Handleing chicks?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by amcstay, Oct 22, 2008.

  1. amcstay

    amcstay Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 20, 2008
    Austin, Texas
    Sorry for the multiple postings today, but I have questions... last week when we got our babies they had no problem being held. This week they complain a lot and would rather perch on my hnad then be held. Is there anything I can do to make them tolerate or enjopy being held? I work 7 to 4 so the only time I have to handle them is at night. They are complaining a lot when they do get handeled - is this normal? Sometimes I feel that maybe I am holding them too hard, but if I weaken my grip them they can flap their wings and move out of my hold. Am I being a softie?

  2. JennsPeeps

    JennsPeeps Rhymes with 'henn'

    Jun 14, 2008
    South Puget Sound
    I think that how much a chick tolerates handling depends on a couple of different factors, including age & breed. I handled all 3 of my chicks and yet each breed is unique. My RIR hates being picked up and yet my BR & BSL pullets hop into my lap at the first chance (or is that food sighting?).

    My girls did go through a stage when they definitely preferred not to be handled. Kinda like toddlers!

    Human babies are all individual & each one likes to be held a different way.

    Chicks grow so quickly that I wonder if they experience growing pains, making being held uncomfortable.
  3. BFeathered

    BFeathered Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 29, 2008
    North Texas
    My BRs don't hop up or follow me, but they settle down to be petted when I catch them. One of them does have more "attitude" at first, and I have to take extra time with her to settle her. Once they figure out that I'm not torturing them, they snuggle in and sometimes take a quick catnap. They are all unique, so have fun figuring out who likes what, and spend whatever time you can with them. It's therapy for you too!
  4. walkswithdog

    walkswithdog Overrun With Chickens

    Jul 17, 2008
    DC Region
    This is just my take on it. Others probably do it another way, because i'm odd. Cooperative association is something I use in retraining abused animals and the wild or semi-feral, so it's what I do with my chickens.

    I encourage a lack of fear of hands by providing treats from my hands only. Allowing perching is part of trust building. if i do have to pick up a chick and I do so at least once daily - I don't release it until it has relaxed.

    The animal that gets the reward of evasion or escape by making a ruckus will repeat it for that reward. It requires patience and timing. Be aware of what you reward, fuss or relaxation.

    Work on treats for perching time, require relaxation before release. Hanging on for the sake of affection when the animal's instincts have kicked in only increases the instinct.

    Encouraging association, perching, and trust will increase the time the animal WANTS to associate with you and will willingly do so.

    Some animals, and some - both individual birds within breeds, and some breeds more often than not, do not want to be cuddled by humans. Cuddle requires a combination of trust AND a preference for the pressure and physical contact of handling. if the bird has been born without a tolerance for physical pressure and handling, all the work in the world is more likely than not only going to help marginally.

    you can only fight gene-based tolerance of sensation or stress so much. After that genes win.

    Allowing perching, increasing time and the value 'or goodness' of treats, will work with some and not with others. The best treats for the longest calmest contact. Don't surprise them if you can help it.

    When you ARE offering contact, make a noise or say something, each time before you move your hands. No, they don't know what you are saying but they will LEARN to ASSOCIATE sound with action. I offer food, I say 'chick chick', I offer my hands I say "come here". I'm done. I say all done. I put them down, I say, down now.

    Animals LIKE predictability and habit, including sound cues. Simple animals like chickens won't often make the training leaps that many animals begin to. But they will learn what happens after a specific sound. Predictability creates trust.

    If they're Freakers by birth, there's not a lot you can do. If they're just growing up, then you've got a chance at it.

    The more patient you are, the better your chances.

    The wildest of animals can be taught to 'hang' with humans if there is the right pairing of reward and trust.
  5. amcstay

    amcstay Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 20, 2008
    Austin, Texas
    Thanks for the advice. I definetly noticed that one of my Anconas definetly LOVES to be touched and held. The other one is the one who struggles, but she has been calming down a bit. The Red Star complains, but tolerates it. It just seems that this week they have been fussing more lately. Thinking more about it now, it might be a bit of upheveal since we did just go through Hurricane Omar last week.

    I do hold them until they settle and then let them loose. I try to move slowly and always talk to them. I guess I'm on the right track, but I need to keep on doing it as much as possible. I don't know if I reaqly want them to hop up and settle on my lap to watch tv as they will be outside birds, but letting me hold them and pet them would be a plus.

    I lke the idea of feeding them from my hands to get them used to hands. I might try them some. How does that work with future pecking?
    I want my 5 year old to be able to handle them, so I'd be a bit leary of this if she could get pecked later...

    Thanks again! [​IMG]
  6. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

    Nov 9, 2007
    SW Arkansas
    Like JennsPeeps, I noticed when my chicks were small there was times they didn't mind handling at all, others times they just didn't want to be held.
    I just respected that. They are all friendly and able to be easily handled now.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by