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How to socialize/tame a timid hen?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by sillychicks123, Aug 8, 2013.

  1. sillychicks123

    sillychicks123 Out Of The Brooder

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    I have just rescued this hen today from a local shelter that was going to euthanize her, and she is absolutely gorgeous. The only thing is, is that she is extremely timid, and if you go to pick her up, she will skreetch on the top of her longs and do anything she can to get away from me. I can understand that it takes time for these things to heal, but I was wondering what are some good ways to earn her trust? I am unfortunately going away for a week, so I wont be able to work with her for a while. Will this make things worse, or is it good for her to settle down and take a week off from being handled? [​IMG]
    Heres a pick. Also, what do you think would be some good names for her/what is her breed? And one more thing, do you think that with over time she could become docile and easy to handle? or is it really difficult to break a habit like hers?
     
  2. Whittni

    Whittni Overrun With Chickens

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    The thing that will help this hen out most is consistency. People should feed her, people should treat her and never make loud noises around her or chase her to build trust for at least the first few months of owning her. Seeing as she is a shelter bird you don't know her past and what may or may not a happened to her, nor what she has seen happen. I think she'll be fine with you gone for a week but just be gentle with her and trust will eventually be established.
     
  3. sumi

    sumi Égalité Staff Member

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    She is gorgeous! And very lucky that you came along when you did :) What chicken needs now is time, love, patience and some company of her own kind. I had a similar experience with hen, this is what worked for us: I rescued her a few months ago and apart from being fed now and then she never saw people and had very, very little contact with them. She went completely crazy the first few times we handled her, screaming and screaming, she was terrified and it was awful for both of us. Since her rescue was so unexpected and we were about to move house, I had to keep her in 3x3 ft cage for awhile, while we sorted out a better living arrangements. I spent a lot of time with her, sometimes just talking to her, or moving her cage around outside so she can get greens and putting soil in there for her dust baths and feeding her treats along with her regular food. She got used to me over time and realised I wasn't going to harm her and after awhile she started talking to me when she saw me and let me scratch her chest through the cage mesh. We eventually got her some proper accommodation and 2 more hens for company and she settled in and was quite happy. One evening I went I went to close them up and she walked up to me started talking, I sat down and waited to see what she wants and she jumped on my lap and settled down there. I've kept chickens for years now, but that, I must say, was one of the nicest experiences I've had with them so far. I didn't think I'd ever completely win her trust.

    What also helped with her (and the the 2 new hens I got) is I wait until it gets dark and she's relaxed and sleepy and on her roost. I walk right up to her talk to her and scratch her back a little bit. Try that with your hen, once she's used to and more comfortable with you. Show her you are a friend, is not going to hurt her. But take it slow and be patient and remember: treats, treats and more treats. Let her associate you with good things. That always helps! Good luck with her!
     
    1 person likes this.
  4. One Chick Two

    One Chick Two Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 13, 2013
    Beautiful girl. She is so lucky to find a loving home with you. The others have given terrific advice. I agree that it would be good to give her a few healthy friends to cluck around with. And even better for you if they are people tolerant as birds often learn from each other. Newcomers ideally should be quarantined for possible spreadable illnesses like scaly leg mites, and body mites or other issues before taking them home if you can, or you might have to treat multiple chickens.

    We have 80 birds- and all but two (including roos) are very friendly (we handled them from day 1). I do consistently still work with the more timid birds- at least 3 times a day for at least 10 minutes. I do this when calm and unrushed to build trust. In our case, we give them treats at other times than "loving' time" because I find they often are active, unruly and excitable- less likely to want affection when the prospect of eating is happening (I want affection time to be a relaxing and positive experience for them). Other people prefer snacks to tame birds, but, I prefer to use that as a last resort when possible if I really need to bribe- it's just my personal preference. Consistency and patience is key.

    How I do this is, I sit quietly in their pen (before feeding time) and speak gently (letting them get used to my voice) ideally let them come to me to sit on my lap, jump on my shoulder, fly on head, preen my "feathers," etc. They are naturally inquisitive and curious by nature, and grow more comfortable and confident when feeling safe and secure in their environment, so I don't chase or scoop up anyone who appears cranky or upset at that time. You could also place a small treat like some cut apple in your hand or on your knee to entice her if desired. But, I always make sure they are happy, relaxed and quiet by the time they are put back down. Just don't give up, she needs to realize she is always safe and happy with you.

    When I know the bird feels comfortable, I might gently pick them up, and tuck them under my chin, VERY softly stroking their little ear muff area (most birds like this), or, slowly stroke hollows of the shoulder blades while speaking in gentle tones. If I feel sudden resistance, I say softly, "Shhh…" They almost always stop fussing to hear what I'm saying. (Works even on the roos). I feel for them to relax by dropping into my hand or leg, and I know they are going to relax there for awhile. Good luck!
    [​IMG]
     
    1 person likes this.
  5. sillychicks123

    sillychicks123 Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 11, 2013
    Thank you for the good advice! I have worked with her a tad today, and got her to eat out of my hand a couple of times, but she is still very timid. I have three other chickens, two polish and one silkie who are VERY docile. Infact, I still have to lift them up into the hen house each night to close them up! Tonight I sat down in the corner of their run and they came up into my lap and fell asleep, fighting over who got to be closest to me!! I felt so bad when I had to get up and leave them! [​IMG]
     
  6. One Chick Two

    One Chick Two Chillin' With My Peeps

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    sillychicks123, Great photo!
    I am so happy for you that your beautiful Silkie and Polish came to relax and bond. And that is the BEST news that your Lovely ate from your hand. Good first step. It won't be long and she'll relax. It was good to hear that you have three other friendly and docile flockmates- she'll probably end up ruling the roost. lol

    Sometimes, when I have our small, most timid pullets around, I cut some apple or watermelon open (peach, etc.) and hold it in my thumb and middle finger (keeping other fingers tucked away) and hold it while they peck away at their treat. They rarely get my fingers (usually by accident) but I sometimes sneak in a light back stroking during the treat to get them used to touch. Or, I very gently cup (under) their craw with the other hand and they will usually start to put heir weight on my hand as they get used to handling. As soon as they realize they like handling, you can't keep them away. lol It's trust and bonding. Let us know what happens.
     

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