Earning their trust and friendship

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Gargoyle, Nov 22, 2011.

  1. Gargoyle

    Gargoyle Overrun With Chickens

    Apr 13, 2011
    Fox Valley, IL
    My Coop
    We just got four new chickens (one cockerel, three pullets). They're about 4-1/2 or 5 months old, grew up in a flock with perhaps 40 birds and minimal human contact. They all get along great, huddle together, follow each other around. They don't run too hard from me, so it's easy to pick them up, but they are all shy and a bit scared of me, I feel them trembling when I pick them up and after 30 seconds they will start struggling to get away, so calm them and then put them back down.

    Any tips on training/socializing them? I want to get them to be friendlier, more trusting of me, so they'll eat out of my hand, but also respect me as being the top of the pecking order. The bottom line is that I feel if I don't acclimate them to me when they are still young, they'll be hard to manage as they mature.

    I'm starting to get them used to a wider variety of food and treats, (at the farm they had feed and a large well picked over dirt run, with only a bit of scraggly grass, so their diet wasn't too varied). They like cooked rice, grapes and BOSS, but when I bring the stuff they give me a wide berth, wait till I back off before they attack the food.

    I saw one tip here about a treat call, always call out the same thing when bringing them treats, I'll start that tomorrow. However, I'm not sure how much they even connect me with the arrival of food.
  2. Stephanie739

    Stephanie739 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 7, 2011
    I think you are on the right track, FOOD [​IMG]
  3. foxypoproxy

    foxypoproxy Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 2, 2011
    Madison, CT
    Food and treats gets to any chickens heart faster then any other method!
    Also the more you handle them, the faster they get use to it.
    They catch on that you won't hurt them, once they have been handled quite a bit.
    You just need to move slow around them and talk to them alot, like bonding with any other animal.
    good luck!

    P.S: age doesn't really matter with chickens.
    Ive bonded with a 6+ year old hen that was never socialized/handled.
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2011
  4. Harrietsmum

    Harrietsmum Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 17, 2009
    Hamilton, New Zealand
    Try some little cut up cubes of cheese. Call as you go out to them. The first few times toss the pieces of cheese on the ground one at a time in front of you. It will not take long before they are lining up to take it from your fingers.
  5. Pinky

    Pinky Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 15, 2008
    South GA
    If you've tried the treat call, continue doing it every time you feed them. If you don't mind handling bugs, you could offer them crickets. I've never had a bird turn down a cricket and even the newest birds would come up to me for some. Another thing I do is focus on one bird and try to get it's attention. I will offer it a treat before the others and hang out around it. Once that one has learned to take food from me, the others get jealous and come to me for the food too.
    And I agree that age doesn't matter when bonding I've bought and found plenty of chickens afraid of people, and now I can't walk out the door without the birds running towards me.
  6. calicokat

    calicokat Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 2, 2009
    azalia, indiana
    Treats are the way to their hearts, you're right on track [​IMG]

    Lots of times I'll pull up a lawn chair near the coop and talk to them while they are free ranging. I'll pick one up for a snuggle on my lap and a treat. I've even set up my lawn chair inside the coop. Just getting them used to me and comfortable with me talking to them. It takes time, but they all come around.

    Mind you, I'm the lady that worked for over a year to tame a stray cat though too, I'm kinda persistant that they learn to like me [​IMG] The cat finally caved and let me be his friend. He'd snuggle like no tomorrow. We lost him only 6 months after he "friendlied - up" but I like to think that the love and attention helped make up for his lonely feral years, and he died happy [​IMG]
  7. Gargoyle

    Gargoyle Overrun With Chickens

    Apr 13, 2011
    Fox Valley, IL
    My Coop
    Thanks everybody for the tips and reassurance; it's very helpful, and I'll be following your advice.

    Any other suggestions or ideas are welcome, since I'm sure others here are encountering similar issues.

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