How much handling is ok, and how do you get them used to you?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by lswatson111304, Oct 13, 2011.

  1. lswatson111304

    lswatson111304 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sep 18, 2009
    Milano, TX
    So I have 6 new chicks. I've had them for a week now. 4 of them are just over a week old, not quite 2 yet. They were of course ok with me handling them. Now they are getting a bit skittish. My other 2 are silkies and were 2 weeks when we bought them, so about 3 now I'm guessing. The woman I got them from told me that they had been under her broody hen, so they hadn't been handled at all. They are very skittish. I've tried to spend some "quality time" with them. They've even taken a nap next to me, but when I approach them, they freak and if I want to catch them you kinda got to chase them around. I'm sure all this is normal, but I guess my question is, should I give up? Or keep trying to handle them? And what will be the "norm" for them later on. Will they ever be used to me coming around, or will they always be scared of me? I want "pet" chickens. I don't expect them to like, go on walks with me, but to not be frightened of me when I come in to collect eggs or whatever later in live would be great.
     
  2. Honeybun

    Honeybun New Egg

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    Oct 13, 2011
    Arizona
    Same thing has happened to me. They were used to me, but as they get older they like being held less and less... though I'm not even sure if they liked being held at all! One of the chickens I raised will still come up to me and walks around, but absolutely HATES being picked up! Somebody once told me that if you put them in your lap a lot they will just do it naturally (I'm not sure if this is true, though). Don't know if this will help, somebody else will probably have better advice, but good luck with the chicks! [​IMG]
     
  3. bleith

    bleith Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Aug 10, 2010
    West Dundee IL
    My personal experience is to handle frequently, but I have found some birds just like to be handled and some don't. Mine are 22 weeks old and my 2 balck Australorps are great. you can pick up just about anytime. My Delaware and EE don't want any part of it. One thing I have found is to feed them out of your hand as early as possible. That way they will do it when they get full grown and will or should be pretty gentle about it. I have a friend who has chickens and never fed them and none of them really want to come near them. mine all run to me when I go outside except the EE, she is skeptical at best of my presence [​IMG]
     
  4. ScottyHOMEy

    ScottyHOMEy Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 21, 2011
    Waldo County, Maine
    Quote:There was post a few days about this that I can't find right off. It's largely a matter of conditioning.

    Fact is you tower over them, and are perceived as a threat. Chasing them will only reinforce that instinctive reaction in them.

    First step is to get yourself closer to their level. Whether this means raising their brooder, or you having to make a point of coming in low. You needn't get on your belly to approach them, but kneeling next to a low brooder will help a lot. They will get accustomed to you being the hand that feeds and you will find that calling out to them beforehand to let them know you're coming will be a big help. As they transition to the coop and run, and find more chickenly things to do with their time, if you've done it generally right up to then, they'll generally come to meet you or (the best ) be generally indifferent your presence. They'll all behave differently. Some will come up to you to see what you're about and will remain underfoot, and of those some will return soon to the ones that looked up and said, "Oh, it's just Honeybun." and went on about their business. There will be those few that will peck at the eyelets on your boots whenever you stand still and those that won't want to come near you. Your aim is to keep that last group as small as possible.

    With chicks, I let them know I'm coming and come in low. I keep the tone of my voice low, move deliberately but not so as to startle them as I lift feeders and waterers in and out of the brooder. For a little conditioning time, I'll leave my hand rest, palm up. A shiny ring on one finger will draw some of the curious in. I'll move slowly to maneuver into position and, without chasing or grabbing at the chick (again moving deliberately if not entirely swiftly), scoop my hand in to nestle under it with just a little llift, but not enough to take its feet off the ground, just cup it. As they become accustomed to this over time, you can lift them, and wiggle your fingers to help/encourage their wiggling feet to get atop your palm. You'll learn which ones are bolder. Most but all of the others will be drawn in to join the fun over time. Try to keep track of them and take things in small steps. If they want to flutter or jump off, let them. Don't chase them to get them back.

    Take it in small steps, and they and you will both get the hang of it. Approach it this way and you will get some sense of how to affect their behavior when they move out into the larger world of the coop and run.
     
  5. SteveBaz

    SteveBaz Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Aug 6, 2011
    Pacific North West
    Quote:[​IMG] welcome this a great community

    1 week is such a small investment in time. You will see the one you handle the most might not be the best petting bird. Skittish is all about trust and the more you handle them the more they trust. Being in the daily life of things helps. Sitting in a closed area like a bathroom and petting them and feeding them treats. I am lucky I have a large enough coop to get into to sit and force them to inter act. Be prepared to get a bit poopy and low down dirty and play, love, touch, feed, bait, bribe and do whatever it takes each day to change them from a wild bird to a pet of yours. If there are others in the home they must inter act also. 1 can do most of the work but you all must do the same consistent things at first. Give up is your choice but as an example I have a Blondie that comes to me and Blondie is a 8 week old chick and we talk. Again I cant stress the amount of time you invest is what you get back. My girls come running. I have made friends. There are members here that say their chicks walk and as they grow continue to follow you around as an excepted companion. They will not know you got the eggs if you do it timely. Don't give up now the adventure is just beginning. Good luck to and you flock.
     
  6. KandiandJerry

    KandiandJerry Chillin' With My Peeps

    Quote:There was post a few days about this that I can't find right off. It's largely a matter of conditioning.

    Fact is you tower over them, and are perceived as a threat. Chasing them will only reinforce that instinctive reaction in them.

    First step is to get yourself closer to their level. Whether this means raising their brooder, or you having to make a point of coming in low. You needn't get on your belly to approach them, but kneeling next to a low brooder will help a lot. They will get accustomed to you being the hand that feeds and you will find that calling out to them beforehand to let them know you're coming will be a big help. As they transition to the coop and run, and find more chickenly things to do with their time, if you've done it generally right up to then, they'll generally come to meet you or (the best ) be generally indifferent your presence. They'll all behave differently. Some will come up to you to see what you're about and will remain underfoot, and of those some will return soon to the ones that looked up and said, "Oh, it's just Honeybun." and went on about their business. There will be those few that will peck at the eyelets on your boots whenever you stand still and those that won't want to come near you. Your aim is to keep that last group as small as possible.

    With chicks, I let them know I'm coming and come in low. I keep the tone of my voice low, move deliberately but not so as to startle them as I lift feeders and waterers in and out of the brooder. For a little conditioning time, I'll leave my hand rest, palm up. A shiny ring on one finger will draw some of the curious in. I'll move slowly to maneuver into position and, without chasing or grabbing at the chick (again moving deliberately if not entirely swiftly), scoop my hand in to nestle under it with just a little llift, but not enough to take its feet off the ground, just cup it. As they become accustomed to this over time, you can lift them, and wiggle your fingers to help/encourage their wiggling feet to get atop your palm. You'll learn which ones are bolder. Most but all of the others will be drawn in to join the fun over time. Try to keep track of them and take things in small steps. If they want to flutter or jump off, let them. Don't chase them to get them back.

    Take it in small steps, and they and you will both get the hang of it. Approach it this way and you will get some sense of how to affect their behavior when they move out into the larger world of the coop and run.

    That is great advice.....[​IMG]
     
  7. PixieChixie

    PixieChixie Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oct 6, 2011
    Quote:There was post a few days about this that I can't find right off. It's largely a matter of conditioning.

    Fact is you tower over them, and are perceived as a threat. Chasing them will only reinforce that instinctive reaction in them.

    First step is to get yourself closer to their level. Whether this means raising their brooder, or you having to make a point of coming in low. You needn't get on your belly to approach them, but kneeling next to a low brooder will help a lot. They will get accustomed to you being the hand that feeds and you will find that calling out to them beforehand to let them know you're coming will be a big help. As they transition to the coop and run, and find more chickenly things to do with their time, if you've done it generally right up to then, they'll generally come to meet you or (the best ) be generally indifferent your presence. They'll all behave differently. Some will come up to you to see what you're about and will remain underfoot, and of those some will return soon to the ones that looked up and said, "Oh, it's just Honeybun." and went on about their business. There will be those few that will peck at the eyelets on your boots whenever you stand still and those that won't want to come near you. Your aim is to keep that last group as small as possible.
    With chicks, I let them know I'm coming and come in low. I keep the tone of my voice low, move deliberately but not so as to startle them as I lift feeders and waterers in and out of the brooder. For a little conditioning time, I'll leave my hand rest, palm up. A shiny ring on one finger will draw some of the curious in. I'll move slowly to maneuver into position and, without chasing or grabbing at the chick (again moving deliberately if not entirely swiftly), scoop my hand in to nestle under it with just a little llift, but not enough to take its feet off the ground, just cup it. As they become accustomed to this over time, you can lift them, and wiggle your fingers to help/encourage their wiggling feet to get atop your palm. You'll learn which ones are bolder. Most but all of the others will be drawn in to join the fun over time. Try to keep track of them and take things in small steps. If they want to flutter or jump off, let them. Don't chase them to get them back.

    Take it in small steps, and they and you will both get the hang of it. Approach it this way and you will get some sense of how to affect their behavior when they move out into the larger world of the coop and run.

    [​IMG]

    I think you may be referencing this thread . I had it bookmarked... [​IMG]
     
  8. nubbin

    nubbin Out Of The Brooder

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    May 4, 2011
    Lots of great advice already. I found that my chicks really responded to sound, so using soothing noises around them can help. You'll see as they get older they'll respond to voice since they'll equate you with food or free range time or whatever. I think you can and should do your best to spend quality time but in the end it will be up to the chicken how interactive they want to be. I have an EE who will eat out of my hands for treats but evade me totally when I try and handle her, then she'll turn around and jump up on my lap if I'm sitting down and she gets a mind to. I saw a great line on a farm blog about how chickens like to be as close as they possibly can to you without you touching them, and I find that to be very true!
     
  9. lswatson111304

    lswatson111304 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sep 18, 2009
    Milano, TX
    Thanks for all the advice. I did actually read another thread about this at one point. So I went out and raised the brooder so they are at about chest level where it opens up. So I duck down a little to approach them. Well, actually when I open my door they can see me through the wire in the front of the brooder, but in the back is where they can't see, and it frightens them. I do try to talk, and I try to get closer to their level. I even took my 2 silkies out one day and put an old sheet on my bed and let them explore me, and just try to get used to me. They just fell asleep. LOL
    I don't mind the poop (while its small!) and stuff as I'm trying to get them used to me, I just wanted to know if it was ok to handle them, and how much. And whats the best way. I will quit the "chasing" them and just let them approach me now. Thanks so much!
     
  10. jmtcmkb

    jmtcmkb Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sep 2, 2011
    New Hampshire
    Quote:I found I had one very friendly one at first, the others followed after a while (now I can't get any of them to settle, too flighty) but I have 2 red stars and they could really care less about coming near me. I sit near the brooder ( hardware cloth sides) and the other 3 chicks come running and act all friendly, but the 2 red Stars stay clear away and dont seem interested. Yeah putting your hand in there and letting them approach worked well, until now they flip out and try to fly cuz they know they can;)
     

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