New to me 8 month old hens, can I make them like me?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by 5lilchix, Feb 4, 2016.

  1. 5lilchix

    5lilchix New Egg

    Jan 5, 2016
    So I recently purchased a coop from a young guy who simply didn't have time for these chickens anymore. I took the chickens he had with it, why not?! There are 2 RIR, 2 barred rock, and an Americauna or EE... I'm thinking EE. They aren't mean but they aren't really thrilled when I'm around anyway. I haven't been able to actually get ahold of them either and just take a good look at them. Partly because I don't want to make them afraid of me. I'm actually totally new to chickens and I was hoping for some advice as to how to approach them. Should I just bribe them with treats? :) I go out there 2 or 3 times a day to check on them and gather eggs and they seem curious. I'd love to hear your thoughts!
  2. azygous

    azygous Flock Master

    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    Actually, yes, bribe them with treats! See! You already have chicken keeper instincts!

    These chickens are undergoing a big change, and one thing you'll soon find out is chickens do not do change. It's in their contract. You need to give them some space to adjust.

    Once you see they are becoming more relaxed in their new home, try sitting near them while you eat something that chickens are certain to be interested in. Carrots, apples, crackers, raisins, grapes, sunflower seeds. Chickens can't resist seeing a human eating something and not want to investigate.

    If you can get down on their level, it's even better. Try holding out a raisin in your hand. Be patient. It won't take long and one will grab it. Then the others will want some, too.

    Do this as a ritual every day. Soon you'll be able to reach out and stroke them when they are eating from your hand. If you use this time while offering food to repeat a verbal cue, you can use it in the future to call them to you since they'll associate food with the word.

    Some breeds are more friendly than others. Don't expect everyone of them to be in your fan club, but I'm betting your EE will be the most friendly.
  3. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Spending time in coop multiple times a day will get them used to your presence, that you bring food will enhance that....but maybe don't always bring food or they may mob you whenever you're out there....I don't care for that myself.

    When I need to examine a bird, I usually get them off the roost at night after dark and use a headlight to see what I need to see....but I'm not a chicken cuddler so haven't 'tamed' my birds to the extent that I can pick them up any old time.

    The longer/more frequently you work at it the more friendly they will become.
  4. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon

    First, give them time. Whenever I get a new animal--horse, dog, chicken, etc-- I try to just leave them alone for a few days. I feed and water and just go about my normal routine, but I don't really ask much of the animal as far as interacting with me (except they have to have basic respect and manners, of course!). I figure the stress of moving and a new environment is enough without me pushing interaction on them if they're not good with it.

    After that, it's just about food, time, food, patience, and food. Did I mention treats [​IMG] ? Again, with chickens that have not been handled I would not be trying to catch them, that's just going to lead to chasing and stress the birds. Just give them treats, and let them get used to your presence. Pull up a chair and sit out in the run. Eventually they'll work up to eating from your hand, but it may take weeks.

    If you want to look them over for a health check, do so at night. Sleeping chickens are easy peasy to lift off the roost and examine. Do be prepared for some flapping and noise, they don't necessarily know you're not looking for chicken dinner. Just hold them firmly and tuck the wings under your arm like a football and they'll usually settle right down. If not, a towel or something over their head usually lulls them to a sleep-like state.

    Good luck with your new birds [​IMG]
  5. Sutremaine

    Sutremaine Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 19, 2014
    Ours are pretty happy to be around me and my dad, but they don't do being picked up. I can tickle their butt feathers and take hold of their feet, but they really don't like being taken off their feet. If they do need to be picked up and examined for something, it can wait until dark. They're quite wriggly even with their wings restrained, so I hold onto their legs as well. Ideally I'd be holding the bird's wings between arm and waist, their breastbone underneath my forearm, and the long foot bones between my first / second and third / fourth fingers, but usually I end up holding the body with my right arm and the legs with an assortment of left fingers. I haven't quite got the hang of getting them restrained quickly enough to stop them from getting their nails into my inner elbow and pushing. Their legs are stronger than they look -- not very strong absolutely (they are only 4lb animals), but I found myself needing a much firmer grip than I expected.

    It's very useful to have the following handy:

    : A head torch
    : Another person to provide a second pair of hands
    : A head torch for the other person
    : A hand torch, if you have any hands spare between you
    : Long, thick sleeves

    And you're not even going to have caught them by the end of the chase.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by