Chick taming frustrations.......


In the Brooder
6 Years
Apr 6, 2013
I have 27 chicks, most of them hatched on the 5th of April, My 2 RIR's are about a week older. I have followed the advice of the "How to Socialize Baby Chickens" to the letter, and I am really disappointed as I am not able to pick any of them up without them flapping and protesting and stirring all of the others up. I have them in a large brooder-a metal horse trough-and I am very careful when I approach them to be non threatening, talk softly, and move slowly. I have been feeding them treats for a few days now. I do 2 sessions a day with the treats--mashed up boiled eggs in one session, and finely chopped greens in the other. I put the treats in the palm of my hand on the floor of the brooder and they will swarm all over me to get the treats and are very comfortable with me when I am feeding them. After doing this for a few days I decided to try to pick them up individually again (hadn't done that since the first few days). When I approach them to pick them up they scatter and when I do get one they are very unhappy to be held and just want to get away.

I think the large number of them that I have makes it harder for me to give them individual attention and once I try to pick one up they get upset and all of them rush to the end of the brooder and I hate to even continue trying to pick another one up as the panic has set in.

I love feeding them the treats as it is the only time I am really able to get close and observe them and I will of course continue that. If anyone has any other suggestions I would love to hear them and am willing to try anything. The brooder is in my heated tack room in the barn--I am wondering if I should try to take one of them out and maybe bring it in the house for some one on one. I don't really know. I only worry that it will just get worse as they get older and I will have hens that won't let me examine them and that will be terrified of me.

These are my first chickens and it has been a great experience. I just want to make it more fulfilling for them and for me. :(
I'm interested to see what others say because I seem to be having the same issues, but I have 15 chicks. I feed mine by hand also and they hop all over my hand and arm but get worked up if I try to hold one. I have my brooder inside the house, though, and I am at it all the time and it hasn't really gotten better. I wonder if maybe it just takes a little longer? I will be watching to see what anyone else says.
if you have a bunch of chicks they will not ALL be friendly, but I notice a few will be. that is okay. I like to give my chicks egg too. makes them strong and friendly.
Just bumping this up to see if there are any thoughts, suggestions to help me or others in this situation. Any input appreciated!!
I would have to agree w/ gimmie birdies response. That many is hard to turn them all into "pet friendly" chickens. I would keep doing what your doing. I think you will be surprised once they get near laying age how their friendliness changes. Usually they mellow out quite a bit and tend to not be so flighty. Keep talking to them and giving them treats and you will be just fine.
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This will be my second experience with chicks. Mine all do the same things. I even have a few that fly up and attack my hand when I do butt checks. I haven't been doing the chicken thing very long, but I used to get many of my chickens from a guy that lived in the suburbs, every chicken I got from him was so tame and sweet. He had lots of them. Raised them from chicks. They all were tame and sweet. He had so many that I don't believe he was able to spend too much time with any in particular.

I think, as a dog trainer, with most animals that receive regular human contact that they will become tame. At the chick age, it is probably a instinctual thing to scatter from large animals. Once they start to feather, and go to the great outdoors, I would try and spend more time at this age with them. Although, they may protest, I would still and handle them. If you cannot tame the whole lot of them, employ some neighborhood kids to come and play, carefully with guidance and supervisor.
I have over the years, I have seen children tame many a beast. They are relentless in there efforts for the affection of the animals at hand.

(A word to the weary: the most tame chickens, in my experience, are the first to be taken out by predators, especially dogs and cats.)
I'm having similar issues with my six chicks. They'll be 3 weeks old tomorrow. They were much friendlier in the beginning but now are apprehensive when I put my hand in the brooder and take much longer to get the nerve to come and eat out of my hand. One will run up and bite my finger, I think she's trying to make me drop the food so she can get it off the floor. They don't want to be picked up under any circumstance, either.

I'm wondering if this is an "age appropriate" thing. Kinda' like babies that suddenly get fearful of people around 7 months of age, maybe the chicks have come to some point in their maturity that is telling them to "Beware" of tall people with food in their hands. I'll keep messing with them to see what happens and hope that it will improve.

On the other hand, my adult girls have become much friendlier as time has gone by. I got them last year as POL pullets so had no interaction with them when they were chicks. They will now eat out of my hand, follow me around like a dog, and will let me pet them.
I am new to chicks too, and have only 4; 2 RIR and 2 Silkies. I was told by 2 friends, both Urban Backyard Chicken keepers, to hold them each day and bring them to eye level so they can see your face. (Never too close to your face or mouth due to the germs, but face level)
I have noticed that when I do this and talk to them they dont struggle to get down, and one will even started to stand still in the brooder while I gently stroke her with my finger. One of the Silkies still hides from me, so I am going to start having some one one one time with her away feom the others.
Good luck and don't give up. Maybe they are like teenagers and will grow out of this stage!
Thanks so much everyone for your input :)! I guess I need to lower my expectations on how they are acting, and keep doing what I am doing. They are associating me with treats, and don't scatter as much when I change the waterers and feeders. I will also try the holding at eye level, and picking them up from underneath instead of from on top. Need to keep making myself seem less like a predator. I just love spending time with them! And it is good to know that their behavior may change when they get to egg laying stage

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