I found out the value of clicker training my chickens this past month

azygous

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Dec 11, 2009
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For all of you who are still chasing down your chickens to round them up to put them in the coop each night or going through the frustration of trying to collect a chicken to treat them for something, I'd like to point out the value and ease of clicker training. It's so easy and simple, a four-year old could do it.

The reason why I'm so grateful I took the time, which is minimal, to clicker train my chickens is that I've had the dubious distinction of coming down with two different strains of flu inside of thirty days. That's twice this past month that I could barely drag myself outside to see to my chickens.

I let them free range for a number of reasons, one being that the bears are still not out from hibernation so the chickens are still reasonably safe being out from behind a hot wire. The sun was going down, and I wanted to be sure they all got in, so I dragged myself out of bed, grabbed the clicker, clicked the thing, and all twenty-two chickens were at my feet inside of five seconds. Like the pied piper, they then followed me right into the run. It's a sight to behold, especially if you're so sick you wish you were dead.

How do you clicker train chickens? First buy a clicker. I got mine for a buck at PetSmart. The rest is so simple, no kidding, your four-year old could train them. First click the clicker and then throw some scratch grain at them or their favorite treat. That's it. You can also easily train baby chicks in the brooder this way.

Do this every time you offer scratch grain or whatever their favorite treat is. Every time. Keep this up for a few weeks to be absolutely certain your chickens are brainwashed, I mean, trained. You won't regret it.
 

azygous

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This is sort of an old thread, but I wanted to update it with an anecdote of what occurred just tonight with my newest chicks.

They are just turning six weeks old and have been living in the coop for around one week, graduating from being brooded under a heating pad in the run. I clicker trained them when they were less than two weeks old, and I've been using that to call them into their coop at night.

I thought I had gotten them all settled on the perch, and I turned out the light and said goodnight. I sort of guessed it would be 50/50 if they remained since there were still chickens poking around in the run, and chicks are nothing if not curious about what their elders are up to.

It was nearly dark when I checked on them, and I was somewhat surprised to find all four in the main coop. But it made sense since the main coop had one large window so it was better lighted than their coop, which was already too dark to see to roost.

This is where clicker training was priceless. Instead of trying to gather up the chicks and carry them to their coop, I went around back to their coop, got inside, and clicked out the signal for them to come. And come they did on their tiny little legs. I had the light on, and they all hopped up onto their perch like good little girls. No mess no fuss.

Tomorrow I will put the light on a timer so they will have light if they decide to go back out to investigate any straggler adult chickens after I think they're bedded down for the night.

Clicker training is one of the most valuable things you can do to manage your flock. I highly recommend it. By the way, it's far more convenient than using a treat container because seeing a clicker does not automatically get you mobbed.
 

K0k0shka

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What a fun way to describe it :lol: Did you give them a treat after they came running to their coop? Do they protest a lot if you click but don't give them a treat? Or do you basically always have to have a treat to use the clicker?
 

azygous

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I always reinforce the clicker training with a treat, but when I need to repeat it in such a short period, no, they did not get any treat the second time. The reason is, the training had just previously been reinforced and needed none so soon after.

Rewarding too often in a short period makes it about the treats and not about the clicker signal to come. Do not think for a second that chickens won't catch onto that as a way to get treats. They may be bird-brained, but never underestimate their ability to manipulate their human.
 

MANNA-PRO

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