Getting my Chicks to be as Friendly as Possible (Therapy Chicken Status?)

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by BongeDundee, Feb 29, 2016.

  1. BongeDundee

    BongeDundee Out Of The Brooder

    May 4, 2015
    New Jersey
    Hey all,
    I'm getting a new batch of 3 chicks (2 Faverolles, 1 Wynadotte) and I would really like to get them to be as friendly as possible. I want to try to get them Therapy certified, and I'm sure you all know what that entails. What is the best way to get them to enjoy being handled and touched? I want them to be as comfortable with people as possible, but this is only my second time raising chicks from the very start, so I'm somewhat of a novice in this area. I also need to make sure that they do not peck, so how would you train them in that way too? So far, my plan is to expose them to as many things as possible (houses/buildings, children, elders, noises, other animals, etc..) in their first few months, and to really focus on handling them a lot.
    Additionally, I know flock integration has to start the moment they reach my home, but what is the best way to go about introducing my new birds to my old gals so that there is no fighting or anything such in the future?
    Any help/advice is greatly appreciated! Thanks! [​IMG]
    Last edited: Feb 29, 2016
  2. Alexandra33

    Alexandra33 Overrun With Chickens

    Your goal is commendable, @BongeDundee ! [​IMG]Of course, whether the chicken enjoys being loved on is determined by individual personality. I had a chick who went everywhere with me from a day old, now she hates me wholeheartedly, and I also have a mix who was horrified by me from the start (and nobody was even able to handle her), but now is incredibly docile. Salmon Faverolles are renowned for their pet-like qualities, so it looks like you're set there. I've never had them, but I will be getting a couple bantam SFs here in about three days. Wyandottes can go either way; my Golden-Laced, Silver-Laced, and Blue Laced-Red each have different dispositions.

    We handled our chicks extensively from the moment we got them, and now most are quite friendly and loveable. Some tips: hold them A LOT! [​IMG] My mom and I would just sit beside their brooder for hours, all the while spending time with them. Hold them, let them rest in your lap, (on a towel of course, to catch the poop [​IMG]) stroke their backs and chests, talk to them, get them used to different noises and environments. Another thing we really got a lot of progress out of was sitting on the floor while letting them run around the room and come to us when they felt like it.

    There are some seasoned BYC members on here who will be able to give you even further advice! I hope I at least helped you a little. [​IMG]

  3. appps

    appps Overrun With Chickens

    Aug 29, 2012
    I have three faverolles and they all have distinct personalities. One just loves being around you and is as docile as they come. Another can be picked up easily but isn't as docile as the first and the third has to be chased to be picked up. All three wouldn't dream of pecking you though, in fact I've only ever had one bird that pecked and that was a little frizzle and only when she went broody so I'm thinking that's not going to be too much of an issue.

    The secret to taming any chicken is food. As long as you bring food or there is a food reward for being handled you are half way there :). We got our faverolles at 11 weeks and they had had minimal human contact but after a week of food treats and time spent sitting with them every day our quietest would already jump up on my arm.

    So guess a lot will depend on their personalities which will take time to develop. In my whole flock I've probably only got that one, maybe two that are quite enough for therapy birds. The rest are all super friendly but just not quite laid back enough, they would get bored and want to get down.

    As for flock integration. Are these day old or older birds? It's not instant integration as you need to quarantine them at least a month right away from your existing flock to avoid spread of disease or pests. 3-7 week olds can be put in with the older birds after a week together but seperate to get used to each other but sleep seperate for a while and watch like a hawk you don't have a murderous older hen and that they have escape holes and seperate food and water access. Ive done it this way twice now and was by far easier than integrating them when older. They were basically ignored.

    They get much older than that and they become a hen not chick in the older birds eyes and can be attacked to teach them their place in the pecking order. In that case it's better to leave them seperate but together to get used to each other till they are big enough to survive being taught their place in the existing flock.
    Last edited: Feb 29, 2016
  4. Alexandra33

    Alexandra33 Overrun With Chickens

    Oops, I forgot about the whole integration issue! [​IMG] What we've always done is to put the young'uns in a large dog cage to prevent the older girls from causing problems. Just be sure to prop the door open enough to allow for the babies to come and go as they please without letting big, scary birds in. It provides them with a safe haven to escape to if things get crazy.

  5. azygous

    azygous Flock Master

    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    The first most important thing is how you approach your baby chicks in the brooder. If you want them to be calm and easy to handle and not afraid of you, it's necessary to situate the brooder so you can handle them from the side, never from above, which causes them to react with fear as if a predator was attacking them.

    I learned all that the hard way, ruining my first batch of chicks by making them terrified of me because the brooder was on the floor and I had to reach in from above.

    I wrote all about how I've perfected raising chicks over the years. Lots of tips in it if you have time to read it. It's the second article I've linked blow in my signature line.

    Your undertaking is a very admirable one. I wish you all the luck!
    1 person likes this.
  6. JadedPhoenix

    JadedPhoenix Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 29, 2012
    Tyro-Lexington, NC
    Just throwing this out there in case you are not aware of it, but under the ADA, only dogs or miniature horses can be service animals. Emotional Support and Therapy animals do not qualify under FEDERAL standards for service animal protection. Some states have looser standards so check in your own area but don't be surprised when your Therapy Chicken is not welcomed in public buildings.

    As for making them friendly, in addition to the advice that you've already been given, give the chicks reasons to come to you without fear. Sit with treats at your feet without immediately reaching for them since they haven't learned to trust you yet. Slowly work your way up to having it in your lap and allow them to eat without interference from you. Then once you have chicks that jump on you willingly you can attempt to pet them. After that you could then hug them. Slow and steady is usually best.
  7. Jensownzoo

    Jensownzoo Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 7, 2016
    Saint Louis, MO
    Yup, the entry point into a chicken's heartbis definitely through their stomachs! I have been slowly training my chick to allow has gone super fast now that they have it in their skulls that I'm the treat lady!

    My brooder is basically cardboard and duct tape. I cut out a half door that I can close with a clamp so that I could sit outside the brooder on a bucket and watch chicken TV. I started the training by just reaching my hand inside the door, lowering it to the ground, scattering some treats near the door, then withdrawing the hand and staying still to watch them eat. Eventually I had some impatient ones that would start coming over before I had removed my hand...then they were eating out of my hand...then I was scooping them up one at a time to stand on my lap (one hand on their backs to prevent flapping) and eat waxworms out of a cup (their favorite treat)...then I was petting and generally messing with different parts before I gave them the they just started jumping up on my lap of their own accord. Last night they just got petting instead of worms as we're going transition to the intermittent food rewards now. I'm probably going to have to replace their zip tie leg bands this weekend, so that will be a real test.
  8. ejcrist

    ejcrist Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 16, 2015
    Desert Hills, AZ
    Lots of interesting info here. I originally got my flock for utilitarian reasons but they've been growing on me really fast. I have one BR that likes sitting on me wherever she can find a spot and I don't know why she takes to me so much since I haven't done anything to give her a reason to. Most of the other BR's are really warming up to me too but I'm not going out of my way to get them to act that way, in fact I've been trying to keep my distance since I certainly don't want 25 lap hens. Being new at this I can't even begin to explain their behavior, but the point I'm trying to make is I think it totally depends on each individual hens personality and I'm not so sure they can be "trained" to be people friendly; they either are or they aren't. That's just my guess though and I'm sure everyone's mileage may vary. The advice to use a towel is spot on though - I can attest to that one 110%. I think my friendliest BR thinks I'm an outhouse or something as she christens me most every day.

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