Is it too late to start holding my chickens?


In the Brooder
Jul 29, 2016
Pittsburgh, Pa
I have three chickens, we held them when they were chicks but only one actually enjoyed it. Once they went into the coop/run we no longer interact with them by petting them or holding them.
We open the door to the run to give them treats and we are all a bit afraid of them... They seem to want to peck at us and it hurts.
Through your experience do you think sitting in the run area with them everyday they will get used to us again and they will eventually allow us to hold them???
I love sitting and watching them interact, but I've been doing my observing from the outside of the run.
Thank you for your advice!!!


Sep 2, 2014
NE Ohio
Hi Erin,

The more you interact with them the more they get used to you. I don't sit in the run with my chickens but when they see me 100 ft away coming toward them they all crowd up the door. They associate me with treats, food and protection, most of the time I actually have to kick (shoo) them out of the way so I can walk in. When I reach down, a few of them actually jumps either on my arm or shoulders. It was not always that way until point of lay, they became more tamed and friendly. When they were10-17 weeks most are afraid of me, like am a hawk ready to eat them. Majority allows me to pick them up except 3 (out of 30 chickens)that were always been aloof but comes when I call them. How old are your chickens?


5 Years
Jul 4, 2014
Agreed, it's not too late, just have patience with them. They will get used to you. Treats are the best way to win them over and allowing them to come to you instead of trying to catch them will help them learn to trust you. When they do get near you, try using the back of your hand to touch them under their neck and their chest area. This is less threatening to them then hands (looking similar to jaws or talons from their perspective) reaching down to grab them. If they move away, let them. They'll come back to you and you can try again. Also try going into their coop after dark and handling them. They can't see at night but this will give you the opportunity to show them that you're not going to hurt them if you pick them up and talking to them will help them recognize you when it's daylight. They may never reach a point when they're actually willing to be picked up but they won't be so quick to run away either and some are happy to climb onto your lap on their own accord if you let them.
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In the Brooder
Jul 29, 2016
Pittsburgh, Pa
When you all give them treats from your hand do they peck it right off your hand? Do you wear gloves? I did it once and it hurt pretty bad... I sound like such a baby, I'm really not!!!


Scarborough Fair
Premium Feather Member
Jul 3, 2016
WA, Pac NW
My Coop
My Coop
My girls love mealworms but they're only allowed to have them if they take them from my hands. Yes it can be a little painful if they get too enthusiastic but I don't find it problematic as I've never been hurt by the pecking. I know they're not doing it to hurt me, they're just wanting to get at the worms as fast as they can.

I don't wear gloves as I want to be able to touch the birds and enjoy the feel of their feathers.

Out of curiosity why did you decide to stop interacting with them once they were outside? I couldn't imagine having animals I was afraid of touching, that just doesn't seem very enjoyable to me, though I consider mine as pets so I've always had an expectation of being able to touch them.

Little Fuzzy

Jan 16, 2016
All of my chickens are too friendly. One is very jealous whenever I pick up another. Never let the chickens sit on your shoulder though, they will peck you in your eye, as I and my niece discovered. They react to the shinnines of your eyeball. As they get used to you they will quit pecking at you. I trained my herd of girls to come to a bell. I free range my girls and where ever they are in my large yard, if they hear the bell they come running. Makes it real easy to put them up any time you need to.


6 Years
Nov 4, 2013
Central Texas
Some are more gentle than others. I have one who enjoys taking one treat at a time from my hand and one who can draw blood if I'm not fast enough. If you pull away just a little, they may try harder to get the treats and that could hurt. That could also result in them not wanting the treats anymore because they're a little scared.
They may be frightened by gloves if they've never seen them. Gloves will quickly get in your way.

EDIT: In your case, it may be best to start without bringing treats. Just sit with them. Talk softly to yourself and otheriwse ignore them. They will eventually get curious and feel safer approaching. They're sort of like cats that way. It may take a long time, but when one decides it's safe the others usually follow the lead.
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In the Brooder
Dec 5, 2016
Melbourne, Australia
Hi, it's been a few months since you posted, so I hope your chickens have become friendlier. I am learning too (just started keeping chickens) and have found so far that time spent with them is the most valuable thing. I try to balance my training time with just sitting with them, just letting them be chickens. They are adorable and so much fun to watch :)

I found some good advice to stroke gently on their backs with some pressure... They sit down when you do that, submitting as if to a rooster.

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