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Handling the chickens when sleeping?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by harewizard, Apr 25, 2009.

  1. harewizard

    harewizard Songster

    Apr 5, 2009
    I aquired 3 laying leghorns about a month ago. They are very skittish and run in the coop when I approach the run with treats. They are getting better at coming back out to see what I have to offer, however, by no means would I be able to handle them in a medical situation, without alot of 'drama'. (Current owner had very little contact with them.)

    The other night, I went down to close them in the coop for the night and they were sleeping in the nest boxes.(They have since day 1 here) I have read on here, they should't do that, so I carefully put my hand in the nest box, just to see if I could touch them. A big step.

    I was able to basically give a rub down to one of my hens(the one I could reach) I felt her back and rubbed her wings, got under her with my hand and felt her legs and feet, rubbed her belly... All the while she slept, or least she was quiet and didn't move.

    My question is when they can't see in the dark, are they more inclined to be handled? Or are they just really heavy sleepers? OR was she scared stiff?


  2. PurpleChicken

    PurpleChicken Tolerated.....Mostly

    Apr 6, 2007
    When chickens are not able to see you they go into a type of
    shock when you pick them up. I have no scientific explanation
    other than my own experience. I believe their will to fight or
    run leaves them. I've had a few birds not return to the coop and
    when I found them sleeping outside they don't resist at all.

    Try hand feeding your birds to get them used to you. It will take
    time and patience but it's possible. Most chickens don't like
    being picked up so don't worry about that.
  3. harewizard

    harewizard Songster

    Apr 5, 2009
    Hey PurpleChicken!

    Thanks for the reply! It's good to know this now. I've been reading about egg bound, and crop impacted and others scary medical situations, wondering how I would handle them.

    If I have to check for bugs or mites, would a small flashlight shown on them at night(when sleeping) disturb their catonic stance?

    On the feeding note, we offer them worms, and grubs, clover and chickweed, as well as fruit snacks all through the day. So they are getting used to us. It is just taking a while. I also realize that this breed of chicken are skittish anyway.

    Thanks for your time!
  4. PurpleChicken

    PurpleChicken Tolerated.....Mostly

    Apr 6, 2007
    Quote:It's my pleasure to help. All I'm doing is passing along what others
    have taught me.

    A small flashlight shouldn't bother them at all. Try things out. You really
    can't hurt them by disturbing their sleep unless you do it too often or
    scare them bad. Chickens can die of heart attacks if scared but I highly
    doubt you will do that. It usually happens when a predator attacks.

    I disturb mine all the time. i go into the barn at 1AM if I feel like it,
    turn on the lights, and hang out with my girls. At first they sorta
    look at me like "what are you doing idiot human" but then hop off
    the roosts, have a snack, and start bok bok boking. [​IMG]
  5. Cetawin

    Cetawin Chicken Beader

    Mar 20, 2008
    NW Kentucky
    Trust the purple bus rider. [​IMG]

    As for your leghorns...it is just going to take and patience. They will relax when they realize you are the cool lady that brings the treats and gives comb and wattle rubs. Just keep being consistent with them and they will warm up.

    I only have 6 out of 30 that truly like being picked up and held...everyone else tolerates it.
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2009
  6. lovemychix

    lovemychix Songster

    Oct 14, 2008
    Moulton Iowa
    They will come around if you just be patient and lots of "treats" do the trick. I like to sit on a bucket in the run or coop with a pan of goodies. Before to long you have 5 or 6 hens sitting on your lap or shoulders. [​IMG]
  7. ohiofarmgirl

    ohiofarmgirl Songster

    Jan 22, 2009
    and just so's ya know... leghorns are the most ridiculous chickens EVER. we have a mix of brreds and the leghorns are just plain silly - and flighty - and they scream and run and make a big flap.

    but wowza they are good layers.

    i only have one that i can get close to - her name is Angel Purplepants and the only reason can i can pick her up was b/c she was picked on so badly as a chick. so i had to separate her from the rest of the herd and she spent a lot of time being carried around.

  8. sethsleader

    sethsleader Songster

    Apr 14, 2009
    I wear a fishing headlamp when I go into my coop at night just so ive got bother hands free, one of my little ladies tries it on every night! Mine are hidiously tame hybrids. They haven't had a say in handlig as my boys are always picking them up for cuddles!
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2009
  9. crazyhen

    crazyhen Crowing

    Aug 26, 2008
    mtns of ,NC.
    My hens can not resist bread any form will do. I started first calling and throwing it close to them then gradually a bit closer until now they will come right up to me. some will come to the door and hop almost on me before i get in. I can now pick up all but one. Some are just more skittish than others. They will get there. Jean

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