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Do chickens like to be picked up?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by TwoCrows, May 19, 2011.

  1. TwoCrows

    TwoCrows Show me the way old friend... Staff Member

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    I am new to chickens and had I known that they could be this sweet and affectionate, I would have starting keeping them years ago. I have 4 Australorp girls that I have had since they were 2 days old. I made sure to handle them a lot as babies, so that they would be as friendly as possible as adults. My girls are now 10 1/2 weeks old and are as sweet as can be. They come running when they see me, follow me around like puppies, and fight for the best spot on my lap when I sit down with them in the run. They get all over me and love my attention. I make sure to continue touching them as they sit and sleep on my lap and I can touch them anywhere on their bodies. They enjoy being pet, and especially love their chins and wattle areas rubbed. A few of them love to have the areas around the eyes and comb area rubbed also. When I need to get up, I can gently pick each one of them up and place them down on the ground with no fear or screaming on their part. If one of them was not able to get a good spot on my lap, I can pick her up and place her on my lap with ease.

    Here is the thing. They don't mind being handled at ground level, but if I pick them up and lift them too far off the ground they panic! I mean like they think I am going to eat them! I pick them up in the same manner as I do when I am sitting on the ground and they don't mind that. But the minute their feet get too far off the ground, they become scared, I think. I have tried picking them up from underneath at the breast area and they only terrifies them. So I scoop them up from the sides under the wings, while keeping the wings down as they will flap. Once I am holding them they will calm down, but the moment I begin the lowering process, or the pick up process, the screaming and struggling begins.

    Is there a way to gain their trust as maybe they think they are going to fall? They have only started up this fear about 2 weeks ago, up til then they weren't too bad, although even as babies they hated being picked up. I tried feeding them treats in my hand as I hold them but they only eat the treat and THEN panic. Is it that chickens don't like to be held, or am I doing something wrong? Any info would be appreciated. Thanks...Leyla
     
  2. Beekissed

    Beekissed True BYC Addict

    First you have to ask yourself why you have this need to pick up the chickens. If you must work with them or move them by picking them up, then it will probably only be a sporadic thing and you can just do this quickly and calmly. No need to try to train them to remain calm because this will not be something that happens often.

    If you just want to be picking them up for your own pleasure then you will just have to keep working at it...some may start to trust you and some may never do so. They have an instinctive fear of large creatures grasping them and lifting them into the air....wouldn't you? They are chickens and cannot understand what you are doing. Some chickens may enjoy your attention...if so I would just concentrate my affection on those chickens and let the others just be what they are~plain ol' chickens who don't like the feeling of being picked up.
     
  3. taprock

    taprock Chillin' With My Peeps

    Some of mine love to be held and carried and others do freak out. My son carries them around all the time and has since they were small so they are used to it. There is a definite difference in which birds like it. Try a different position carrying. Again each chicken is different on what it likes.
     
  4. TwoCrows

    TwoCrows Show me the way old friend... Staff Member

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    Thank you for the information. Being new at this, I was not sure how chickens should be acting in such a situation. I am perfectly content with my relationship with my chickens and they sure are content with me. I am just going to let them be and enjoy them!
     
  5. gryeyes

    gryeyes Covered in Pet Hair & Feathers

    As a general rule, chickens do NOT like to be picked up. They do like to jump, hop or fly onto things, though. Be happy with them jumping into your lap when you are amongst them. I have a spot where I sit a lot, on a short retaining wall, and many of my affectionate gals will hop up there and jockey for position to sit on my legs.

    The way to hold them once they are picked up is rather like holding a football in the crook of your arm, but that still involves a bit of flapping when you pick 'em up. They'll calm down - as you've noticed! - once they are held, but the up and down bit isn't something they like very much. They're not in control of it, so it's scary.
     
  6. Sassafras

    Sassafras Chillin' With My Peeps

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    They are very much individuals! I have one EE who freaks when I pick her up. Another EE will scratch my shoe or pant leg to get me to pick her up.. I have an red sex link who likes to be on my arm or shoulder but not held. Both of the black sex links will sit on my palm/forearm and coo to me while I pet them.
     
  7. Sorin

    Sorin Chillin' With My Peeps

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    One thing I will throw in here I haven't seen mentioned yet is that they do like to have their feet on something. When you set them on your lap and they calm down I'm sure some of it has to do with their feet being firmly planted on something, namely your leg [​IMG]
     

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