How to make new pullets less skittish around me?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by TxAg11, May 18, 2017.

  1. TxAg11

    TxAg11 Chirping

    Jan 12, 2016
    Houston, TX
    We had a flock we had raised from chicks and they loved us and were constantly climbing all over us and visiting us whenever we are out in the yard. Then we had a dog-related disaster and our flock got rediced to 2, so to keep the 2 remaining girls company (AFTER I redesigned their enclosure to be 110% predator proof) we got 6 more pullets from a different breeder of the same age (2.5 months).

    So now we have this weird contrast of our original two who are happy-go lucky and love being held, and the other 6 that treat us like they would if we were a hawk. They run in terror, scream, and claw whenever I (gently) grab them. I have tried slowly approaching and gradually holding them but they are still suuuper tense and cannot get away fast enough. They were raised in pens with ~100 other pullets. Perfectly humane conditions, but not ideal.

    My questions are as follows, for those that have experience:
    1. Like dogs, will the new ones learn from my other two and eventually become more conditioned and friendly to me?

    2. What can I do to keep them from being terrified of me? My wife and I both work full-time and are both very active during the week and don't have hours and hours to sit around and hold pullets. Is there a special place where they like to be petted that will soothe them and build trust?

    Thanks in advance!
    rbnk1 likes this.
  2. Kyanite

    Kyanite Loving Life!

    May 27, 2016
    SE Idaho
    Sorry about the loss of your previous chickens. :(

    Chicks go through a stage of being terrified of anything and everything. My own hand raised and babied chicks are starting it right now. Any movement and they FREAK! It will pass. Keep providing for them on a schedule and don't push them. Chasing them around to catch them will just further their "I'm being chased by a predator!" instincts. I just try to remain calm and gentle around them, talk to them, and offer treats. They'll come around.
    rbnk1 likes this.
  3. aldarita

    aldarita Songster

    Aug 2, 2012
    Brenham TX
    I second kyanite, be very patient, don't make any fast movements or anything that could be perceived as a thread to them. Pullets get more docile when they get to point of lay. It takes a long time to gain their trust and even then, chickens are highly wired to run and scape that it is very hard to overcome that instinct.
    Good luck!
    rbnk1 likes this.
  4. SueT

    SueT Free Ranging

    May 27, 2015
    SW MO
    My I suggest, don't grab them. Don't even touch them. Just go sit with them, talk to them, give them treats. I had a scaredy-pullet that after 2 weeks of the above, jumped up on my shoulder! I was so thrilled.
    rbnk1 likes this.
  5. adstowe

    adstowe Songster

    Aug 8, 2016
    "My I suggest, don't grab them. Don't even touch them. Just go sit with them, talk to them, give them treats."
    This. I wouldn't try and pick them up. Go sit out there. Throw them some treats. Be calm and let them slowly get used to you. When they are ready for physical contact they'll touch you. If they're already scared, trying to force yourself on them will be counter productive. They have to get over viewing you as a threat. Then they have to associate you with good things (treats). It'll take time. Just spend some time with them when you can and don't rush them. They'll get there.
  6. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Crowing

    Nov 12, 2009
    western South Dakota
    time and patience. I agree with ^^ don't grab them, occasionally sit with them, move slowly but confidently with them. I am pretty busy, but occasionally, I just take a cup of coffee down with the girls.
  7. centrarchid

    centrarchid Free Ranging

    Sep 19, 2009
    Holts Summit, Missouri
    In addition to what is suggested above, put out a small pile of hay or straw an sprinkle large particulate eats like shell corn or meal worms among it and position yourself not to be looking at the birds work through it.
  8. azygous

    azygous Free Ranging

    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    All great advice, but to answer your question as to whether or not the new young ones will learn to trust you by observing your interactions with the older ones - yes they will.

    Continue your pleasant activities with your two oldest while the new ones look and observe. Chickens see other chickens enjoying the closeness and they will often want to try it, also. Not all are inclined to want to get up close and cuddly, though, but I guarantee some will.

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