You can play with them. The biggest issue is that they will get chilled. So if you pick them up and hold them warm, they should be fine. Just keep sessions sort and let them have time to eat and drink and stay warm. Enjoy them while they are tiny!
Great question. I have read some stuff on it but still unsure. My 5 year old WILL NOT LEAVE THEM ALONE. Its all she wants to do. And even though she knows she needs to be gentle sometimes she just doesnt get it.
She is probably handeling them 8 times a day or so. After 4 days they still scream and run as soon as a hand enters brooder. But once you are holding them outside of brooder they settle down fine. A brown leghorn even fell asleep in my hand last night.
I assume once we start giving them treats they will learn to really like us!
I learned that lesson about picking them up from above the hard way. They pecked the heck outta me. Just keep you palm flat and let them get used to you. I ususally take some starter in the morning and put it in my hand to feed them. Maybe thats why mine are tame?
This might sound a little crazy, but I get mine out and let them run around on the kitchen floor. I arm myself with a paper towel for the poopies and let them play. I sit on the floor and they will jump on me and use me to play "queen of the hill". Two of them are already running to the brooder door to get out whenever I go close to it! They are a week old to a week and a half.
My 4 year old wants to handle them several times a day as well. I am trying to rotate which one she gets so that none are getting held more than once. I don't want to discourage her because they will be her pets as well as mine and I want her to know how to properly handle them. We do have some ground rules though-
* Only Mom gets them out of the brooder and puts them back in.
* She must stay seated while holding a chick.
* Wash hands the minute you are done touching the chicks.
She is a very animal savy kid and once I showed her how to hold them she has done great. Typically they are in her hands less than 2 minutes. After all she is 4 and she just can't sit still all that long.
I am also encouraging her to reach in the brooder and just pet them and talk to them sometimes instead of always holding one. That way they are getting used to our hands just being in there and know we aren't out to get them.