Maybe someone can help with some questions I have..I know when you first bring your babies home--at least for the first few days you are not to bother them too much because of stress--I didn't except to feed, water and check for pasy butt (I've had since Fri 5/20) 16 pullets (have RIR, BO, BR, SLW, but one of my RIR might be a Part. Rock not sure yet)
So what I wanted to know--when is a safe time to start actually interacting with them--handling them--how much--when will they start being so skittish and scared? I want them to be a tame and docile and try to get them affectionate pets along with being egg layers. I want my family to be able to have a positive interaction with them.
Any ideas, or time lines will be appreciated--or am I expecting too much--I mean I know they are animals though...Thanks..
1. Yup. They're establishing the pecking order. It gets really wild around week three when the chest bumping starts. My girls also jumped on each others heads around week 5. It seems to have lessened since they went into the new coop. Either they're less stressed because they have more room, or the order's been established for good now. Head hen emerged very early, in week 3.
2. Probably not. Everything wants to kill a chicken, so they need to be on the skittish side. The hawk instinct is very strong; they will react to any movement coming from above. Move slowly and you will calm them. They should get used to you and bond (use treats!), but only half of mine are what I would call "friendly". One is downright needy.
3. It depends. Some breeds there are tells right away (a female BR has more black than a male BR). Sometimes you have to wait for the comb, or the wattles, or the feathers, or the stance. I got one roo in 12 pullets, and I began to suspect around week two, when he wasn't feathering in as quickly as the others. At 4 weeks, his comb popped way the heck up and now, at 6 weeks, I'm sure. Some people of this site are still unsure as late as ten weeks. After about 4-5 weeks, you can post photos here and get some expert opinions.
Go ahead and handle them daily, for short periods. Or even a couple times daily. Yes, they will shriek and struggle as you try to pick them up (that's natural behavior) but they will settle down. Try to be at their level, sitting down on the floor. Let them scamper around, then pick one up.
--when is a safe time to start actually interacting with them--handling them--how much--when will they start being so skittish and scared? I want them to be a tame and docile and try to get them affectionate pets along with being egg layers. I want my family to be able to have a positive interaction with them.
My experience: They are skittish and they need to be, but they are also insatiably curious. I accessed my brooder by cutting and folding down one side of a large cardboard box to make a kind of flap (we called it the drawbridge). I would sit there and wait. Within the first few days they had hopped up onto the cardboard flap and would let me pet their chests. Once they "get" treats, it becomes much easier to bribe them into contact.
I decided I wasn't going to pick them up, and was going to let them come to me. It worked for me, but, again, only half of mine are friendly. A lot of people, however, here say handle them as much as you can. Go with your gut, and listen to your babies. I found if you move slowly and touch them gradually and softly, it dispells their fear. Predators move quickly, so swift movement will send them running, as it should. I now have six out of twelve that want to jump up into my lap when I visit the coop, and one who follows me around pecking at my shoe until I pick her up. I'm happy with that result.
I have been handling a couple times a day--a select few in the flock--and placing feed in palm of my hand and just laying it in the brooder and sitting it still and letting them come and eat out of my hand--a few times a few of them sat down in my hand and fell asleep eating in my hand....lol..I know not all will "come around" but even if I can get a few to I would be happy. When are you able to start offering treats and what is the best to start off with?
Thank you for your responses! Ok so another thing.. I have my 4 chicks ( 2 RIR & 2 Silkies) they are almost 2 weeks old. I have them in a rabbit cage at the moment with a plastic bottom and i have them on 2 inches of pine shavings. They keep pecking at the bottom of the cage, Why? They are now getting feisty ( Pecking Order ) got that ). They fight over food but why there is 12 openings on their feeder and only 4 chicks..LOL I cant wait to let them put back to play and do their chicken things. At what age can i do this? and Do i need to worry about them in the sun and rain? Also what kind of treats do you give them and at what age?
1- Mine are always curious, pecking at everything in sight. They scamper through their shavings kicking it up and pecking at it.
2- I'm not sure about the feeder and the chicks fighting over just a couple of the openings. I have seen my neighbors chickens do this with nest boxes as well. My chicks are funny like that too. I'm not sure if it has something to do with following the head honcho or not.
3- My chicks run to the porch were their brooder is when it starts to rain. If it's warm out when raining, I have seen them stay out in the field to range. It doesn't seem to bother them at all. My chicks love sun bathing. They dig up dirt, lay in the hole they created and spread their wings out to sun bath. It's adorable
We have bushes around the front of our porch that the chicks will roost in if the sun is unbearable. They do need shade from the scorching.
4- I give my chicks plain yogurt with crumble on the top. This is their nightly snack that I give them before locking them up for the night. They also get scraps from my kitchen... lettuce cut up, apple cores, grapes, bread, crackers- just to name a few. I was giving mine yogurt from day one. I started the kitchen scrap with grit around a week of age. This is also when they started to range.
Do you mean to when to put them outside?
do you have a coop or fenced run?
Or will you free range?
They need access to shade in the hot sun, and a shelter in the rain. And secure access at night from predators.
Little chicks need LITTLE treats so they dont get food stuck. at any age they like greens and fruits and best of all - bugs. chop up the greens and fruits real small.