Help, My RIR hates me touching her!

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Carrie Lynn, Oct 28, 2010.

  1. Carrie Lynn

    Carrie Lynn Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 30, 2010
    S.E. Michigan
    I have a 9wk.old RIR pullet (I hope) who doesn't want me to touch her. I've had her since she was 2 days-old, but she and the other 3 chicks didn't like being handled from the start,
    The Australorp is coming around, but not the RIR. She is afraid of me, and catching her is so stressful for her. Then, the Aussie starts freakin' because the RIR is acting like I'm going to kill her. Meanwhile my bantam Leghorn just enjoys the drama. What can I do? Treats don't help, she gets them daily, takes them from my hand and is fine with that as long as I don't touch her.
    These birds are supposed to be pets, so being able to handled all of them is very important. I'm so discouraged!
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2010
  2. 4luvofchickens

    4luvofchickens Out Of The Brooder

    Jul 29, 2010
    Northern NY
    I can't help you there. My BR's do not liked to be touched/picked up either. They will let my son pet them when they are on thier roost at night. Maybe she will come around with more time.
  3. True Grit

    True Grit Chillin' With My Peeps

    Up until 3 weeks ago two of my EE's wouldn't let me lay a finger on them. Now they let me stroke their backs and even want me to. They started laying eggs on Saturday. I don't expect they will ever hop up on my knee like my naturally friendly girl but I always wanted to pet my beautiful white EE and now I can. Once they become mature and start squatting you will notice a big difference. [​IMG]
  4. greathorse

    greathorse Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 1, 2008
    Northern Colorado
    Leave her alone let her be a chicken. It is my experience that chickens at best tolerate being handled, much less enjoy it.
  5. dwegg

    dwegg Chillin' With My Peeps

    I have 10 girls (3 are babies 3mths old) and I found that I let them do what they want.

    I have some that will come to me and let me pick them up and pat them, some that like to be right next to me, eat out of my hand and dig with me in the same hole for worms but don't like to be picked up or touched really, and then two that just run screaming like they are on fire if I reach out to touch them. [​IMG] They all have their personalities and I love that about my little flock.

    I DO want to pick all of them up but I have never forced it and let it be what it would be and I feel that my girls feel safe around me because I don't grab for them or expect anything of them except to be a chicken.
  6. waitin on eggs

    waitin on eggs Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 29, 2010
    I have 3 girls 26 weeks. 1 girl has been a lover since day one, follows me everywhere, pecks at my feet till I sit on the grass with her, jumps on my forearm till I hold her like a baby she nuzzles right into my neck.. BTW she gave me my first beautiful egg today. The other 2 girls take treats from my hand and follow me somewhat, but I really cant touch them or they start a squawking and run away. Although 1 has been squatting for a couple days now and she seems a little more willing to interact with me. Maybe its a maturity thing.. I dunno just let them do what they want. Mine at least have 3 totally different personalitys. Good Luck
  7. kla37

    kla37 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 18, 2010
    Hillsborough, NC USA
    Our Australorps are real attention seekers, and the buff orpington is a lover who always jumps into laps. The cochins are kind of skittish, and tolerate being petted, but our Barred plymouth rock is the one that doesn't want any attention at all, unless it's food motivated. I think some chickens just don't realize or care if they are pets! Give her time, she may come around! At least they are still beautiful to look at and calming to watch, plus the eggs and bug control and fertilizer they provide. Keep on lovin' them! [​IMG]
  8. azygous

    azygous True BYC Addict

    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    It's a combination of breed and individual personality whether or not a chicken enjoys being handled.

    Among my variety of breeds, the Brahmas and the Ameraucanas consistently are the most tame and sociable. My Wyandottes are all stand-offish, except for Stan, the two-year old SLW rooster, who recently went through a dramatic personality reversal after suffering what appeared to be a stroke. Before the stroke, he was combative. Since the stroke, he allows me to pick him up and he appears to enjoy being held and cuddled now.

    Then there's Darrel, the five-month old Black Cochin cockerel. He's in an almost constant state of fear and freaks out totally when approached.

    All of my flock were hand-raised with plenty of handling, but there's a broad range of tolerance to being touched. I can only attribute it to genetics and their individuality.

    That said, don't give up. Besides Stan's behavior change, I've had other hens who didn't initially want to be touched that later changed their minds and became classic lap hens.
  9. MakNugget

    MakNugget Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 31, 2010
    Portland, OR
    Quote:x2, what Azygous said.

    It really depends on their personality. When mine were chicks, I've been known to be The Hand of Terror, reaching down into the brooder. I handled them everyday, and they've upgraded me to simply The Hand. Lulu (BO) let me scoop her up, the other two were less enthused, but tolerated. It was best to get my RIR first, since the BA + RIR = Best Friends Forever (to this day). After a few weeks they would come visit and spend time on me (The Perch Man) up until about 12 weeks.

    Then a few weeks later after being outside, the hormones kicked in. *RED ALERT* DEFLECTOR SHIELDS AT MAXIMUM! I swear they would move out of the way sensing my hands coming near. It seemed to get worse as the weeks went on, closer to laying. The BO that I used to be able to scoop up with one hand while staying perfectly still was the worst! I would inevitably catch them just to pet them and to do a quick body check and Lulu would raise holy heck. Ruby (BA) always keeps her distance, but once I had her in my lap she just ter ter ter talking quietly, sounding almost like a #itch session about how her BFF (Ruby is ranked 3rd, and BFF RIR Aichan is #1) is always chasing her. The RIR is the most tolerable of the three, but she just would rather be digging in the sand.

    I've read on some older posts that some chickens just mellow out after laying and I held on to that possibility as my only hope. Now with all girls laying, it seems to be somewhat the case. Lulu is much much more cuddly, and although it takes two hands, I can similarly pick her up and put her down like the old days. The RIR is a busy girl and has much to do, but won't mind being picked up so much. The BA still has her forward deflectors on at 20%, but if I sneak up I can get her in a squat and she's MINE! ter ter ter

    You said treats don't work, but keep trying. Find a killer treat that they just can't get enough of. Raisins, grapes work great for me. The part that's not so great is you should hold on to the treat as they eat from it. Raisins work great for this as you just pinch 1 between your finger, and they tear into it after the soft insides. While doing this, use your other hand to touch their feet/legs, sides, neck... gently, as an exchange for the yummy treat. If you can get them to fly on your lap, even better as it gives you an excuse to be close to them. Other treats work well too, but I must say for the mileage, raisins work the best for this. I can have three working on one raisin pinched in my hand. It's like crack for chickens.

    After you get them hooked on crack, pick one up (use a raisin as a lure if you have to) and sit with them. Before they realize that it was a trap, you give them whole raisins to swallow whole. I used to often hold/pet/talk to them while giving them a raisin in plain site and before letting them go, I would give a few extra on the side so that the others wouldn't know. You'll end up getting the others flying up to join you if you don't throw some down to them as well, but for the most part I can keep a one to one session this way.

    Just don't go too crazy on the amount of raisins... A small snack box lasts a while. Remember, what goes in, must come out.
  10. azygous

    azygous True BYC Addict

    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    MakNugget! That was a hugely humorous, but extremely precise account of the problem with making friends with our chicken folk. They're a fickle bunch, all right!

    Here's a personal tip for you and all who still brooder the chicklets on the floor and reach in from above. This past spring, when I ordered my new batch, I was reading this forum and someone posted about this very problem - baby chicks being terrified of our hands reaching in for them.

    That triggered a major brain flash: why not do a brooder up on a table with side access instead? So I got busy before the babies came, and got some boxes for a two bedroom condo. I cut doors into the sides, leaving one side lightly scored for a hinge. I fashioned latches out of popsicle sticks, and cut windows covered with plastic on the back side so the window could flood the babies with natural light. I hooked the boxes together with a pass-through.

    I spread 6 mil plastic on the bottom and installed the pine shavings. When the babies moved in, I administered to them from the side, and they could see that a loving human was attached to the Big Hands. It made all the difference! All of the chicks were tame and unafraid from the very start! All of them let me pick them up, and there was no evading the Big Hand because they saw it belonged to a non-predator.

    It's been lately, starting with the "teen stage", that some have decided they no longer appreciate the cuddling. Oh well, they do grow up, don't they?

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