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Chicken Socialization

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by urban orpington, Aug 14, 2013.

  1. urban orpington

    urban orpington Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 10, 2013
    Murfreesboro, TN
    I think this is a good place to ask this question.


    My wife and I have a Buff Orpinton of unknown age that is super social. When she came to us she had obviously been around humans a lot and wasn't scared of us at all. For example, a couple of weeks ago she hopped right into my Father-in-Law's lap.

    On Saturday we bought her two little friends--a Black Sex-link and a Cochin Bantam. Both are about 16 weeks old. They've had very little human interactions and we seem to scare the crap out of them.

    They spend most of their time hiding under our coop out of arm's reach. My wife was able to snatch the Cochin Bantam yesterday and calm her down a little but she didn't seem to enjoy the interaction at all.


    My question is: How do we train the new girls to get used to us being around? It would be cool if we could train them to be as friendly as our Buff, but I would settle for just "not scared of humans".
     
  2. rojororeo

    rojororeo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 14, 2013
    I am not an expert at all... but here is what I have learned watching my chickens. All of my original 9 were not very handled when I got them as 3ish month olds. They ran and flipped out screeching, trying to flap/climb up the chicken yard fencing to get away. To the point of I swear they would injure themselves! Our rooster even ran away! (amazingly we found and caught him the next day)
    Now, several months later, I go in and they all swarm my feet, begging for treats. As they swarm, I am able to pet most all of them a little bit- even the Polish crested rooster.
    I think the key is to move rather slowly when you are in the pen or coop with them. Make movements like you plan to pick them up, but don't- that way they can gain trust that your movements to them don't always mean the dreaded pick up.
    Give them treats out of your hands, or near your feet- good stuff- moistened cat food, meal worms, fruit chunks... and just stand or squat with them while they munch.
    When I put them to bed at night- closing up the coop door and doing my headcount, I try to reach out and lightly pet whomever is in reach. They first would balk and jump away, causing all birds to fall off roosts. Now whomever I get just sits and lets me pet them most times- and even seems to enjoy it, with the eye closing, head loll.
    I still have to chase and corner them, if I need to handle someone. But the chase is much less time, and they freak out much less once gotten. And no one tries to climb the fencing in a panic anymore.
    I think with time, all my birds will eventually realize we are not out to kill them.
    Not sure if that helped much, but as a newbie to chickens, that is what I learned. I didn't really realize how quickly it would work! One of my fav things is when I walk out the house, all the chickens come running to the gate of their yard... waiting and begging for food.
    Good luck!!
     
    1 person likes this.
  3. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Chicken Obsessed

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    CENTRAL MAINE
    I agree with PP. Also, if they are truly that skittish, you might try offering the treats from outside the fence at first. Also, when you go into the run, you might want to focus your attention on the BO, giving her all the attention and all of the treats at first. Birds learn by example, and just like any kid watching his sibling getting all of the praise attention and treats, will get jealous and want to get a fair share.
     
  4. rojororeo

    rojororeo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I bet this is how my birds figured it out! I had one Speckled Sussex who has always been more friendly and curious than the rest. So I naturally paid more attention to her, so as to not get my eyes pecked out, lol. The others have followed suit! :)
     
  5. urban orpington

    urban orpington Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 10, 2013
    Murfreesboro, TN
    That's what I figured. It just takes time.


    My wife and I have just enjoyed how personable our first hen is, so I was hoping we could replicate the same result.

    They're just so skittish! They wont let us give them treats. We have to set them down within their reach and then walk away before eat them.


    Thanks for the advice!
     
  6. rojororeo

    rojororeo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 14, 2013
    Mine were the same way at first too! I couldn't get them anywhere near me, even with food! Now I really have to pay attention, so I don't step on anyone as they all crowd around my feet.
     

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