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Interacting With My Chickens

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Disa, Jan 25, 2013.

  1. Disa

    Disa In the Brooder

    Jan 7, 2013
    I acquired my 7 and 8 month old hens about 3 weeks ago from a guy who just likes to raise chicks but doesn't like messing with chickens. I suppose he's like me and felines...I like kittens but I don't like cats! :)

    Anyway, the young adult birds were kept in a very nice large coop and enclosed run; but other than feeding and watering times, had very little interaction with their owner. Naturally, it was a bit of a chore to catch them when I selected them out of his flock and now that they're at my house, they shy away whenever I'm around them.

    Admittedly, these girls are not pets; they're livestock with an egg laying responsibility. They won't be sitting in my lap, walking through the living room wear a diaper or anything like that, but I understand the need to check them for pests or injuries regularly as part of my responsible animal ownership and I want to do that.

    I was able to pet one that happened to be in the nesting box while I was checking for eggs one day...for just an instant..before she hopped out...but overall...they're not interested in having ANY interaction with me! Noooo thank you! To them, I am the Bringer of Food and Water and She That Opens and Closes The Coop Door. That's it!

    Is there anything I can do to encourage that or will it always be this way?


  2. AlienChick

    AlienChick Songster

    Apr 9, 2010
    Glasgow, KY
    To get them 'friendlier' towards you, be the person they WANT to run up to! (ALWAYS carry treats with you.)
    I have a large bag of scratch grains that I can grab a handful whenever I need the chickens to come running to me.
    Any treat will do: bananas, table scraps, strawberries, etc... whatever your chickens seem to love best.

    If you have difficulty catching them to check them for parasites, just do it at night when they can't see.
    Use a flashlight if you have to.
  3. my sunwolf

    my sunwolf Songster

    Apr 22, 2012
    Southwest Virginia
    My Coop
    All of this is perfect advice [​IMG] Exactly what I did with my adopted girls. Some still run away when I try to pet them, but all come running when I have food, and I can catch any of them by throwing some scratch on the ground and sneaking up behind them.
  4. Disa

    Disa In the Brooder

    Jan 7, 2013
    Treats! Makes perfect sense.

    And I think part of it has been I've been afraid to let them out of their tractor run..even when I'm right here...until they know that's the place to go for safety. We have hawks.

    It's been almost a month, so I think this weekend we'll let them out of the run and free range in the yard for a bit...I'm going to be building a raised bed right near there anyway.
  5. Hi Disa - Don't know if this will make you feel better or worse but this is my experience - I have had chickens for three years now, got our first chicks
    as day olds from Meyer Hatchery - we didn't get them as 'pets', like you we wanted good egg producers - we ordered 17 barred rocks and they messed up the order and we got 50 - yes 50 - and had only 'prepared' for 17. We had done our 'research' but had NEVER before had chickens so we got thrown into the chicken keeping 'deep end of the pool' - ended up loving the whole experience.

    Fast forward and we've branched out into having 7 various Heritage Breeds now as well as numerous Easter Eggers, we incubate and hatch our eggs, sell our eggs at the local farmer's market during the season and I raise baby chicks from day one, grow them out and sell them as started and POL pullets which, in my area of the country - is very profitable. Even if it wasn't, I just love them so much, everything about them that I would do it even if I made nothing.

    At this time I have 50 adult chickens and 41 pullets that I've raised since day one and have already sold but as part of the sale will continue to grow out for the buyer until she picks them up mid March.

    Point is that my chickens - all raised by me since they hatched - don't REALLY like me - what they do is 'seem to tolerate' my presence 'in their world', are wary of me and my 'not-chickeness' but I can set up my folding chair in their huge and secure coop/covered run ( the size of a small house ) that my husband built for them because I get so much pleasure from them - and I watch 'chicken TV' and have more laughs than ever had watching regular tv. Their social structure and interactions with each other are so interesting - they are truly amazing as well as endlessly entertaining.

    Oh yes, I almost forgot the egg part - that's fantastic too! My breeds
    all lay variously colored eggs which I sell at the farmer's mkt as my
    'Rainbow Dozen'. The eggs my 'girls' lay are so unique and gorgeous with their own 'patinas' and patterns ( unique to the hen that lays it and she will always lay it the same every time! ) that my egg customers often tell me "they are so pretty they don't even look real!" I specialize in raising breeds that lay eggs that have the 'wow' factor. Then they ask me, "What kind of chicken lays the eggs that look like Easter Eggs?" I answer, "Easter Eggers". lol

    The chickens come up to me, peck at my jewelry ( have learned not to wear earrings during chicken tv or could lose an earlobe! - not because they are mean but because they peck and pick at everything ), pull on my clothes, walk all around and behind my chair, sometimes one or two will hop up on my lap and settle in but if I try to pet her ( wouldn't allow a Roo to get on me - too big and have those large spurs ) she jumps right down. The Roos and the pullets/hens come up and stare at me, often cocking their heads to the side as if they are contemplating what I am and 'examining' me. Their stare is do deep and intense that I often wonder what is going through their
    little heads - what are they thinking?

    I agree with the 'treat' angle though and my chickens always come running toward me when I come into 'their house' to see if I brought them something other than their normal top notch layer pellets and fresh water. I have a hanging basket dangling from the slats leading into the nestbox in which I frequently place whole cabbages, huge armfuls of marigold plants and flowers, tall grasses, spent but still green garden veg plants, etc. and they have a blast eating on it all day long. Whole overripe tomatoes are also a favorite!!!

    Another huge favorite is whole pumpkins in the fall ( I even go around to local businesses after Thanksgiving and ask if I can have their pumpkins they've used as decoration - most are glad to get them carted off!) In summer they hanker for whole watermelons which they

    finish off in a matter [​IMG]

    of hours - same with the whole pumpkins.

    Pumpkin seeds also contain a natural wormer in them.


    I rarely actually catch and 'examine' any of my birds. I practice numerous 'preventive' methods with my birds and have found from experience and
    spending much time observing their 'normal' behaviors and interactions, habits, etc. that I am acutely tuned in when I note that something isn't
    quite right with one or more of them - then I can intervene. If a chicken has mites they will usually be scratching a lot and shaking around.

    I save fruit, veggie and bread scraps from our kitchen and take it to them in bread bags - they will literally grab and wrench the whole bag out of my
    hand the moment I open the door of the coop - it's so funny.

    I too have hawks and many potentially predators so do not allow my birds to be pastured although I would like to do so - until can have a secure 6 foot
    fence built around our pasture it just isn't safe for them.

    I just want my birds to 'be birds' and get pleasure from observing them as they go about their 'chickenness' and appreciate that they 'allow' me to join
    them in their house and be a part of it all. Another thing that has surprised me about chickens is that they are so much like 'indoor' pet birds.
    I used to have parakeets and I find that my poultry LOVE the ramps and other 'structures' I have placed in their coop and run areas. They climb
    and 'play' on them just like parakeets - it's wild to watch. I also use large fallen tree limbs from around our farm as natural roosts for them and they
    enjoy those as well.

    Good luck with your 'new' birds and with letting them out this weekend.

    Last edited: Jan 25, 2013
  6. WalkingOnSunshine

    WalkingOnSunshine Crowing

    Apr 8, 2008
    It take a lot of work and interaction to get chickens to act like lap birds, and even then, if you don't keep the interaction level super high, they'll sort of go back to being regular chickens after a while. My birds come running to me looking for treats, but they sure don't want to be touched. They'll peck at my shoes and my pant legs, but move away if I move suddenly. They'll flap a bit if I catch one, and will move away if I try to touch one. This is sort of default level for a chicken that's not afraid of you. You haven't done anything wrong, they're just being chickens.
  7. AlienChick

    AlienChick Songster

    Apr 9, 2010
    Glasgow, KY
    Also, some breeds are generally more friendly than others.
    I have a little d'Uccle hen that comes looking for me whenever I'm outside and she'll first stand around my feet making her cute little chirping sounds.
    If I don't pick her up, she'll just fly up into my arms.
    She likes to be held ALWAYS and this is not something that I trained her to do.
    It's actually annoying because I have work to do, but she won't leave me alone.
    So I spoil her by holding her in one hand while filling up water bowls with the other.

  8. NorthernMama

    NorthernMama In the Brooder

    I have to be the trickster. When I need to catch my girls for something - like putting goop on their waddles/combs because we've been getting -34c weather the past few weeks - I have to be sneakier. They'll run & hide under the coop where they know I can't/won't crawl to fetch them, and I go into the coop. WELL - all of a sudden everyone wants to know why I"m in there & follows me up. Haha. Then 1 by 1 I can scoop 'em up and slather them w/o too much struggle. Treats work really well too.
  9. Disa

    Disa In the Brooder

    Jan 7, 2013
    This weekend I let the girls free-range a bit outside their coop and run. Lordy, did they have a ball. First of all they found the dirt floor in the lean too and dust bathed for 30 minutes or so. Hilarious. Then they pecked around in the pea gravel floor of the workshop...getting extra grit I suppose...followed by much running around and flapping around. I kept some scratch with me and offered it to them off and on. After a couple of hours, they were fine to be walking around my feet and me among them. Nobody was happy with me reaching out to pet them, but that was the only time they would run off.

    We'll do more of this and hopefully, it will get to the point I can pet or pick them up without them running off.

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