Frightened Easter Egger Pullets

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by wwin, Aug 17, 2016.

  1. wwin

    wwin In the Brooder

    Mar 6, 2016
    Long Beach, Ca.
    We raised our first three hens from baby chicks and all grew to be friendly easy going girls. Sadly two were killed by a hawk over the winter so we bought two 4-month-old white leghorns and two easter egger newborn chicks. I assumed the leghorns would be skittish due to the breed and getting them older and they are. What I didn't expect was our now almost 5-month-old easter eggers to be so frightened and untouchable.

    We did everything the same with the easter eggers as with the first set of chicks( Rhode Island Red /Barred Rock). We held them daily, tried to hand feed them, spent time with them etc. but they would never take food from us and were always hysterical when we touched them. At 5 months old they are now in with our friendly mature chicken and not so friendly white leghorns. The problem is we can't get near the EE to clip their wings or help if injured or sick.

    I've continued to try and give treats but it's been almost 5 months and they won't come near or touch the food when I'm around although our older Barred Rock comes over and eats it all happily. Are there any other suggestions or is the answer just to keep trying?

    Last edited: Aug 17, 2016
  2. islandgirl82

    islandgirl82 Songster

    Jul 4, 2014
    They should settle down a bit once they start laying but there's no guarantee. EEs are a mix of who knows what that just happen to carry the blue egg gene (though it doesn't mean that's what they'll lay). I've had some that have been very friendly and like to be held and others that don't even though I raised them all the same way. The ones that don't still recognize me as their caregiver and will follow me around. They will eat from my hands and climb onto my lap if they choose but do not like to be handled when I choose.

    Be patient with them and don't chase or corner them. Try going into the coop at night (they can't see and are much easier to handle) and hold them then. Talk to them and pet them to get them used to it. It doesn't mean that they'll want to be held during the day but they'll learn that you're not so scary. I'll also suggest petting them with the back of your hand and from under their necks and chest area. Your hand coming down from above would look much like a predator's jaws or claws which will terrify them as they are prey animals. Also, sit with them and offer them treats. They'll love that and it's a great way to build trust.
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2016
  3. dekel18042

    dekel18042 Songster

    Jul 18, 2013
    I have different breeds including Easter Eggers in my flock and all are friendly and come running when they see us.
    Since your EE"s were raised with leghorns which are known to be skittish I wonder if this was a learned behavior on the EE's part? After all, ,in a flock situation, someone gives the warning call and they all flee for cover. Perhaps in your case the leghorns are skittish and worried about being handled so the EE's figure there must be something to worry about.
    I've already gotten young adults which tamed fairly easily. Perhaps if you can go amongst them and just sit and read a book they will come over. Chickens are curious. Just be with them doing nothing. When they do come you can toss treats. This approach has worked with many chickens.
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2016
  4. wwin

    wwin In the Brooder

    Mar 6, 2016
    Long Beach, Ca.
    The EE were separate from the other till about 2 months ago. Even as chicks in the brooder the EE would become hysterical when we touched them and would never take treats from us. The two became very attached to each other but never bonded with us. The white leghorns are getting better and will eat treats when I set them near me. I'll try to touch them at night and spend more time in the enclosure. Maybe I'll block off the Barred Rock so the treats I set around me won't be eaten up immediately. I'm also thinking I may try to switch from free-feeding to scheduled feeding for a while (so they associate me with the food).
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2016
  5. Pork Pie

    Pork Pie Flockwit

    Jan 30, 2015
    I think that you have some very good feedback. I'd suggest being patient and wait and see if there is a difference in their demeanour once they begin to lay. Sometimes, regardless of our efforts, some chickens will never want to be handled - they are all different. At least you know that you can pick them off the roost on an evening to check them over. Personally, as long as it does not create serious inconvenience to myself, i let my chickens do what they like - its a lot less hassle (for both chicken and me) than trying to force a chicken to do what i want.


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