Chicken Temperment- instict or treatment

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by max13077, Feb 3, 2009.

  1. max13077

    max13077 Songster

    I was writing in another thread and it got me thinking. Are chickens like dogs? Let me explain. I have this little(figure of speech [​IMG] ) girl, she's my best friend:


    Her name is Jeenie and she's a 6 year old beagle mix. The vet said she's probably got either Rottweiler or German Shepard as the other half. Now my question has to do with raising them(both chickens and dogs) Jeenie's mom had nine puppies. I know a guy I used to work with that took one of the puppies too, her name is Sandy. However Sandy's temperament is much different than Jeenie's. Sandy is snappy, aggressive, and quite mean really. I hate to say that but it's true. That said, there couldn't be a more polar opposite when you compare her to Jeenie. Jeenie has got to be the kindest, friendliest, most gentle dog I've ever seen. She could be eating a t-bone steak; If you put your hand down by her, she'll look at you like "please don't take that, I was enjoying it." I really don't even believe the thought of biting someone has ever entered her brain.

    When I was raising Jeenie, I really tried to instill things like that in her. There was a lot of playing, praising, petting, and just overall good treatment. Jim, the guy who took Sandy really, well, didn't treat her bad, he just fed her, and rarely ever plays with her. As a result I feel she's not as nice. Of course every dog is different, but I really think there's something to the "get back what you put in" sort of treatment philosophy.

    Now is it the same way with chickens? I was talking about Fluffy, my now departed Dark Brahma hen. I was picking her up and taking her in the house etc since the first day we met. We'd hang out on the lawn with a cob of corn all the time. I'd shuck the kernels off and throw them to her, or make her eat them out of my hand. Eventually she got comfortable enough to hop on my lap and nestle down for a nap. It was cute.

    That said, a lot of the birds I see folks keeping, Brahmas included are afraid of people. They run or fly when you approach. Could it be a matter of treatment, or is it just differences in individual birds? I'm just interested in what people think.

  2. B. Saffles Farms

    B. Saffles Farms Mr. Yappy Chickenizer

    Nov 23, 2008
    Madisonville, TN
    I belive its a little of both, but leaning towards treatment. Alot of chickens thats are shy around people is because they havent been handled and fooled with. But I also have a couple of roos that love to attack, no matter how much I handle them. But others dont have to be handled much at all and they are very tame. This is just from my expeirience.
  3. crazyhen

    crazyhen Crowing

    Aug 26, 2008
    mtns of ,NC.
    Its like two brothers born to the same parents and them be total oposites of each other. It happens a lot in nature. You can quide their tendencies but can not remove the base thats there. Jean
  4. Teresaann24

    Teresaann24 Songster

    Jul 29, 2008
    Eastern, Kentucky
    I believe it has alot to do with treatment...?? I think so anyways.

    I have a hen who is older maybe 1 and a half I got from a friend. She never handled her just watered fed her. She is so grumpy and does not like human contact. Now on the other hand I have all my others I have raised from hatching- to about 12 weeks old and all of them LOVE human contact.

    When my older girl is broody you can't go anywhere around her unless you wanna lose somthing..LOL but My 7 month old grey pullet that just went broody I can pick her up and stick my hand under her she puffs up but never has pecked me. I raised her from about 6 weeks old. I believe it has ALOT to do with how they are treated.

  5. speckledhen

    speckledhen Intentional Solitude Premium Member

    Generally, you can breed for temperament. Yes, environment has something to do with it, however, experience has taught me that most of the time, that aggression is heritable. Flighty, aggressive birds produce flighty aggressive birds most of the time. Yes, it isnt across the board-there are exceptions, but generally, temperament is heritable.
  6. It is of both nature and nurture but, nature most of the time. My leghorn roo is friendly and welcomes me into his cage while the RIR rooster tries to flog me but is too fat to make it off the ground. My Buff Orp rooster is friendly and likes to be picked up.

    Take the two cats in my sig photo they are brothers. Yang on the bottom doesn't like to be handled or people petting him much. He will bite strangers. The other cat Zhong is a standard lap cat and can't get enough attention from people. Although mean ole Yang walks on a leash and Zhong will not.
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2009
  7. sred98

    sred98 Songster

    Jan 18, 2008
    I have to say both, just like with people. I had two hens I raised from babies. One was an OEGB and the other a dark Cornish. Both were handled several times a day from day 1. The OEGB never liked you to carry her around once she got old enough to complain about it. Although she was never mean. Now, if she got scared, she'd fly straight onto your shoulder, but you'd better not grab her, or she'd fly right off again. The Cornish, I have actually stepped on because she stays underfoot if I am not carrying her. They both got the same treats and attention. But, the Cornish would always seek us out, the OEGB never did.

    My FIL got Silkie chicks at the same time. He never touched them or held them. He would talk to them and give them treats, but they will flog him in a heartbeat. They don't flog me or my kids, but we don't back down from them. They are very unfriendly chickens. No nuturing.

    I had a barred cochin roo when I was a kid. He was in my grandfather's flock, and lost his top roo position. I took him home and made him a pet. That bird went everywhere with me and we had a great time. The only time he ever acted aggressive (I thought) was when he pecked my lip one time. To be fair, my lips are kind of big and red. [​IMG] So, I'm sure it looked like a strawberry, or something, but when you're a kid, it hurts your feelings! He was an adult when I got him, and hadn't been handled. He never tried to flog or anything like that. Obviously, it was his nature, since he wasn't raised as a lap chicken.

    Good question. I enjoy reading everyone's responses!


BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by