Chicken personalities - how to tame them?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by N. Virginia, Nov 18, 2010.

  1. N. Virginia

    N. Virginia Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 15, 2010
    I have 11 birds, 11 weeks old. My question is: how to tame the shy ones? The brave ones come right up now & let themselves be handled, but the others won't let me touch them and won't come to food.

    Here they are, in order of friendliness:
    1) Butter Cup - buff orpington - aggressive, top chicken, friendly, fun, pecks the others out of her way sometimes. If she pecks I catch her and hold her so that I can offer the others millet in a tin.
    2) Rooster - brown leghorn - Short Fry - friendly and bold, still v. small
    3) Barred Rock - Barbara - very nice and friendly (named before I knew there was a chicken star named Barbara on this bulletin board!)
    4) Rhode Island Red - Screech - screeches with a very high voice whenever touched or picked up, like a pig squeal, but is starting to come around & be friendlier. Will let me pick her up grudgingly, screeching. Sometimes pecks at me if I try to pick her up, sometimes doesn't
    5) and 6) The two Americaunas - as yet un-named - the most beautiful, after Butter Cup. Still shy. One will let me touch her if feeding millet
    7) Rooster's wife - brown leghorn - shy and skittish
    8) Silver Wyandott - Tammy - the shyest, along with Rooster's wife

    1) Big Guiney (regular grey color) - Gretta. The most friendly, which is not saying much. Will let me stroke her back if I feed her millet. Will come & eat out of the tin with Barbara, Butter Cup, and Small Fry.
    2) Lilac Guiney - Lilly - vocally unfriendly and complains bitterly about everything (help, murder!)...pecks at me if I try to pet her while she is roosting. Will be the best watch guiney. Won't come near, even for millet
    3) Lavender Guiney - quiet, shy, unfriendly, yet unamed. Very fast!

    They roost on a ladder in this order:
    First rung: Guineys + Rooster
    Second rung: Butter Cup, friendly Americauna, Barbara, Screech
    Third rung: Tammy, Shy Americauna, Rooster's wife

    So far, I try to tame them by offering treats while sitting on the ground. I also try to pet them while they are just going to sleep. Sometimes they wake up too much and jump around on top of eachother, Lilly pecks at me, and the rest of the shy ones just cower.

    I have these birds just for pets (and eggs when they get around to it), so I'd like it if I could catch each one. Hopeless for guineys, I guess, but maybe the chickens will come around.

    Any suggestions will be most welcome.

    N. VA
  2. SycolinWoodsChickens

    SycolinWoodsChickens Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 3, 2010
    Northern Virginia
    A couple of things I've figured out in the short time I've had chickens:

    1) They go through a phase where they want nothing at all to do with you. They run and scream and won't come near you. Some grow out of it around the time they begin to lay

    2) If you have a roo they may never hang around you much if the roo won't allow it. Our hens were avoiding us and if they hung around us too long the roo called them away. He's gone now and they think I'm the roo and are much friendlier!

    3) Some just don't like being handled at all. Some of my buffs and SS like being held and my SLW and BA's hate it. If I have to handle them I take them of the roost at ngiht.

    From my experience chickens aren't like dog who LOVE to be petted. Some tolerate it but for the most part they prefer not to be handled. I'm sure some folks here have chickens that love to be held but that hasn't been my experience so far. As far as taming them I just sit in their coop and offer them food in my hand - only about 1/2 my flock will even attempt to come up and eat out of my hand. That's fine with me I wasn't really planning on hand feeding 20 chickens!

    Oh, I remember one more thing. When they were 11 weeks old or so they hated to be touched from above. Even the buffs who were always sitting in my lap. They always preferred having their chests scratched. I think its a normal reaction for them to shy away from something approaching them from above like a predator would.

    From reading your post it seems to me like they are acting like normal chickens!
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2010
  3. TeamChaos

    TeamChaos Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 8, 2009
    I'm new to chickens, so keep that in mind but i've had 18 pullets (17 now) for over ten months and here's what i can offer:
    Even my friendliest chicken, Ethel a buff orp., prefers to just sit on my lap rather than be petted. None of my chickens are really into being petted, but they will sit close to me (or ON me) and tolerate me messing with their combs, feathers and feet. They like to be close to me when I'm working and quite a few of them will follow me anywhere i go on the farm.
    As far as our shy chickens, i've learned to not push them. I would sprinkle food around me when sitting on the ground and then act very disinterested whenever they got the nerve to come close, once that was established i got them used to me moving my hands to give them more snacks when they were close by, now those same shy girls will run up and wait close by for a snack and aren't scared when i talk to them or occasionally pick them up.
    I've always been reluctant to mess with my girls when they've gone to roost for fear that I'll scare them enough to hurt themselves in the low light..
  4. N. Virginia

    N. Virginia Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 15, 2010
    Thanks! I've noticed they don't like being swooped down on from above, and that they like lap sitting as long as it involves food.

    Now about the guineys - would they tolerate being carried around in a basket, one at a time? I was thinking a little emertion therapy might help tame them...or maybe it would just traumatize them?

  5. phaethona

    phaethona Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 13, 2010
    It seems to me that my chickens became easier to pick up when they start squatting and laying, half the time when they're approached they stop for us, BUT we don't have a roo and I'm pretty sure the squatting is part of a mating thing, so with a roo around, the hens may not do that.

    And I have several different breeds, and a couple that I have(like my brown leghorn) no matter what, will not all [​IMG] we have one named sketch because she's incredibly skiddish. we socialized her right along with the other girls, but it truly is a breed characteristic. I'm not suprised in the least that your nicest one is a BO, I want one sooo bad because of how friendly they can be. In my current bunch, the friendliest are definitely my production reds, sometimes they're overly nice and chase me down to follow me into the house [​IMG]
  6. Knock Kneed Hen

    Knock Kneed Hen California Dream'in Chickens

    Feb 15, 2010
    So. Cal.
    Keep in mind that just like everything else they have their own personalities. You may just have some more timid, flightier birds. I handled the majority of my birds from the get go every day. Half way through raising the chicks I decided to go pick up some more. I handled those ones less. Of all my chickens the one that like the most attention is from the second group. Also, they mellowed out after they started laying. I have some Leghorns that I have no hope of ever having tame. It's a rodeo catching them for inspection.

    I'd pick out a few birds like Barbara, Screech, and one other and spend your time with them allowing them to eat from your hand, sitting on you and just being close to you. Over time they will build up confidence and hopefully you'll be able to handle them without them running off screaming. I've done this and now have several girls that enjoy being at my feet and let me & the kids pet them.

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