Scaredy chicks - how to make friends?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by MonicainAZ, Apr 29, 2016.

  1. MonicainAZ

    MonicainAZ Chirping

    May 21, 2015
    Phoenix, AZ
    Hi all, I currently have 3 black australorp chicks, who are only the second set of chicks I've raised. The first group weren't terribly friendly, but seemed to be unfazed by much of anything. They are 7 months old now and they are about the same. They aren't friendly per se, but always want to know if I have food and they are content to just do their thing and pretty much otherwise ignore me and the dogs.

    When I got my new batch of chicks (from a feed store), I hoped by handling them more, they could be more friendly. However, since day 1 they are a bunch of scaredy chickens! They are about 3 weeks old now and just today I finally got them to take treats from my hand - little bits of blackberry. They won't touch dried mealworms. Even with the blackberry one would grab a bit and the others would go crazy chasing that one to steal the berry, but wanted nothing to do with the next bit I put in my hand. They cower in the corner and climb under each other trying to hide.

    I've been talking to them and have gently picked them up a few times, but for the most part they seem to think I'm trying to kill them. Any suggestions on how to deal with this? Should I just be patient and trust that eventually they will get more interested in treats and understand I'm their friend? Once they are in with my other two hens, will they follow their lead and realize they don't need to worry? Or will they always just be skittish this way?

    Should I try to handle them more even though they don't like it, or should I leave them be and just keep trying to feed them?

    Any advice appreciated. Maybe next time I will be lucky and get the kind of chicks that like to cuddle!
    rbnk1 likes this.
  2. AngeliqueR

    AngeliqueR In the Brooder

    Mar 27, 2016
    San Dimas
    Yesterday someone made a really great suggestion about modifying your brooder so that you can take one side down and approach your chicks from the side, not from the top. If even just one chick is freaked out by the scary hand they'll all flip out together, but when you can approach them at their level it is a different experience. I tried it and it with my own 2 week old scaredy-chicks and it worked great! They were more curious than frightened, a few of them ate from my hand, and one of my girls even decided my palm was hers and settled in for a nice rest. It was really sweet. I sat with them for almost an hour and it was so much better than all of my previous attempts at socialization combined--by the end every chick was happy to let me scratch her neck with my finger.

    In my case I have a cardboard brooder so it was really easy to simply cut down one side and then push it against a wall when I'm done. I'm not sure how you'd do it with a sturdier brooder but I do think it's worth it!
    rbnk1 likes this.
  3. kgb6days

    kgb6days Songster

    Mar 6, 2016
    I have two EEs that were exactly the same - would run from me screaming and would cower in fright if I was anywhere near. Once I put them in the coop/run with the older girls (by 2 weeks) I became their best friend. They now come to me, jump on my shoulder, sit by me. Still not taking treats from my hand but that's ok. Give them time. I started just sitting by the brooder and talking to them, lowering my hand into the brooder far away from them with palm up and slowing moving closer to them without actually touching them. We're scary huge compared to them, and it takes a while. Just be patient. Trust sometimes takes a while to develop.
  4. realsis

    realsis Crazy for Silkies

    Jan 17, 2013
    Out of my 10 girls I have a Silver penciled Rock and a Barred Rock that are SUPER Shy. The other 8 girls (barred rocks, laced wyannadotte, golden buff) ALL jump into my lap climb on my arms fly to my hands. They started at 6 days old. They are about 15 days old now. I even had one barred rock go through the process of dust bathing IN MY LAP!!! All the while the other two hide or stay back. When I handle them they SCREAM BLOODY MURDER!! THE penciled Rock is the worst bless her heart! I continue to handle them. In my expire nice after point of lay they tend to get more friendly. Those types of chicks may never be lap chickens like the others but at least you will be able to catch them and check them over. So continue handling your shy ones. It's a lot of individual personality. Later after laying, they will settle down. But they may not be snuggle bugs. Hope this helps.
    rbnk1 likes this.
  5. MonicainAZ

    MonicainAZ Chirping

    May 21, 2015
    Phoenix, AZ
    Thanks to all of you for the suggestions. These guys are about 3-4 weeks old now, and this weekend I put them in a pen in my yard and sat with them for a while. They don't seem to like mealworms (I wasn't aware there were chickens who didn't like them!) but they do like the blackberries. They are suspicious that I may just still be trying to kill them, but they will at least take the treats from me and warm up a bit. They'll be ready to go in with the big girls in a few weeks, hopefully that will help too!

    They are also completely afraid of my dog - they panic and run, which she thinks is great fun. If they don't grow out of this and calm down a bit, they may need to find new homes. But, I'll just keep working with them and see how it pans out.
    Last edited: May 2, 2016

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