My chickens aren't very kind......HELP!

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by chikenlover123, Nov 24, 2010.

  1. chikenlover123

    chikenlover123 Out Of The Brooder

    Sep 12, 2009
    Hey! [​IMG]

    I have a whole group of chickens of different breeds, both hens and roosters. About 90% of the chickens hatched from eggs layed by one or two of my current hens. Only about 1 of my hens is sociable. I can never hold any of my chickens, or even touch them without them freaking out and running away. They're very skittish. I've tried spending more time with them, giving them treats, and i let them out of the pen almost everyday to eat grass and play in the dirt.

    I always see pictures on here of people holding their chickens, and I'm left wondering how they do that! haha. Any suggestions on how to make my chickens more sociable and less skittish? Thank you!!!!!!!
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2010
  2. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Chicken Obsessed

    Nov 12, 2009
    western South Dakota
    I don't like to hold my hens, and I would never want a roo that close to my face. Mine walk around my feet that that is enough for me. A way to calm them down is to sit out there with them and just watch them with a cup of coffee. Mine are pretty calm around me.

    However, it might be the kind you have, some are more flighty than others. mk
  3. BrewedInNh

    BrewedInNh Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 11, 2010
    Southern NH
    It's a metter of trust for them, and a matter of occasional necessity for us. Eventually you'll need to handle them for health care, etc. It's best if you can do that with as little stress as possible for all invovled.

    I have to disagree with Mrs. K about sitting and watching them early on. They're suspicious by nature, and they instinctively know that preditors will sit still watching them for a vulnerable opportunity. To prey animals, if you're not paying attention to them then you're probably not a threat.

    Our chickens were a bit nervous when we first moved them out to the coop. We intentionally spent time doing chores in their presence, ignoring them the whole time. Try to move in a slow calm manner, but don't tip-toe around them. After a few occasions of this they settled down and became curious about us and our activities. Now they're under foot half the time. [​IMG] They love to 'help' whenever we're working in the yard.

    Also, like a lot of animals, they might be picking up on your energy. If you're excited, or anxious around them they might be reluctant to get too close to you.

    One exception to the above was when each approached their point-of-lay. They each got stand-offish for about a week prior to laying their first egg. Now they all come running to squat for 'scratchies' when they see us.
  4. PamB

    PamB Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 20, 2010
    Dayville, CT
    Our chickens are pets and we got them for that purpose. We've always spent time with them in their run every day. We didn't do anything on purpose to make them want to be held and sit on our laps, they just always have been that way. We can't spend time with them without them wanting to nap on us (See below pic..haha). They are silkies though, I've heard these are calmer than many breeds, so it may just be the breed in our case.
  5. Oscgrr

    Oscgrr Out Of The Brooder

    May 14, 2010
    Cape Cod
    I don't care very much to pick up my chickens. I'm not fond of getting pooped on and they don't seem to mind when or where they go but I do want to be able to pick them up if I need too. This being my first flock, I didn't know how to get them to relax around me and not see me as a threat and every time I tried to get near one it took off and went somewhere I couldn't reach. I got frustrated and just gave up and ignored them. I was still working on the coop and run so I was often in with them, painting or installing hardware or putting finishing touches on this or that and soon enough, I had an audience. If I dropped a screw or a nail, I had to wrestle it away from a chicken (I always won and nobody ever ate any screws). I ignored them and they started to compete for my attention. It's at the point where I can't go into the run without a couple of them trying to jump up onto my shoulders and forget about it if I should bend over, I get at least three of them on my back. They get in my way and it's all I can do to keep from tripping over or stepping on them. I guess my point is that if you ignore them, they will come around. Oh yeah, I do give them BOSS and occasionally white rice (cooked!) so that may have something to do with it but I don't go overboard and they don't get it every day. When I go outside it's hysterical to see all eleven of them come running full tilt to se if I have anything for them.

    Also, you might try turning over rocks and boards and tapping the ground for them to come and eat the bugs and worms, they love that.
  6. ZombieChickens

    ZombieChickens Chillin' With My Peeps

    My ladies definately went through a "rebellious teenager" phase where they didn't want to be within 15 feet of anyone. But then they "grew up" and my kids and I can pick them up, most of the time. (Except for our little banty, who's just a psycho....)
  7. naturegrrl

    naturegrrl Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 15, 2008
    Santa Cruz, CA
    I think the level of docility or skittishness is definitely a combination of nature and nurture. There are some breeds that are known to be extremely docile (Silkies, Brahmas, Cochins), and others that are known to be extremely skittish (I don't remember any, because I wanted pets that would snuggle with me, so I only researched the docile ones [​IMG] ). But even then, there are individual differences, and I think that birds raised from day 1 being handled and held are likely to be calmer and easier to handle than birds that weren't handled as chicks. Again, even with lots of handling, I think there are some birds that are just always spazzes, no matter what. [​IMG]
    My experience, based on a sample size of 3, is that Brahmas are naturally very calm and easy to handle, but even my active little buckeye (a breed known to be more skittish) will let me pick her up without *too* much protesting. I've held them all multiple times each day from day 1. With adult birds, I'm not sure there's much you can do beyond acclimatizing them to your presence so that they at least come hang out with you, even if they won't sit on your lap. *Dried mealworms are an excellent bribe, er, training tool.* [​IMG]
    When you need to pick your birds up for health checks, wait until they go into their roost at night - chickens are much more docile when it's gotten dark and they've gone to roost. I've noticed that my buckeye, who will tolerate being held for a while but doesn't usually lap-sit of her own accord, will happily fall asleep snuggled up under my chin if most of the lights are out and it's past sundown.
  8. Beekissed

    Beekissed Flock Master

    I free range so I like my birds to be helps them survive when they are more alert and wary. I also do not touch my birds unless I need to do so for examining them. I don't like to disturb the natural oils on their feathers....this oil keeps them from getting soaked to the skin on rainy days.

    Another reason I do not intentionally fondle my chickens or feed them "treats" is because I like to do my chores around here without booting chickens out of way. Hard enough to walk with them following me, the sheep following me, the dogs and cat following me....some days I feel like Ace Ventura. [​IMG]

    Another reason? So the roo knows I'm potentially dangerous and nothing that he would tackle. This allows me to do my chores without looking over my back for the nearly 3 in. spurs of death.
  9. Lotsapaints

    Lotsapaints Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 17, 2010
    Paso Robles, CA
    My Partridge Rocks are so skittish right from when they hatch though some of them will come for food they are not like my Delawares who are pests when the PR's get to point of lay they begin to calm down and I do have to catch them when they are young for banding and weighing them they are still wild.....after they have been laying for a month they start to get where they no longer run from me feeding them and I can actually touch them and as time goes by they even get very friendly coming to see me but not all of them but they don't freak out like they did when they were younger. They are great foragers and can live without much help because of how they act.. I feed my chickens once a day sprouted grains and they really love them so that has helped make my chickens for the most part tame the only ones who are skittish are the Partridge Rocks and they were all raised the same hatched out by me....some breeds are just not as friendly as others...
  10. Carols Clucks

    Carols Clucks Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 13, 2010
    I think it really makes a big difference if you raise them from chicks or if a hen does.

    If you raise them, you can go and sit with them and feed them treats, they learn to see you as the source of good things.

    But when a hen raises them, if she is not a super friendly hen, the hens job is to protect the babies. The babies may see you as kind of a threat

    You can see the difference between the old chickens, who used to sit on my dads lap and share his sandwich. To the chicken with a hen for a mom, rarely gets within 5 feet of us. To the new girls who we kept in a covered run and not held as much, friendly and few like being pet-but all hang out right by you.

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