HOW TO MANAGE A FLOCK - Interesting Read...

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Davaroo, Jul 4, 2008.

  1. Davaroo

    Davaroo Poultry Crank

    Feb 4, 2007
    Leesville, SC
    Gentleness Affects Egg Yield

    Probably few things work so much against the well being of the fowls as excitement, due to rough handling or to fear from any cause. At no time should the fowls be unnecessarily excited. Often the entrance of a dog or a cat or visitors in the pens will disturb the fowls, so these should be kept out as much as possible. Fowls on free range are not so likely to be disturbed because they get around and see the world more.

    At all times the attendant should avoid making sudden motions, calling loudly, or otherwise startling the fowls. He should always control his temper and try to govern even the most annoying fowls without force. It is desirable to enter the pens as quietly as possible and even to presage entrance by making some noise such as low whistling, so the hens will know that he is approaching.

    When it is necessary to carry some unfamiliar object among the flock, this should be done gradually. Even the wearing of a different style of suit than usual, especially if this is of some gaudy color, will disturb the fowls until they are accustomed to it.

    Hens, especially laying hens, become attached to their quarters. They, therefore, should not be unnecessarily moved because this also affects the laying, whether from homesickness or what is purely speculative, but the fact is the egg yield often suffers.

    Where it is absolutely necessary to make a change, this should be done with the least possible disturbance, preferably by driving the fowls gently to the new quarters. When hens must be handled or carried, this should always be done at night and the fowls should be held gently with the hand beneath the breast; never by the feet. No more than two fowls should be carried at a time in this way -- one under each arm. If a considerable number must be moved at a time, they must be placed in coops and so carried.
    - - M.G. Kains, "Profitable Poultry Production."

    This was written (and offered here as information) in the context of good and/or increased egg production. Mr. Kains was doing well with chickens a long time ago (this from 1916) and knew what he was talking about. He didn't have any modern methods or conveniences to cloud his decisions and he didn't overthink things.

    SO I wonder, how many of you chickeners here treat your birds this way? How many stay away from them as much as possible, leaving them alone for the most part? Are you conscious of your movements, your speech and even your appearance among them? What about the children? How many refrain from picking them up except at night?
    I was a little surprised when I first read this and it was something of an eye opener - it's a viewpoint not too often seen.
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2008
  2. ninjapoodles

    ninjapoodles Sees What You Did There

    May 24, 2008
    Central Arkansas
    It's pretty much how we move among them, but it's not so much from a deliberate decision to be that way as it is just instinctive from years and years of living with other animals, dogs and horses. After a while, minimizing stress is just something that comes naturally, because to do otherwise is always ultimately harmful, if only in the wasting of time. (By which I mean, time spent calming an upset animal is always much longer than time invested in refraining from upsetting that animal on the front end of the exchange.)
  3. BearSwampChick

    BearSwampChick Chicken Sensei

    Jan 10, 2008
    Marysville, OH
    Quote:Dang it, I guess DH can't wear his loud Hawaiian shirts out there anymore! [​IMG]
  4. JennsPeeps

    JennsPeeps Rhymes with 'henn'

    Jun 14, 2008
    South Puget Sound
    How many refrain from picking them up except at night?

    Well, if they'd stop jumping in my lap, the darn critters!

    My banty, who is very leery of my cats but getting used to them, put out her first alert call today. We'd never heard it before. DBF came over to check out what was going on. Pretty funny to hear her do a full on "cluck". My cat (from avatar) was sitting under some bushes, minding his own business & she let him know that she was POd.​
  5. crooked stripe

    crooked stripe Songster

    Jan 14, 2008
    N.E Ohio- Suffield
    JennsPeeps said it very well. If they would stop chasing me around looking for treats I could sneak up on them. No matter what I am doing they are right there at my feet. They even chase after the tractor looking for bugs when cutting the grass. I was changing out a motor on a tractor last week and they would sit on the steering wheel and seat watching me. Impact wrench didn't even scare them away. They are a blast. Best pets I ever had. John
  6. chickenannie

    chickenannie Songster

    Nov 19, 2007
    Treating animals with gentleness (moving slowly around them, not raising your voice or yelling at them, not shoving or hitting them, etc) makes a huge difference in the way they behave. My friends have livestock, but their farm is a "humanely treated animal" farm and it's unbelievable how calm and content their animals are. I never knew a cow's natural personality was so calm -- at their place, the cows (even the young ones) meander over to the people, practically begging to be scratched behind the ears. Makes sense that it would hold true for chickens as well.
  7. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    I think actually a lot of people here DO follow that rule, just by different methods.

    I mean, the general idea is to minimize stress to the birds -- have them not get all afraid or even just weirded out. One way to do that is to leave them alone as much as possible and avoid (as much as you can) introducing any stressful element into the henhouse. This is what your book is espousing.

    The other way, though, which accomplishes just the same thing, is to get them USED to the things that would otherwise be stressful (having people around doin' stuff, being caught and held, etcetera). A program of systematic desensitization, if one wants to be polysyllabic about it.

    The second way does NOT seem very practical for a large commercial operation. They not gonna be payin' extra people to wander around catching and holding and petting the chickens as insurance against the relatively few times the birds will *have* to be handled [​IMG] Anyhow it would be awfully hard to do that anyhow in a great big commercial (old-style, loose housing) building anyhow. Same with other potential stressors.

    However it is simple for the backyarder, having oodles of time and not many chickens. And (probably very importantly) usually giving the birds a whole big lot of human exposure and handling since Day 1 of life. In fact the average backyard person would actually find it more *difficult* to do the leave-them-alone approach, I expect, because really how many of us have our coops situated where we can always wear the same clothes, avoid loud noises, no lawn tractors or kids near the run, never pick the chickens up during the day, etcetera etcetera.

    I think both ways amount to pretty much the same thing though: Don't Upset the Chickens [​IMG]

    Pat, who was quite amazed, and thrilled to pieces, to have one of the now-9-wk-old buff chantecler chicks hop up on my knee of his/her own volition last night as I sat there on my chair. Well, actually he/she looked inquiringly at me (like "why are you petting that other chicken on your lap [one I'd caught to hold so my 4 yr old could pat him]?") and I patted my other knee and he/she hopped right up like he had been doing it since forever. Appropriately, this one's name is "Friendly". I seriously hope it's a hen [​IMG]
  8. WestKnollAmy

    WestKnollAmy The Crazy Chicken Lady

    Apr 22, 2008
    upstate SC
    Well, our egg layers are free range but I think before I got them they had always been penned up. As we are growing and expanding coops, we often run the electric saw and drill. The hens haven't backed off laying and the cooped chicks are very familiar with the sound since it is usually 5-10 ft away. We started slow so not to scare them but they really have done well.
    However, if DH goes into the coop, even in his dark blue clothes the chicks are frightened. Me and DD get mobbed by the heathens so we know we aren't scaring them. I wear all colors of clothing and we even yell between the coops and the house, 250 ft away.
    The Silkie chicks seem to frighten easier than the other breeds so we are slower and quieter around them on purpose. They stay in a separate end of the barn.

    Now if I could just get the blasted chickens to get out of the way of the truck that would be great but even honking the horn doesn't seem to bother them. Most of the time we have to get out and place them in the bed for a ride. Rotten creatures![​IMG]
  9. Beekissed

    Beekissed Free Ranging

    We were running the saw in the henhouse a couple of weeks ago and couldn't get Fanny to stay out! She kept coming in to "inspect" our work...even got up on the roost to be able to see better! We don't handle our chickens any more than we have to but they seem to like to be near us when we are working in the yard. Maybe, as freerangers, they tend to be acclimated to noise and movements.
    The other day, when they were still in jail for garden protection, the rooster got out of the fence. My sons were trying to chase him into the fence and having little success. They finally came in and told me what had happened. I gave them a piece of bread, told them to open the gate, walk in and say "Chick, chick, chick!" and throw some bread on the ground. The rooster followed them eagerly into the gate as I knew he would. My guys always have to do things the hard way! I agree that animals need the quiet, sure way of handling to insure good health and quiet temperaments.
  10. warren

    warren Songster

    Sep 29, 2007
    How do I stop my hens from causing me stress? My DH is always looking out of the window and telling me that my 3 year old is ballancing on the fence and is going to land with a bump if I don't rush out imediately and rescue her. I do try to rescue her but get a wing in my face and scratches all along my arms. One young one landed on my head today but could not get a grip and slipped onto my back. Too much hair conditioner must have made my head slippery. lol
    Seriously, quiet is good for any animal and people too.

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