Hand Feeding Live Mealworms - A Good Way To Socialize Your Hens

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by devildogmrk, May 3, 2011.

  1. devildogmrk

    devildogmrk Out Of The Brooder

    May 3, 2011
    In an effort to teach my chicks to feed on live feed I bought a few dozen crickets and a couple hundred live mealworms. We fed the crickets immediately upon arriving hom and I must say we were quite amused at the "hunt" and the insuing game of keep away that resulting. The chicks would grab one and then run to find a hiding place to eat the cricket in peace only to find that those chicks that had not yet caught a cricket would chase them trying to take it from them. You could definitely see the "pecking order" in full effect during this exercise.

    After deciding that I wanted some of the chicks lower on the pecking order to be able to get some of the meal worms I decided to "hand feed" the meal worms to the chicks. I then saw which chicks trusted me or at least were braver and which chicks were not too sure about this exercise in trust. Even after giving some of the lower on the pecking order chicks their worms it did not mean that they got to keep them as one of the higher on the pecking order chicks sometimes managed to chase them down and take it from them. But for the most part, slowly one by one each of the chicks took their time and came to get a meal worm from my hand. It quickly became evident that this has proved to be the best way for the chicks to come to realize that we are a good thing and that our presence means something good is about to happen (Water, Feed, Treats, Cleanup, etc). This trust is particularly important as they get older, braver, and certainly faster.

    We also dumped some on the bedding and watched them dig for them as they tried to bury themselves under the bedding. That proved to be entertaining and educational as well since it is still too cold outside most days here for these young chicks to go outside. But they will be ready to terrorize the worms, bugs, crickets, and grasshoppers once they do.

    Hoping You Have A Happy Hen House

    (Its a U.S. Marine Thing)
  2. off-grid hen

    off-grid hen Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 1, 2011
    Upstate NY
    Ha! I have one partridge rock chick, "Max" that gets all the ants I toss into the brooder. Other ones (I have 15 in total) just look at the ants sideways and stare. This gives the smart one the chance to grab it. The only other one catching on now is a dominique chick and she is now trying to steal them from max, even though she's a week younger and half the size. I keep trying to coach/encourage the others that they have to fight for their food, lol. Oh! a couple of my brown leghorn chicks are now trying to get the ants too, and a couple more dominiques. I'm sure they'll catch on soon. To get them all socialized to me, I put a pinch of corn meal and chopped up oats (equal parts of both) in my hand and then pick it up and let them eat a few pecks, then put them down. This way every one gets a treat and some "mommy" time but they are also establishing their peck order. My hubby threw some earthworms in the brooder the other day, and THAT WAS FUN. I almost felt bad because it looked like they were trying to find a secluded spot to chomp their worms so nobody else could get it. My 5 yr old said that he likes chick football better than "real" football.

    I will try burying the worms in the bedding. Having chicks is great fun. Oh- and Semper Fi, Marine, from a Marine's daughter [​IMG]
  3. Snegurochka

    Snegurochka Out Of The Brooder

    Apr 7, 2011
    Southern Indiana
    I am interested in trying this, but is there any chance of the chickens picking up parasites from the bugs? I remember reading something about grasshoppers being potentially dangerous.
  4. mshirk

    mshirk Out Of The Brooder

    Mar 28, 2011
    Sammamish WA
    I was so grossed out at the thought of touching the live mealworms, I fed them to my chicks on the end of some plastic red kid's chopsticks! Worked great, it was like they were taking it out of a hen's beak. They still associated me with the mealworms, but I didn't have to get closer than 8" to them [​IMG]
  5. luvmesomechicks

    luvmesomechicks Out Of The Brooder

    Apr 26, 2011
    Riverside, CA
    I brought home some crickets yesterday as well. Was funny to watch all the hens have their attention on the bag they were in. I dumped the bag of 50 crickets in the center and all were eaten within a minute. One cricket actually got about 5 feet from the rest and was almost home free till a late hen that was running toward the crowd scooped it up and ate it [​IMG]
  6. Chick named Lola

    Chick named Lola Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 15, 2010
    I feed the dried or roasted mealworms, LOVE THEM!
  7. Spartan

    Spartan Out Of The Brooder

    May 4, 2011
    I picked up my first chooks (six week old Silkies) a few days ago.

    After two hand feeds of live mealworms I have them running towards my hand every time it enters the brooder. Good start to socialising I think - they will also eat crumble straight from my hand now too as they associate my flat palm, face up with FOOD...
  8. kittycooks

    kittycooks Chillin' With My Peeps

    Quote:I used to let my kids do that until we learned that when the hens get excited and pushy they peck too hard. They drew blood and my kids got scared. So now we hand feed food in a small dish. Silkies are very loving and like to be held. In the winter we would put them inside our jacket and they would snuggle down and take a nap. [​IMG]
  9. hannakat

    hannakat Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 5, 2010
    Beaver County, PA
    The way to a chicken's heart is through it's stomach! I'm in the process of training my peeps the joy of hearing my voice accompanied by treats of meal worms....they're learning fast that hearing mama talk means good things are gonna happen. [​IMG]
  10. epeloquin

    epeloquin Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 11, 2011
    Western Massachusetts
    I heard that chicks need grit to deal with bugs, especially crunchy ones like crickets. I really want to feed them to my girls (3 BRocks and 3 RIRs, just over a week old) but I heard about the grit and decided to wait. What about that?

    My girls love oats too. I also hold my hand plam up with a bit of oats and the go crazy for it. Two of the Rocks love to jump on my and and come out. The Reds are skittish though. Working on them.

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