Imprinting question from Newbie...!!

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Suellyn, Dec 28, 2008.

  1. Suellyn

    Suellyn Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 7, 2008
    SouthWestern PA
    What is the "window of opportunity" for imprinting? (How many hours/days before the opportunity is lost?)

    My goal: A few "pet quality" lap chickens for me and my girls (ages 7 & 4 yrs old), with added bonus of omelettes [​IMG] .

    First hatch attempt, viable eggs currently in incubator are: 4 white Silkies, 5 standard egg-laying "mixes" (poss "pures" of australorp, RIR, & leghorn), and 1 itsy-teeny Serama. Originally had 7 "mixes", but 2 "clear", discarded.

    Also, what are your thoughts & experiences with chicks that have imprinted on you? Did they remain human-oriented through adulthood? Did they make better "Pet Quality" lap chickens? Note: I know it is probably an "individual thing", but I mean IN GENERAL.

    Also, I know it is important to keep 'bator closed through-out hatching process, so eggs/chicks are not compromised by fluctuating humidity, BUT does that mean you will lose critical bonding/imprinting with some of them, if left in 'bator for, say, 48 hours before interacting with humans???

    Input, please???? Thank you SO much!! (Might sound like a "minor concern", but I really want these chicks/chickens to work out well in our "suburban with small children" lives, want to do what I can to help insure that they will. Thanks!!!!!
  2. TreeFever

    TreeFever Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 17, 2008
    Not totally certain about imprinting, but I can tell you that the way to a chickens heart is treats [​IMG]
    If you feed them while holding them or having them sit on you, they will associate with a tasty snack!
  3. Suellyn

    Suellyn Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 7, 2008
    SouthWestern PA
    Thanks!! Will definitely get lots of "hand-feeding", treats, & interaction, but am really curious about the "imprinted vs. non-imprinted" pet quality of a chicken.... [​IMG]
  4. silkiechicken

    silkiechicken Staff PhD Premium Member

    They don't really imprint like ducks do. Shoot... I've seen baby chicks run to a different mom if she was the one with the treats! Just lots of treats and handling will do it.
  5. chookchick

    chookchick Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 18, 2008
    Olympia WA
    I have heard that most of the imprinting takes place in the first few days. Which makes sense as they need to figure out who "mommy" is. I would handle them gently and spend a lot of time with them during this period. I got my chicks at about 2 weeks old and they had definitely not been handled--they were wild! Even though I spent a lot of time with them, lots of treats, they still do not like to be picked up, though they will jump on my knee. Need to work on it some more....
  6. Suellyn

    Suellyn Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 7, 2008
    SouthWestern PA
    I thought most "ground nesting" birds imprinted. ??

    Anyway, I'm sure they will get spoiled rotten from the minute they are taken out of the incubator, and turn out to be good pets, but was just really curious to hear from others if it made an obvious difference or not.

    I recently read speculation that some imprinting may start to occur just BEFORE hatch, too (!!) hearing Mama, & other chicks peeping, I guess. I don't think I'll go so far as to sing to the eggies [​IMG] , and anyway, with my voice ( [​IMG] ) they would probably opt not to pip............ EVER!!!!!!!
  7. alpinefarm

    alpinefarm Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 6, 2008
    Western Colorado
    I'm nearing hatching and I also have been wondering about imprinting. I have learned in the past to be slow-moving and patient as I reach for and offer treats to my chicks. I tend to be hyper and quick, so I have to be conscious of not scaring them, being more deliberate when I work with them. It is a good lesson for children to learn, too, to not hurry or force affection on chicks, but let them grow accustomed gently.

    I have to make another confession here! I talk to my eggs...and I play piano for them! I think that in a coop or wild situation, the eggs have a lot of interesting noises around them, so I try to give them something pleasant to think about while they are sitting there!

    Who knew hatching eggs could be so fun?
  8. texasbartrambaby

    texasbartrambaby Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 3, 2008
    Tulia, Texas
    I've wondered about imprinting too. My ee's could care less about being handled and they are a month old now. The kids (I have 4) take them in the house and play but they aren't lovers. What kinds of treats does everyone feed them???
  9. Suellyn

    Suellyn Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 7, 2008
    SouthWestern PA
    Maybe just for fun & for "experimentations sake" I will come up with some sort of noise, something really recognizable like a whistle or a dog "clicker" (you know, like they use for training) & will expose the eggs to the sound of it for the last few days of incubation. Will see if they "respond" to it after they hatch. ?? Would be interesting.
  10. The Chicken Lady

    The Chicken Lady Moderator Staff Member

    Apr 21, 2008
    West Michigan
    I'm sure they would. I know broody hens cluck to their eggs while they're sitting.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by