Scared chicks in brooding box and adding them to my 4 SLWs is concerning me

Orven84

Hatching
5 Years
Apr 22, 2014
5
0
7
So I have 4 wonderful SLW's that are my pets than anything. They come when I call, follow me everywhere, and would rather spend time with me than go for fresh food/water. They expect me to spend time with them when I let them out and if I don't they come to the back door and peck it until I come out and sit with them on the deck.

I was supposed to have another dozen SLWS but when they hatched they were GLW's and a few are not purebred. They are Absolutely terrified of me and everyone. I teach science in a K-5 school, and they were raised in exactly the same environment, so no different variables there. The only difference would be that the eggs came from a different seller(which I may not want to use again). The kids have enjoyed observations of these just as the ones last year, but these are no fun at all. All the handling and time spent with them hadn't helped. They panic and cry out until we put them down.

So, two questions:

1. Can I do anything to change this behavior?
2. Because of flock mentality, will they ruin the great enjoyment I get from my others and the way they interact with me and ruin their behavior as well?

I feel like selling them and starting over.

Thank you, Gene
 
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ChickensAreSweet

Heavenly Grains for Hens
9 Years
Jun 8, 2010
15,100
621
398
Pacific NW- where the Douglas Firs grow
It is the way chicks are at that age from my experience...they act skittish and scared. I would find it an anomaly to have chicks who were not skittish. When they start laying they become friendlier. I just consider it normal.

Of course different breeds make a difference- and different strains as well within the same breed - in terms of flightiness.

If it were me I'd just see if they mellow out when they get older. There are huge variations in personality in individual chickens- just like people. I don't really feel that I get to know a chicken until they grow up.

I have had some hens and roosters become aggressive and unpleasant after growing up. Then too I have had many become such lovely dears that I still cry over them if they are gone. But I could never really tell when they were 5 weeks old how they would turn out...if I look back upon it, based upon their 5 week old behavior.

The best thing to do in my opinion when trying to grow your flock is to wait until they are grown and see who the individual troublemakers are...there are always some hens who are mean, and some who are sweet, and some who are too timid and need rescuing from the bullies. I get rid of the mean ones and the flock always breathes a sigh of relief...you can just see it.

There will be hens who are clingy to you and some who aren't. There is a full range in personality in chickens. Some are very much loners, and some are wanting to sit in your lap. What you can do it to keep giving treats and encourage them to hang around you. In my opinion they don't mature with their personalities until much older.

If you only want to keep your super friendly hens I'd let them grow out before judging them. The best time to integrate chicks with older hens is about 16 weeks from my experience...before then and it may or may not work out/result in injuries, depending on the personalities of the older hens.

Of course they may stay flighty even after growing out. If they are nervous and upset, they will make the whole flock nervous...it is true. Your hens who love you may still hang out with you and all, but the whole feeling of the flock becomes less settled when there are a few flighty nervous hens in the coop.
 
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azygous

Crossing the Road
10 Years
Dec 11, 2009
18,640
22,771
912
Colorado Rockies
What sort of brooder are these five-week olds in? Is it top access or side access? In order for you to pick the chicks up to hold them, do you need to reach down from above them?

I raised my first big batch of SLWs in a cardboard brooder box I'd placed on the floor and accessed from the open top. As the weeks went by, my eight chicks became more and more frightened of being touched, running and screeching every which way to avoid my hands. These chicks grew up to be very stand-offish adults, and only recently, now that they're five years old, are a couple of them becoming tame.

Two years later, I was cruising BYC in anticipation of my next batch of six chicks. I stumbled on a thread discussing the topic you've brought up. As I was reading the postings, a light bulb went off in my head. All these people were having trouble with skittish chicks and they were all using brooders with a top access. I asked myself, what if that's the problem? After all, many of the natural predators of chickens mostly come from above.

So I got a fresh appliance carton and got creative and installed a side access door, as well as windows covered with clear plastic all around so the chicks would have a full view of the word going on around them. Bingo! All the chicks were tame as could be from day one!

All my chicks since then have been raised this way, and they're so tame, it's embarrassing.
 

Orven84

Hatching
5 Years
Apr 22, 2014
5
0
7
I have a brooder I built myself from a couple of rabbit/guinea pig cages. Half is enclosed with heat, the other is more of a run with mesh on all sides the top is also mesh and I placed additional cardboard on half of the top to protect from drafts/cooler air. This is inside my classroom and the kids have enjoyed watching them grow. Amazing that all kids K-5 are so engaged and inquisitive each week when we observe and record changes. I grew up rural, but now teach in Little Rock, Arkansas with 80% of the children coming from poverty.

Thanks again for the feedback, I will let them stay separate until 6 weeks and observe them to rehouse ones that may be upsetting the flock balance!
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
Premium member
7 Years
Nov 27, 2012
75,019
81,982
1,607
SW Michigan
My Coop
My Coop
I have a brooder I built myself from a couple of rabbit/guinea pig cages. Half is enclosed with heat, the other is more of a run with mesh on all sides the top is also mesh and I placed additional cardboard on half of the top to protect from drafts/cooler air. This is inside my classroom and the kids have enjoyed watching them grow. Amazing that all kids K-5 are so engaged and inquisitive each week when we observe and record changes. I grew up rural, but now teach in Little Rock, Arkansas with 80% of the children coming from poverty.

Thanks again for the feedback, I will let them stay separate until 6 weeks and observe them to rehouse ones that may be upsetting the flock balance!
I would make sure that they have lots of room before weeding out any trouble makers at 6 weeks.
That's still pretty young and lack of space is the number one cause of unruly and fighting chicks/chickens.
It's best to give them lots of room and keep them together to work out the flock dynamics.
 

Orven84

Hatching
5 Years
Apr 22, 2014
5
0
7
Good advice, the golden laced Dottes are twice the size my SLW's were at this age
 

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