My Chicks don't like me!

smcmillan1

In the Brooder
Mar 5, 2018
17
27
41
Celina, Tx
My chicks are almost a week old and I have them in an old dog cage in my garage. Every time I go out there to check on them and talk to them they run scared. I put my hand in there to clean something, change water, or whatever and they all run to the corner and huddle together like I'm a monster. How can I get them used to me? I talk to them and watch them but they want nothing to do with me picking them up or even when I do grab one to love on they want back in the brooder asap. I just got them some chick grit yesterday because I plan on introducing treats but is their behavior normal? I'm probably just being impatient but it seems everyone else who has baby chicks, theirs are falling asleep on them, perched on a shoulder, etc.
 

HannaKessler

Chirping
Feb 22, 2018
88
126
73
If you can sit down in the brooder with them, you will be smaller and less threatening. Also, hands that swoop down from above mimic hawks and instictively scare even the tamest chicks. Instead try scooping them slowly from underneath. Treats definitely help, but if you don't handle them there is no age where they grow more friendly, only less. Sometimes chickens will be happy enough to be around you, but they won't like being held.
 

smcmillan1

In the Brooder
Mar 5, 2018
17
27
41
Celina, Tx
If you can sit down in the brooder with them, you will be smaller and less threatening. Also, hands that swoop down from above mimic hawks and instictively scare even the tamest chicks. Instead try scooping them slowly from underneath. Treats definitely help, but if you don't handle them there is no age where they grow more friendly, only less. Sometimes chickens will be happy enough to be around you, but they won't like being held.


I can't get in my brooder since it is a dog cage but I could take them out to the coop, maybe this weekend since it's supposed to be pretty warm? I dunno, i'll have to get creative!
 

HannaKessler

Chirping
Feb 22, 2018
88
126
73
I brooded ducklings (which are pretty different than chickens, but whatever) and noticed that they became way less friendly when I transitioned them from their brooder box to a dog crate. Perhaps it's the fact that they can't see you walking around all the time. When they were in the box they would look up at me and greet me whenever I came over, but in the crate they would go hide in the corner. The newest set of ducklings I have were brooded in a box then transitioned into the bathtub (easier to clean than the dog crate while the hose water is off for the winter) and they are way easier to pick up and handle now that they have moved outside. Just my personal experience, but I don't like dog crates.
 

Acre4Me

Crossing the Road
Nov 12, 2017
6,709
22,069
877
Western Ohio
Ehh, might be age/stage/personality. Our 17 chicks are in our bathroom in a plastic lined jacuzzi tub that we do not use. The bathroom is used however, and there is often someone in there for one reason or another. They had a heat lamp the first 3 days (so we could see them in case of problems), but are now under a heat plate (so its very low light at night in there and they sleep). My 11yo is constantly in there staring at them, holding them, talking to them. I will also go in and observe and pick up - mostly to make sure all is well and to shower attention on a few favorites. The 11yo has a ritual of bringing me chicks to admire and hold. Currently (as I type) she is bringing them into me and putting them on my head and laughing at the silliness of a bird on my head. We have given them treats, and they all seem healthy. But they RUN when they think we are trying to hold them. They do not come to us, they are chickens and behaving in a way young prey type animals should act. Eventually, they will adore the routine of treats or whatever you provide. Good Luck!
 

ewerbos

Songster
May 14, 2016
109
88
101
Gaithersburg, MD
(This is only our second time brooding chicks, but both our full-grown hens and our chicks run when they see us, so what we've been doing works at least for our set).

Our first set of chicks started out running from us from the day we got them; to convince them to be friendly, we didn't pick them up when they didn't want to be picked up (except for pasty butt). We would hold out our hands very low, palm up, with some kind of food/treat (chicken food works fine), and wait patiently. They eventually learned to come, though some were more skittish than others. One key trick is NOT grabbing them when they approach--let them hop on and off the human hand to get comfy. "Pecking" the food with a finger sometimes seems to get them interested. We also found that they didn't like to be petted like dogs, but that they seemed ok with getting poked on the end of their beak, and once they are jumping in your hands comfortably, you can try fully enclosing them (which seems to make them feel safe and happy).

Now that they're grown, they all come running to us--But the chickens that liked to be picked up as chicks aren't necessarily the same ones that like to be picked up now. They all still come running from across the yard if they see humans, but some like to be picked up more than others.

I've never used a dog crate, but you might be able to make the slow movement thing work, if you sit down in front of the crate (and approach it slowly), then open the door (slowly), and put your hands in low (even for picking up food/water etc). Hanging out and being slow and unalarming may help tremendously.

Our second lot started out unafraid (we got them by mail directly from a hatchery, instead of through a third party, and I guess they didn't have a chance to get "scary" human handling), and they still come running when they see humans and jump all over our hands if we put them in their brooder. They're two weeks old and have just started climbing our arms and jumping on our heads.

We are pretty extreme in the not grabbing the chicks and manhandling them direction if we can avoid it; many folks seem to have great success doing that, but we've found our chicks/chickens to be exceptionally friendly and unafraid of humans so far.
 

igorsMistress

Frank and Abbys mom.
Premium Feather Member
8 Years
Apr 9, 2013
24,633
131,857
1,632
My Coop
My Coop
If you're approaching from above you seem like a predator. If you can put them where you can reach in from the side I had better luck. Also, get them out where they can approach you, sit on tge ground with them. Start offering a treat. When my girls were chicks they loved mealworms and anything green. I held a small bunch of broccoli or a leaf of mustard green in my hand and just sat still. Eventually one will be brave and the rest will follow.
 

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