Scared and flighty bird, how can I comfort it?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by roxyblue, Dec 6, 2011.

  1. roxyblue

    roxyblue Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hello Everyone,
    Recently I "adopted" a couple more hens from a place that kept them locked in a small barn with 30+ other chickens. Stella (one of the new ones) a speckled sussex loves her new life with us, being able to free range and eat as much as she like. However the other one, Luna, is/was at the bottom of the pecking order (not surprising). My question is this: Luna is VERY scared of me, hesitates to come out of the coop when I am there, and in general is a social outcast. Have you guys had any succes training a full grown chicken to become more comforable around you. I have a feeling that if she starts to feel more at home with the flock she will lay more eggs and in general be a happier chook.
    Thanks guys,
    -Roxy
     
  2. ChicKat

    ChicKat Overrun With Chickens Premium Member

    Hi Roxy,

    wow, you said 'recently' - so we don't know how much time has gone past. I would think with time and treats, and of course good treatment, any chicken will come to eat out of your hand....sooner or later. But that may be as close as it gets.

    I think when one is lowest on the pecking order, they always have to keep an eye out for a bird that could be aggressive toward them (depending on the amount of aggression in your flock).
    Good luck with making friends with Luna.... give it time.
     
  3. Chickenaddict

    Chickenaddict Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Yes you can! I recently adopted a 3 yr old hamburg hen who came from a free range farm on 40 acres. Never had any human contact whatsoever. While she was in quarentine I would hold and pet her, talking to her, telling her how pretty she was ect. I know alot of folks around here think I am nuts and question the SO on how much time I spend inside the coop with them. BUT that being said (I am a few fries short somedays) This hen became very calm and gentle when I am around her. WIthin a few days she was eating out of my hand. Once she passed quarentine after 30 days of 1 on one with me she was introduced to the flock at night when lights went out. She is the low one on the pecking order and having a hard time making friends so when I go out there she gladly walks toward me for some snuggles and a chat. When I am holding her she just goes limp and lays her head against my chest and closes her eyes looking and acting completely content. If she is out free ranging tho she won't be caught or held but she will walk up for treats out of my hand.
     
  4. roxyblue

    roxyblue Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks,
    It's been about a month. Every morning they get treats and then when I get home later in the day they can free range. There isn't to much "bullying" going around inbetween them. They have lots of space so she can run and hide if she needs to. I just don't like to see her have such a rough time. the other three, even the other new one, eagerly jump on my lap and eat whatever treats I have waiting for them in my pocket. While she stands at least 10 feet away and flinches anytime I make a sudden movement....like she expects me to kick her or something. Maybe I am just being too impatient......I know that these things take time.....
    Thanks again
    -Roxy

    that is so sweet! I have one that will sit in my lap and "purr" she also came from a farm and was pretty beat up when I got her. She was added to my flock when my original hens sister died......but she adjusted very quickly. [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2011
  5. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    I used to do like Chickenaddict indicates annually with multiple birds (mostly stags/cockerols). They were games produced by brood cock and hens on one friend or anothers farmlot. They had minimal human contact until harvested as young adults in September. Harvest birds were pulled from roost after dark and squalled bloody murder until placed in a box. They had to be tame for our purposes so considerable effort was invested to achieve that end. Each bird was placed in its own pen. Birds were fed twice daily in addition to plant materials they could scratch up from ground. Care was taken to provide only enough feed so that it would be cleaned up in a couple minutes or less with each feeding. Objective was to keep birds hungry when you approached but not cause a loss in weight. This sped up process were they came to associate you (keeper) with food. The keeper always walked slowly and deliberately through yard in the same manner and at same time each feeding. This reduced stress you might provide that looks like to them like a threat. Usually only a week or two is required for birds to approach your side of pen as you approach with feed. I now use mealworms as part of feeding regimen which greatly speeds up taming process. At some point, start trying to get birds to eact from hand or small cup in your hand.

    Avoid looking directly at birds, at least until they become relaxed around you. Do not at any point grab them by legs.
     
  6. StarLover21

    StarLover21 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I know what you mean. We got four white leghorns in summer. I wasn't a very good chicken mom to them. Then a racoon came and killed three. Then I fell in love with chickens. I adored my white leghorn chick. She did not adore me. I held her, gave her treats several times a day, was patient. She finally warmed up to me enough to eat out of my hand. But if I stood or moved, or came into the pen, she would flip and escape through a tiny hole I didn't know a day old chick could fit through. My black stars are very friendly. They don't like being held...but easy to catch, and when I do catch them, and put them down, they race up to me again for treets (they aren't really smart). But to answer your question, you just have to take it slow. Your chicken may eat out of your hand, but may not warm up to you more if she's not used to you. Good luck.
     
  7. WoodlandWoman

    WoodlandWoman Overrun With Chickens

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    Don't make a lot of hard eye contact. Don't stare at her. That's aggressive behavior. Just look at her out of the corner of your eye or give her a quick glance, then look away.

    Move slowly. Don't make a lot of quick moves, especially in her direction.

    Give her any kind of treat that she would like. Don't make her come to you to get it, just slowly toss some on the ground in her direction. If she wants to come closer at some point, she will.

    She needs time to observe you and see that you aren't a threat. That's what chickens do with all new things. Not making threatening moves, letting her see the others aren't afraid of you and teaching her that you only bring good things will all win her over. When she's ready, she'll come to you.
     
  8. partsRheavy

    partsRheavy Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Leghorns are very flighty.

    If you can work with heavier dual-purpose breeds and as the above posters said move try to move slowly around them, talk to them etc. Have them associate you with goodies!!!

    Eventually you'll have those munchkins following you for food and treats and they'll let you pick 'em up....[​IMG]
     
  9. roxyblue

    roxyblue Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks all!
    I didn't realise that making eye contact ws treatening for them. Well then,I learn something new about chickens everyday thanks to BYC.! I'll try as many of these things as I get around to doing. Her toes are all curved to the side and her back toes bend in....she has weird feet..Anyway her legs get very shaky sometimes she walks around and her legs twitch like she is having some sort of spasm. Do you guys have any birds like this. It is pretty apparent that she is not sick, just seems to have a disability of somesort. Could it be somesort of result of something that happened to her in that locked up pen in the barn?
    thanks again,
    -Roxy
     
  10. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    Quote:I have had such when incubator temperature is not managed properly. It was evident at hatch. Affected birds also tend to be low in social order. It it my opinion the condition comes with some degree of pain. Such birds are not as good at foraging if lots of scratching involved and getting up to and staying on roost can be problem. Confined birds as chicks fed a poorly balanced diet also prone to get crooked toes. I cull affected birds from breeding program because it may in part be a function of genetics.
     

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