How to get a chicken used to bieng stroked? And do chickens have different accents/tones when they'r

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Steamdemon, May 24, 2016.

  1. Hello. Sybil and Tosca, our Rhode Rock and Bluebell love being stroked whilst they're in the nesting area. You can even pick them up. Letty, our Light Sussex started laying a lot later. However, she doesn't like being stroked or picked up. Any way me or mum can get her used to being handled?

    Also, Sybil is quiet when she's laid an egg. I have heard her egg call this morning, probably told the others to shut up as they were egg calling right next to her. To be honest, I don't blame her. It's got a bit of a low tone to it. So, my other question is, are the tones/accents unique to each chicken?
  2. nativegirl

    nativegirl Out Of The Brooder

    Mar 14, 2016
    North Carolina
    I still have trouble picking up some of my girls, but most are getting better. I pick them all up at least every other day. I've also put treats on my lap to get them more comfortable with sitting on me. All the advice I recieved when I asked the same question about 2 months ago said you just need to handle them more. Although in some cases because they have different personalities, one might never enjoy being held or pet. As for the sounds each chicken makes. Yes they can be different. Some may be loud while others softer in tones. Even if theyre the same breed. One of my RIRs is very vocal/loud and always has something to say. But then another Red is softer in what she has to say.
  3. ChickyChooky

    ChickyChooky Out Of The Brooder

    Hi, NativeGirl!

    This is what I've learnt during the past 4 yrs )with various breeds whom I've chosen due to their friendly reputation, quieter than most and reasonable layers) that:

    a) it does depend on the breed but, what is generally normal for that breed there are exceptions to the breed. e.g.1. Silkies are extremely friendly and (usually) love to be cuddled and stroked. Though, I do have one that, though I've handled her every day since she was a hatchling, she isn't overly fond of being picked up. I always get the feeling that she "puts up with me cuddling her". Though, recently, since she has just finished fostering her first set of chicks (shared with two other foster Mums), she does appear to be more conducive to it.
    e.g.2. I had the most delightfully friendly Speckled Sussex pullet who used to always jump up onto my arm or shoulder and chortle away to me. I adored her but she never made it to Hen-hood as she one day pecked out my nose-stud which I think caused her death after a couple of weeks. I never wear nose studs any more! I was soo upset! If I knew what I knew now, I would have operated on her right away and removed it before it did any damage or caused a blockage as I've done two successful compacted crop operations since that time. Though, a while ago now as I chop up any long grass so there is no longer a problem! Anyway, her sister was quite the opposite. Go figure! This isn't the only time that a so-called breed has turned out not-so-friendly according to their breed.

    b) From my experience, there is a greater chance of producing "friendly" chickens if you personally incubate them and bring them up from hatchlings and handle them every day whilst talking to them in chicken language as well as your own human language. Even so, there are still exceptions to that rule but a far lesser chance of not succeeding. e.g. I hatched 3x lovely Blue Australorp girls who just didn't enjoy being picked up so I sold them. This past season, I tried again. This time, they were exceedingly friendly but the 2x Splashes are boys and the Black was the only girl! Splashes or Blues were what I was hoping for. Never mind. Love the girl! Maybe I can get my son to keep one of the male Splashes for me!? Lol!

    c) Using Foster Mums will also depend on how protective the Foster Mum is and how much she trusts you. I've assisted a stuck chick out of it's shell right in front of the Mum or Foster Mum so that she can see what I'm doing and they have always watched patiently and made little reassuring noises presumably to the chick. Usually, if you insist on picking up the chicks daily in front of the Mother, no matter how they behave, the Mother usually doesn't make a fuss about it which reassures the chick that you are ok. Though, Lacy, my SL Wyandotte, during her first lost of fostering, decided to still make a fuss no matter what I did. So, her chicks were very wary of me because of her behaviour. Then, to my surprise, the 2nd time around, she decided not to make such a fuss and the chicks are really friendly and come running whenever they see me! Thank goodness, I decided to give her a 2nd chance at Fostering!

    N.B.: if they do try to peck you, flick their beak each time. It won't hurt them. Just uncomfortable for them and just asserts you as higher in the pecking order.

    d) If you've purchased them as a pullet or hen, it will all depend on how much they've been handled before you received them. I, once, purchased Silkies who were kept in rather crowded cages and, no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't get them all to be happy about being picked up. Some did improve but were never like the Silkies I have now whom I've brought up since they were hatchlings. And Silkies are supposed to be all naturally extremely friendly and love their cuddles.

    e) Treats! Whether it be special seeds (they usually love sunflower seeds), meal worms, maggots (if you can stand holding them! Lol!) or even cut up cheese (Yep! I did say cheese! 98% of chickens or chicks absolutely love cheese!) try to hand feed them to them personally. At first, some may peck your hand quite hard so ensure you lay your hand quite firmly flat. If you ensure that there is plenty to go around, they will realise that they don't have to worry about missing out. If you ensure that those who tend to get in last and miss out, call them to you and try to make sure the greedy ones don't keep pushing in. If you can't prevent it from happening, call the missing out hen by name and gently and very firmly holding the wings tight (that always reassures them and makes them feel secure), pick them up and give them their treats separately.

    An important time to give them treats: after you have done the following: whenever you need to check them over, give them medicine if necessary, clip their crests, clip their wings if absolutely necessary, etc., etc.

    f) Just stroking them whether they are sitting on your lap, shoulder, knee or standing: Especially when chicks, hold out your hand, slowly and gently move towards them, with a reassuring voice, then slowly stroke just their chests without picking them up. At first, they may seem nervous but will soon get used to your approach and realise that it doesn't necessarily mean that you are going to pick them up. After a while, they will just stand there, let you do it and chortle away in conversation with you. Especially when they see you do it to the others.

    I have an Salmon Araucana called Freaky (you can guess why!) who freaks out at the slightest thing. Araucanas are a flighty bird but this one is really loopy! The slightest disturbing noise and she runs, (including in circles!), until she realises that no one else around her is concerned. I'm actually concerned that one day she is going to give herself a heart attack! Freaky lives with the Silkies though she is the biggest there, she is the lowest on the pecking order. Anyway, I thought that I was never going to get her to enjoy being picked up and cuddled even though I've had her since she hatched! Well, she hated being picked up but would absolutely go into raptures about being cuddled and stroked! Now, I've noticed that she doesn't go into a complete panic when I call her name to let her know that I'm about to pick her up. Just a little jumpy but she actually waits now.

    I should write a book, shouldn't I?! Tee hee! [​IMG] There are a few other little titbits about how to make them feel more secure and comfortable like most love their ears being stroked (away from their eyes) whilst being cuddled.

    Anyway, there's plenty here for you to try on your chickens. Good luck!

    All the best,

    Chucklin' & Cluckin' Away! [​IMG]

    ChickyChooky [​IMG]
  4. ChickyChooky

    ChickyChooky Out Of The Brooder

    Hi, Steamdemon,

    Yes. You can but she may not like it at first. But, be persistent and don't give up easily. Start off bit by bit. First, just stroke her, talk to her calmly and reassuringly but don't pick her up until she seems to be more used to you stroking her. Don't allow her to get away with trying to peck at you if she does try. (See below or above i.e. other reply! Lol! Sorry. I didn't see yours first. [​IMG]). Give her some treats as well so she associates the stroking with the treats. Yes.......... Blackmail! Lol! You'll also have to watch out for the others as they might get jealous, so make sure there is plenty for everyone.

    Read my novel in this post [​IMG], full of info. Good luck!

    About the tones/accents: Yes. They are unique to each chicken. Even my son who was only visiting could tell the difference between two of my WC Polish Roosters crows. When it comes to hens, there can be slight variations to each one, e.g. when they about to or have already laid an egg (some prefer to keep quiet about it) but, I'm also certain they have they own way of communicating with one another in chicken talk. They do make different sounds for each creature that approaches whether it be a large bird high in the sky, a plane, one of my dogs or cats (which they're not really worried about but still make a mild utterance about them) and they also have a specific call to let each other know when I'm approaching. They get quite excited. Probably hoping that I'm bringing some treats! Quite fascinating, actually!

    Chucklin' & Cluckin' Away! [​IMG]

    ChickyChooky [​IMG]
    Last edited: May 24, 2016
  5. Thanks for the advice. :)
  6. ChickyChooky

    ChickyChooky Out Of The Brooder

    That's ok. [​IMG]
  7. Lisa Wood

    Lisa Wood Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 6, 2016
    AIKEN, South Carolina
    I am experienced with some animals, but not chickens. I just got my three day old females last week. I don't know what I'm doing, but figured they don't know what they are missing till they try it. So, I caught each one individually, held them cupped in two hands, spoke to them, and the big thing is......rubbed thier little chicken heads with the growth of the feathers. My Goffin Cockatoo constantly asks us to do this, and he has a bald spot under his crest he also likes rubbed.
    So, I have six out of ten who now come running when they see my hand in the brooder. One of my favs, Anna Lisa, has started gently pecking at my fingers if I ignore her, but I am not discouraging her. These six fall asleep during their massage. I mean pass out cold. I swear I heard one purr like a kitten, but figured I was loosing what's left of my mind.

    Now I have to get the indifferent ones to like me. I really want the whole flock to Co E when called when they move outside.

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