1. If this is your first time on BYC, we suggest you start with one of these three options:
    Raising Chickens Chicken Coops Join BYC
    Not a member yet? join BYC here & then introduce yourself in our community forum here.

My chicks think my tattoos are food?!?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by KCNC06, May 31, 2010.

  1. KCNC06

    KCNC06 Songster

    Sep 19, 2009
    Central NC
    I think I've spoiled my chickens a little too much. All my adult (10-12 months old) hens come running as soon as they see me heading out to the yard. They usually gather around my feet eyeballing me to see if I have anything yummy for them. Sometimes they'll peck at my shoe, pant cuff or rings, once they notice I don't have any treats they wander off. I got these girls when they were about 3-4 months old.

    My newest batch of chicks, 14 of them, I've had since they were 2-3 days old. I've hand fed them since I got them so they'd learn to like me. Well, I think they've learned to like me a little too much. They're all out in the yard with the big girls now, so they come running whenever I head out there. They'll check look at my hands to see if I have anything, if I don't drop anything for them, they start checking out my feet. My garden/chicken yard shoes have little flowers all over them and the chicks will start pecking at the printed flowers. Sometimes they'll even try to stand on my shoes and give 'em a little scratch before going back to pecking. Once they realize they're not getting anything off the shoes, they give my feet/ankles the sideways checkout and start pecking at my leg. Only one leg, I have a pretty big floral tattoo that comes up my foot and wraps around my ankle. They get quite excited about trying to eat these flowers! One tried to eat a scab off my other leg, I think she thought it was a tick...really just a scab from scratching a mosquito bite.

    So my question is, will these chicks eventually learn that my shoes and tattoos are not food or do I need to do something to break this habit?! I move my feet and leave the yard when they get a little too focused on my shoes and/or tattoos. It was cute at first, but I don't want them to be biters! Even though they don't bite non-tattooed skin...just my feet, ankle and wrists. Anything colorful seems to be met with "Yum! Can I eat that?" Maybe I just need a sign for the yard "Beware - Chickens Love Tattoos!!" [​IMG]

    But seriously. Do they outgrow thinking that everything is food? Are young chickens the same as young....every other creature? You don't know it's food unless you try it first. [​IMG]

  2. columbiacritter

    columbiacritter Songster

    Jun 7, 2008
    Scappoose Oregon
    Chickens aren't the brightest birds. Some will learn, some never will.
  3. gryeyes

    gryeyes Covered in Pet Hair & Feathers

    I have learned not to wear shorts, capris, or knee-length skirts when I enter the run. (Yes, I just change my shoes first thing when I get home from work, instead of getting into comfy clothes before going out there the first time..... I'll let them out to free range, then go change. My work clothes are usually long skirts or pants.) I have tattoos on both ankles!

    My coop and run-around shoes are Crocs. They love to check out the holes in the tops, too, pecking tentatively for possible worms, maybe? It's not hard enough to hurt my feet or toes.

    But sometimes the peck to the tattoos are a bit harder. I think the green color (of the dragons) leads them to believe I've got growing things on and/or around my ankles. Ummm, veggies! NOT.

    I don't think they outgrow it. Hope springs eternal in the little chickie brain.
    Last edited: May 31, 2010
  4. simpsoncj

    simpsoncj Songster

    Dec 27, 2009
    My EE who I think has trouble seeing, will pick at anything, anywhere, on any part of your body. She definitely does not do this to be mean, she genuinely thinks it is food and as soon as you jump or yell about it she freaks out as much as you do! Today she pecked at a mole on the back side of my knee and we both jumped at the same time! It has never hurt, in fact none of my chickens pecks (all accidental, never intentional) have ever really hurt, so I guess I am lucky. But it will scare me!
  5. Mahonri

    Mahonri Urban Desert Chicken Enthusiast Premium Member

    May 14, 2008
    North Phoenix
    My Coop
    I have a mole on my leg.

    Can't tell you the number of times one of them have tried to peck it off.
  6. KCNC06

    KCNC06 Songster

    Sep 19, 2009
    Central NC
    Mine definitely don't peck hard enough to hurt either, except the one that was trying to get the "tick" off my leg. But that probably hurt more because it's already a little tender.

    I don't usually change my clothes before heading out to the yard after work either. I just change from flip-flops to my garden clogs. I let the chickens out after I get dressed for work in the morning too. I learned that pajamas/ robe don't mix with fowl...chances are too good that you'll get poop on you and won't notice.

    Maybe it is the green that they're interested in. They don't seem interested in the black & gray butterfly on the back of that ankle, just the garden on the front/sides. They also don't seem to notice the black & gray on dh's arms. It's funny to watch I guess. Especially when the Australorp steps up on my shoe and starts scratching looking all around.

    I guess I should count my blessings...my mom's vulture does the same thing to her crocks. Slowly sneaks over, looks at the holes at the front and grabs onto one and pulls. Chicken beaks are a lot nicer than vulture beaks! I learned that lesson the hard way. My little brother is a fibber, you cannot hand feed a vulture the way you do chickens!
  7. akaxo

    akaxo Songster

    if i go outside in bare feet there's one who will just about always have a go at the tattoos on my feet, have some flowers and vines on one foot she seems keen on. and they seem to be keen on the green bits on one arm too.
  8. watersoflethe

    watersoflethe Songster

    Apr 28, 2010
    Corona/Mira Loma CA
    Quote:me 2

    pluls i had a wound on my leg and when i wasn't looking a peck came onto it...
    it HURTS!
    i'm not food... [​IMG]
  9. acid_chipmunk

    acid_chipmunk Polish Silkies d'Uccles O my!

    Mar 29, 2010
    Mine haven't pecked at my tattoos, but mine are on my calves. After hearing these stories, I will be sure to cover my feet once they are tattooed!
  10. PhlyinPheBee

    PhlyinPheBee Poodles, Chicken, Goats--OH MY!!

    Mar 11, 2009
    Northeast Louisiana
    I had to wear a bandaid on my shin for several days and every time I went outside they would come running and when one started pecking at it they all would start!!! I have a scar there and they eye bald it all the time. They are so funny!!

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by: