Handling new chicks

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by becstalls, May 22, 2010.

  1. becstalls

    becstalls Out Of The Brooder

    87
    1
    41
    May 22, 2010
    Hi All (again),

    I'm new here and just posted my intro. As requested I'm trying to put my question in the appropriate forum. I'm wondering what is the best way to get new chicks used to being handled? I'd like to be able to handle them without them freaking out--especially after they get older, so I don't have to chase them down for wing clipping and such. Right now, they try to run away when I so much as approach the brooder. If I stick around and keep still though, they eventually start to ignore me. I've set my hand down with some food in it and held still, and one or two of them will take food from my hand--it's pretty consistently the same ones, and consistently the same ones that freak out the most. Any suggestions? Thanks! [​IMG]
     
  2. Olive Hill

    Olive Hill Overrun With Chickens

    4,203
    74
    253
    Apr 19, 2009
    The best way to get them used to being handled is to, you guessed it, handle them. Do it while they're small and they can't run too far, too fast. [​IMG]
     
  3. noodleroo

    noodleroo Snuggles with Chickens

    Apr 29, 2010
    Rockport, Tx
    Moderators; I don't mean to spam - I'm just posting this again because I think it will help...


    I posted this on another thread when someone asked how and when to handle her chicks. The warm air in the 'egg' thing really works:

    Start with a small brooder so that you don't have to 'chase' the chicks with your hand to pick them up. Talk softly while you are approching the brooder, move slowly and put your hand in slowly, palm up.

    Slip your hand under the chick's tummy, cup your other hand over her and lift her gently to the area of your chest just under you chin. You want your hands to sort of form an 'egg' around the chick with her head sticking out. NOW THE IMPORTANT PART: Allow warm air to envelope the area around the chick in the 'egg' formed by your hands by putting your mouth just above the chick and using sort of a 'haaaaaaaaaaaah' breath. They tend to relax immediately. When they relax and sit down in your hand, you can then use your thumb or forefinger to gently stroke the area behind the little ears and back of the neck. They learn quickly that your hand is a good thing. Do this several times a day with each one.

    If your brooder isn't small, try this trick to lure them to your hand; make a small dark dot on your palm to entice them to come 'peck the dot'. Once one starts, usually several others will join in. It becomes a competition for them and before they know it they are gently lifted off the ground. I don't use real food; I prefer that they learn from the start that 'hands are for loving'. When I was little, I remember my mother telling me not to handle the chicks; it would make them sick. Obviously, that was not the case (she didn't want me to get dirty). I'm not sure but I think I was an adult before I figured this out. So its OK; you can handle your chicks - just be gentle -they're so tiny....
     
  4. Mrs. Fluffy Puffy

    Mrs. Fluffy Puffy Fluffy Feather Farm

    15,958
    38
    323
    Jan 26, 2010
    Texas, Panhandle
    Try offering them some treats.
    Like grapes cut in half, bread, scrambled or boiled eggs are a favorite. [​IMG]
     
  5. Swampwood

    Swampwood Chillin' With My Peeps

    218
    0
    111
    Apr 25, 2010
    Krotz Springs, LA
    Lol..I'm dealing with my first batch of new ones, 10 total, 4 are 3wks and 6 are 2wks. I am a literal jungle gym to them, I'v handled them twice every day..Palm up with come here wiggle fingers. Now when i open the cage, I have 10 chicks trying to fit into my hands then run up my arms to my shoulders to chew on my ears or perch on my head. The more I handle them, the friendly they get.
     
  6. becstalls

    becstalls Out Of The Brooder

    87
    1
    41
    May 22, 2010
    "NOW THE IMPORTANT PART: Allow warm air to envelope the area around the chick in the 'egg' formed by your hands by putting your mouth just above the chick and using sort of a 'haaaaaaaaaaaah' breath. They tend to relax immediately. "



    Thanks for the suggestions everyone! Noodleroo: How long does it typically take for them to relax? Mine keep shaking and looking at me like I'm about to eat them. [​IMG]
     
  7. noodleroo

    noodleroo Snuggles with Chickens

    Apr 29, 2010
    Rockport, Tx
    Usually it works right away. Just keep doing it so that the area inside your hands warms up; sometimes it puts them right to sleep! If you hold your hands in the area just under your chin it makes it easier to 'keep waming' if necessary and you don't have to keep raising them toward your mouth. I found that it worked right away with my buff orpingtons; took a couple of times with my SL Wayandotts.

    I figured this out when raising guineas. If you work with them, they can be tamed down too. The first one I saw that was really tame was at a hotel in Mexico near Palanque' it would come lay at your feet for you to pet it! I need to find my pictures of my guineas sitting on my lap eating cat food with the neighborhood cat (also on my lap)...
     
  8. becstalls

    becstalls Out Of The Brooder

    87
    1
    41
    May 22, 2010
    So far the ameracaunas are the most skittish, followed by the GL wyandottes, and the barred rocks are the most curious. I'm trying to only handle them when they're already awake, rather than waking them up. Is this a good plan, or would they be calmer when sleepy? Thanks guys!!!
     
  9. noodleroo

    noodleroo Snuggles with Chickens

    Apr 29, 2010
    Rockport, Tx
    As long as they are fed and watered and otherwise comfy, it doesn't really matter. Just pick each one up and do this at least twice a day; three or more times would be better. Some will settle down more than others; just be patient-they'll come around....
     
  10. noodleroo

    noodleroo Snuggles with Chickens

    Apr 29, 2010
    Rockport, Tx
    I just thought of something else; leave your hand in the brooder, palm up. Just let it sit there while you talk softly. The chicks will come over to inspect it. Dont chase them around the brooder to pick them up; make sure they are right by your hand when you do and use that hand to lift them-use the other hand to keep them from jumping out. If you need to make the area of the brooder smaller so they don't have enough room to 'run' away.
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by