Chicken Affection?

humblehillsfarm

Crowing
Mar 27, 2020
2,019
3,523
301
Southwestern Pennsylvania
I'm super jealous over here! I have no clue why but my hens don't like to be picked up or cuddled. We can pick them up but they are not huge fans. I do have a black australorp who is starting to sit for a few minutes and close her eyes when I pet her but still no longer than 5 min TOPS. They run up to me, talk non stop and follow me everywhere. But just don't like physical affection:hitWill that ever change??
I think their personalities do change. My buff Brahma was four before I could pick her up and love on her. I’ve had a total of 21 chickens so far in my chicken keeping life and she’s the only one who seems to want and like snuggles. I think it all depends on the chicken!
 

cherylwillard1

Songster
Feb 20, 2014
43
72
114
I'm super jealous over here! I have no clue why but my hens don't like to be picked up or cuddled. We can pick them up but they are not huge fans. I do have a black australorp who is starting to sit for a few minutes and close her eyes when I pet her but still no longer than 5 min TOPS. They run up to me, talk non stop and follow me everywhere. But just don't like physical affection:hitWill that ever change??
I think a lot has to do with the breed. I had Wyandottes that HATED being held, but they'd settle down if I was able to get them on my arm. If I tried to pet them, though, they'd hop off. You gotta respect your chicken's flight response - it keeps them alive around predators. Remember, hawks and foxes "hold" chickens, too, before killing them. Hand reared vs free range growing up makes a big difference, too, but I find breed to be a more accurate indicator. And sometimes, it is just the chicken's personality.
 

ladybrasa

Songster
Jun 13, 2020
425
657
131
I’ve noticed the chickens are much more receptive to touch (or at least not freak out) if you cone up from below and pet bellies and crops, rather than from above on their backs.

Also, haven’t had broody hens before - do mommas preen their chicks?

Also, aren’t parrots way less pecking order motivated? I think their social structures are much different. I think in the wild parrots will come to the aid of a flock mate in distress? Chickens ... yeah, no. At least not that I’ve seen.
 

bcorps

Chirping
Jul 13, 2020
78
172
86
SW Indiana
I’ve noticed the chickens are much more receptive to touch (or at least not freak out) if you cone up from below and pet bellies and crops, rather than from above on their backs.

Also, haven’t had broody hens before - do mommas preen their chicks?

Also, aren’t parrots way less pecking order motivated? I think their social structures are much different. I think in the wild parrots will come to the aid of a flock mate in distress? Chickens ... yeah, no. At least not that I’ve seen.
Parrots definitely have a pecking order...though it can sometimes turn into more of a "biting order" if someone wants to ignore warnings. The thing is, parrots pair bond, and are monogamous, so that changes the dynamic a lot.
 

Rlindsey

Chirping
Sep 29, 2020
73
257
96
Clyde Texas
I'm super jealous over here! I have no clue why but my hens don't like to be picked up or cuddled. We can pick them up but they are not huge fans. I do have a black australorp who is starting to sit for a few minutes and close her eyes when I pet her but still no longer than 5 min TOPS. They run up to me, talk non stop and follow me everywhere. But just don't like physical affection:hitWill that ever change??
I have 2 Rhode Island’s who come to me and talk and follow but won’t let me pick them up or hold them. I have an Easter Egger and that’s all she wants to do. Until recently when I left home for a week and now she’s mad at me
 

humblehillsfarm

Crowing
Mar 27, 2020
2,019
3,523
301
Southwestern Pennsylvania
I’ve noticed the chickens are much more receptive to touch (or at least not freak out) if you cone up from below and pet bellies and crops, rather than from above on their backs.
This is very true! I always approach my friendlier chickens from below. Coming from above scream's predator and they will run away. I squat down, lure them close with treats, then gently reach out and pick them up by putting one hand on each side of their legs/thighs, and it's go-time from there! My brahma will snuggle right down into my lap.
 

ChocolateMouse

Free Ranging
Premium Feather Member
Jul 29, 2013
4,565
13,095
597
Cleveland OH
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My chickens don't preen each other but the often have cuddle puddles. They make friends and stick extra close to them. Where one friend goes the other follows and they chatter constantly and share food with pals and back them up in fights. They form cliques and when one of them moves the rest start to move also. They're definitely affectionate, just not in the way parrots are.
 

Sally PB

Songster
Premium Feather Member
Aug 7, 2020
1,047
2,234
193
Belding, MI
And I do have a couple that will jump in my lap for treats but as soon as I try to pet them they jump down. I keep holding out hope that it will change eventually.
Same thing here. All will take food from my hand, but only one will let me - very briefly - touch her wing. I reach in from on the side and down low. Today she came into the coop while I was scooping poop (no treats), and I petted her wing two or three times.

I'm hoping when it's really cold, they discover momma has a warm lap.
 

ILoveDaffy

Songster
Aug 16, 2020
524
1,580
143
Of course chickens give each other affection! I have two that are inseparable! They call out to each other if they more than 3 feet apart!
 

K0k0shka

Crowing
Premium Feather Member
Jul 24, 2019
1,946
4,757
317
Boston Area, MA
My Coop
Chickens have a reflex to freeze and remain very still, sometimes even closing their eyes, if somebody touches their face. It's a protective reflex for when they help clean each other up around the beak and face, where they can't reach on their own. If you've ever given them something mushy or sticky to eat, like oatmeal, which coats their beak, you may have noticed that they don't like their beak dirty. They'll either wipe it on something, or another chicken will step in and peck the food off their beak. Pecking near the face can be dangerous if they move - they may get their eye pecked out by accident - so they freeze and wait for the helping chicken to finish cleaning them up. They may even close their eyes to protect them from accidental pecking. This reflex can get triggered when you touch any part of their face. So it may look like you're scratching their chin and they close their eyes in enjoyment, or appear to fall asleep, but what they're actually doing is making sure you don't "peck" their eyes out while "cleaning" them. It's nice to think of it as affection, but it's not really. Not to say that they don't enjoy human attention - some of them certainly do - but this particular thing is different.

I used to have a cockerel that we nicknamed "the cleaner". He was especially determined to clean all of his friends' beaks while they were eating. He spent more time picking up globs from their beaks than actually eating himself. It was adorable.

My kids learned the face-cleaning freeze maneuver quickly and now use it to calm a skittish chicken down if they want to pet it or hold it. The chickens can't help it but close their eyes and wait.
 

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