Raising friendly chickens

sullivanbay94

In the Brooder
Feb 25, 2020
10
7
13
This may sound like a silly question to some but i was wondering if it is possible to raise friendly chickens- not from a brooder. I'm currently building my coop and i don't really have a great setup to accommodate a brooder, my plan was to buy a few laying hens and let them hatch out the rest of my flock... If i put the time in with my flock/ baby chicks while they are still young will they be friendly?- or is raising them in an incubator/ brooder the best way to ensure they are lap chickens.

thanks in advance
Jamie
 

neo71665

Crowing
Mar 22, 2020
1,769
3,694
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Arkansas
Honestly IMHO chickens are not cats or dogs. Being a natural prey animal they tend to be uneasy about anything bigger than them always. You mess with them from hatching you can keep them tame but it depends more on the temperament of each chicken. Some chickens take to it better. You get them too tame it makes them easier targets for predators.
 

azygous

Enabler
11 Years
Dec 11, 2009
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Some chickens are much more inclined to want interaction with us. As @neo71665 pointed out, it's mainly a temperament thing. I have five six-week old chicks right now, and one gets hysterical when handled, two seem to actually seek out interaction, while the remaining are indifferent at best. They've all been handled regularly since day one and brooded in my run under a heating pad.

Of my adults, eighteen of them, I would say only five actually demand to be cuddled and loved while the rest are mostly indifferent. Only two abjectly detest being touched and flee or fight me when I try to handle them.

I've let a broody raise chicks, too, and the outcome is similar to hand raising. I make a point of handling my new babies at the same time I handle the broody, and that makes the chicks much more inclined to accept handling. Yet, the percentage of chicks that turn out to be lap chickens is about the same as the hand reared ones.
 

centrarchid

Crossing the Road
11 Years
Sep 19, 2009
26,373
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Holts Summit, Missouri
Most of time I use broody hens that are already tame to aid in rearing tame chicks. Those tamed hens show chicks I am not a problem and greatly speed training of chicks to handling measures. I have a cookbook procedure that works both for American Games and American Dominiques. The former seem to go deeper into the the taming process.

When starting point is with a hen not tamed, then I initiate taming process for such hens immediately after broods leave nest following hatching. The hen with brood is kept in a rabbit cage where all are at waist height. In addition to free-choice access to chick feed and water, I give treats multiple times per day. Amounts applied at first in small amounts and I take great care to move slowly when providing. I stay close by as the hen begins to consume and offer it to chicks. Greens are often what the hen wants most, but chicks are partial to live insects. Meal worms (live) are the most practical option for me and solicit a strong aggregating and feeding response from chicks and hen. It seldom takes more than a couple days or two for hen to relax and chicks start coming directly towards me to take eats from me through the rabbit cage wall. Then I release hen with brood into a volume chicks cannot get out of. The hen and brood are acclimated to me approaching from a more above angle. By end of first week the hen and brood can be released where they will come to me when I present treats. The newly trained hens seldom relax enough to stop being all balled up but they will bring broods forward without flogging me. Hens trained as chicks themselves will bring entire brood up onto my lap and sit quietly while loafing. I am no longer surprised when hen we leave chicks with me to go off an forage alone, which something I have yet to see outside of such tamed hens.
 

azygous

Enabler
11 Years
Dec 11, 2009
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Colorado Rockies
So often on this site I come across people who insist that it's impossible to have tame chicks when they are broody raised. @centrarchid and I both use tame broody hens as a go-between to taming broody-raised chicks. Either tame the broody before she hatches chicks or tame her first as an example to the chicks. They will follow her cue.

Taming a chicken that is temperamentally adverse to being touched is a huge challenge, but it can be done with patience and perseverance. I once tamed a cockerel that had a violent meltdown ever time I would try to reach for him to handle him. It took him a year of training to trust me, and he eventually was calm when I needed to handle him. Unfortunately, dogs killed him shortly after her became manageable.
 

Tre3hugger

Let Your Freak Flag Fly
Mar 21, 2020
2,553
8,062
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NW Massachusetts
When I got my adult hens food was the key to their hearts. You'll already be the ine feeding them daily, which is a foot in the door. When you feed them/when they're eating, talk nicely to them and hang out among them. If you are walking by the run, throw them a kitchen scrap. Even a big weed with the root ball attached will be viewed as a treat. I did that and still do, all the while never allowing treats to exceed 10% of their diet. My hens literally flock to me when I come around. My rooster alerts them that I am coming and probably have something yummy. They still don't really like being cuddled, it just isn't something they or I pursue and we both like it that way. But they are super easy to catch if I ever need to handle one for any reason. I would say spend lots of time with them, make yourself synonymous with yums, and lower your expectations just a bit. You can't guarantee a lap chicken, but you can still have a friendship with all your birds.
 

centrarchid

Crossing the Road
11 Years
Sep 19, 2009
26,373
17,726
856
Holts Summit, Missouri
At some point I try to separate friendliness from eats. This involves hanging with the chickens even when food not supplied. Part of my process uses particular signals to indicate food is in the offering. Otherwise the associate me with potential eats and definitely no risk of grabbyness by me.
 

Tre3hugger

Let Your Freak Flag Fly
Mar 21, 2020
2,553
8,062
456
NW Massachusetts
At some point I try to separate friendliness from eats. This involves hanging with the chickens even when food not supplied. Part of my process uses particular signals to indicate food is in the offering. Otherwise the associate me with potential eats and definitely no risk of grabbyness by me.
True. The longer I have them, the more I defeated I feel with less food. Also having a certain sound or call or.gesture .when offering food is a.good.idea
 

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