Not a good first day - could use some advice


9 Years
Mar 6, 2011
Hello. Well, after much preparation and excitement we finally got our first chickens today. They are pretty girls, all pullets between the ages of 12 and 16 weeks old. Got them home and things did not go well. My DH had the coop finished but he still needed to finished up their fenced area for foraging. We live in suburbia so we just put them on my side yard while he finished up. Once it was done I went to get the girls to move them. Here is where it all goes downhill. I know many will laugh at this and probably think I am incredibly naive and possibly a total moron. Please go easy on me. The only chickens I've ever been around in my life were a neighbor's whose chickens would follow you around and allow you to pick them up. They were easily ushered from the yard back to your coop. So, here goes. Prepare to laugh because today I learned that if a chicken does not want to be caught, it is very difficult to catch. Not only that, I learned that a chicken will jump up onto a woodpile and then onto your trash bins and then over your 6 foot fence onto your neighbor's greenhouse and then go onto their roof. Yup.... There we were, in suburbia trying to wrangle the chicken with a fishing net. My poor husband never even wanted chickens and he built the coop and did all this work and then our first day went like this. I am sure that eventually this will just be a funny story .... "remember when mom got the chickens and she was trying to catch them and one flew onto the neighbors roof, hahaha..." but right now it is frustrating and discouraging. The birds are all terrified of us. I can't imagine trying to get them in and out of the coop each day. I think they are scared. I went out to check on them in their coop and I peeked in the window with a flashlight and they are all huddled in one corner crammed together with four on the roost and five below them on the poop board. So much for a poop board... I guess the bottom chickens are the poop board.

I don't care if these birds are the types that want to sit on my lap, but I don't want them to be scared of us. I'd like them to feel comfortable around us and know they're safe with us and allow us to pick them up when needed. I really didn't want to get chicks but now I can't help but wonder if that was the route we should have taken.

At 12-16 are they too old to get comfortable with us or do they just need time?

If we feed them treats will it help to get them to feel more comfortable with us? I'm not above kissing up to these chickens and bribing them into feeling comfortable with us. What are most chickens favorite treats?

Any other tips would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you,
Yes treats can go a long way!!! They also need some time to adapt to their new home. I had two chickens that were terrified of me and it took two of us to kind of herd them back into their pen, that is until I discovered how much they love raisins. Every day I would bribe them with a handful of raisins. Soon they would take them out of my hand, and soon after that , they see me and come running "Yay it's the raisin lady!!!"
Good luck. They will probably settle down some in a few days and you can slowly build their trust.
And you WILL laugh about it someday, lol.
They will settle down. And you will too! They do tend to freak out a bit with change. Treats do help. Mine love mealworms, just about any vegetable, bugs, cottage cheese, yogurt.

I got my older hens at 2-3 years. They do not voluntarily allow me to pick them up (unless I corner them to catch them). But they do tolerate me because they learned I have food. My younger hens were 3 months when I got them. 3 are skittish still at 7 months. But 1 will let me pick her up. She also helps me clean the pool. I scoop out bugs, she eats them. She has a June bug addiction, too.

They all have different personalities. Some will get used to you being around, but most will start to run to you or chase you if they think you have food. Bribery goes a long way.

I'd keep them in their coop/run for at least a week to imprint on them where home is. Then they should go to it on their own at night. You can also clip wings if needed if they continue to "fly the coop," so to speak. Mine free range over 1/2 acre and have yet to discover that they can fly over a 6 ft privacy fence or the 3 ft garden fence.

And that will make a GREAT story in a couple of months when everyone is all settled and giving you tons of eggs!
I give mine green grapes that I squish in half and I also feed them dried mealworms. They LOVE treat time. They run to me now whenever they see me. My babies are now jumping on my lap to eat their treats, and it is fabulous bonding time.
They are definitely not too old to bond with you! Give them some time to adjust and ply them with treats! Soon enough they'll come running when they see you and you'll have a hard time getting out of the coop and run because they'll be crowding at your feet.
Feeding treats like cracked corn, uncooked oatmeal, plain yogurt and hard boiled eggs will go a long way toward relationship building. In no time at all you will be remembering today with a rueful smile. I promise.
Thank you so much for the tips, everyone. It is very encouraging. Let the bribery begin! I come bearing treats!

What about the way they are sleeping? Is it normal for them to all huddle up in one corner like this?
Funny Story!

I got my 11 hens on April you..never had them before.

What I did was left them in the coop for about 1.5 weeks and visited often with treats...the first day they huddled in the corner...about Day 3 some of them would come closer but as soon as I moved they would squawk and fly off.

After the 1.5 week mark I let them out into the run...let them get used to that still every time I visited I would bring treats and say "treet treet"

Now it has been over a month and I let them out of the run after they produce their eggs and now when I go outside they all come running and jumping on me. So it will just take a few weeks to get them to that stage...or that it what my experience was.

Have fun!!!
I found it easier to bond with my chickens at dusk, just before beddy-bye, and definitely bribed them with goodies. Fist, it was watermelon rind, then mulberries. Now, when I go out to the coop, I call one of the chooks' names, and they pace the coop until I arrive, awaiting whatever I have for their breakfast. I sit on a bucket in the coop and wait for them to settle...then their curiosity gets the best of them and they start coming in closer. Once the bravest takes the plunge, the others follow. This morning, it was ripe banana flax seed yogurt mush!

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