time.
     
  4. fishdaughter

    fishdaughter Just Hatched

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    Thank-you your reply Flockmaster64. It's not as big as I would have made it if I'd intended to keep them in there permanently for a period of time. It was originally to feed them in away from the blasted pheasants and jackdaws. It's too small, but within a few days I could make it a bit larger. So just sitting by them feeding for 15 mins a day should work over time? Is it worth spending time handling the chicks while they're still tiny then giving them back to mum...otherwise I fear they're going to be taught to be even more feral than their mum.
     
  5. fishdaughter

    fishdaughter Just Hatched

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    Flock Master64 the original hen is a black silkie, the cockerel is a copper maran, so the new mother is a (very pretty) mixed the two. Don't know about the chicks as all 3 hens were laying in the same nest under the one hen!!
     
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2017
  6. Flock Master64

    Flock Master64 Overrun With Chickens

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    Ok.
    Yeah, just spend time around them. Be calm and gentle. You don't want to chase them around and make loud noises things like that. That will make them trust you less. When ever you go out to them bring some food. Bread or seeds or something. And when you give it to them you can snap or whistle. Then eventually they'll realize that you snapping or whistling means food and they'll go and find you. So instead of chasing them around the yard you can stand next to the coop and call them over. Works much better then chasing them around.
     
  7. HeavensHens88

    HeavensHens88 Overrun With Chickens

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    Jake's ideas are everything I would've suggested. Above all, be patient. Don't be tempted to advance in your taming too quickly or all trust built up between you and your birds will be lost. ;) Food is the one way to any animal's heart. Spend as much time as possible around them; even sitting a few yards away silently is a start. It's always a good idea to "loose" your voice while around your chickens.
    Keep us updated on the taming!
    ~Sarah
     
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2017

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