Skittish chickens

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by alessadry, Jun 7, 2017.

  1. alessadry

    alessadry Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hubby and I have been really upset lately. Our chickens and rooster have become very skittish. I mean really.. We had chickens before, and never had such skittish birds. They are Jersey giants, I got some black and white ones. The white ones seem to be the most skittish, it's usually them acting panicky and influencing the whole flock. I wonder since this is a new color, they may have not been bred well, like bred on looks rather than temperament?

    We never did anything to traumatize them other than one day when we had to move them into the coop and had to catch them and they were playing hard to catch. Other than that, we made a routine of feeding them treats every day and letting them hop on or laps and legs.

    Well , now they are 3 months, and when I mean skittish, I mean they are scared of the wind (we have lots of wind here) if one chicken flies to greet us, they all run away frightened including the chicken that flied to greet us. When hubby opens the coop, if one hops off the roost to come out, they all get scared and round up in a corner.

    Yesterday, when feeding treats, one chicken made a weird vocalization and they all ran away, then a few came back but most stayed behind. The rooster from going on our laps to be pet now looks at us with suspicion and I think the fact that the hens act so skittish/afraid around us, is making us look bad in his eyes. I see more avoidance now rather than greeting.

    What we hate is that we worked really hard to socialize them with us and always bring them treats. I don't know if chickens go through phases where they are particularly skittish, but I have never seen this behavior in my other hens. We even used to pass the lawn mower and they could care less! They would run greeting us as soon as they saw us (I taught them a strong recall, by calling and giving treats) yet, these are so skittish, even when I call them. I wonder if the annoying wind and dust devils can be a factor or if some skittish chicken are influencing the whole flock. Any ideas?
     
  2. meetthebubus

    meetthebubus Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I'd say they are coming into an awareness that the whole world is their predator (hormones too) being just 3 months, I think you just keep things quiet slow movements they might just re-learn and calm down a bit

    Yet again some just always stay jitterish in a way bc of instincts being nervous is their only defense
    Mine can have their nervous moments if someone knocks over a dish they all jump and scream
     
  3. alessadry

    alessadry Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks, meetthebubus, good to hear it's likely just a phase. I always remind hubby to do yard work when they are closed in the coop before being opened and not carry scary things around. We do walk slowly and get up from sitting very slowly.

    Often though, it's frustrating because despite all our precautions, their own behaviors is often what causes them to scare themselves! One chicken may make a weird noise or another one may be too enthusiastic when she sees the treats and comes flying and all chickens take a run for their life, including the one that came flying! After these episodes they are then spooked by anything.

    I guess it's a good thing though being that they are free range in half acre and there are sometimes hawks flying. The other chickens I had before were in a much smaller place and there were rarely any hawks and there was no wind. Also, I wonder if roosters play a role in making chickens more skittish. This is the first time I got one. He seems like he sends the hens away from us at times.

    This evening for the first time, the rooster left the flock and came near us and our dogs. He came too close actually and ruffled his feathers, I think he was trying to make a point, I got in between him and my dogs (they are senior dogs) and took a step forward and he ran away.

    Next time, I want to be ready though and have some treats to toss him so he learns that we mean no harm to him. I don;t want him to see us a threat. Hopefully, he will learn. He has seen us and our dogs countless times in the yard, but guess those hormones are turning him into a jerk or maybe he was just testing the waters. I hope it's just a phase.
     
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  4. meetthebubus

    meetthebubus Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I hope so too, I think they'll get used to things, I had to put up a material shade which meant cloth flapping for a minute and they hated that they were mad at me for a week, so the second time I did that I first locked them up with meal worms for five minutes until it was secured and they came out not knowing any thing was different, and yes mine will jump bc I dropped the treat bag on accident
    Giving the treats to the roo is good, they love to have goodies to give them showing the girls they provide I think roo loves that I include him so he can look good when I find a live worm he's called by name he knows it and comes running and then calls his girls over and feels real proud lol

    So in the end my point which I didn't get to in the above paragraph (I can talk about the bubus all day lol) they may always be a bit jumpy with certain things, but learn to get over it, when mine get super scared over something their fave treat like raisins or meal worms will help them get over it pretty fast
     
  5. keesmom

    keesmom Overrun With Chickens

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    Where are you located? White Giants aren't a new variety, at least in the US.

    I've had many chicks go through a spazzy stage from 6 weeks until they start to hit maturity. They've calmed down after that for the most part. There have been a couple of breeds that have remained skittish but those were Mediterraneans and not heavy breeds.
     
  6. alessadry

    alessadry Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Meetthebubus, I think I really need to get them some meal worms, maybe they're not too excited about canned corn, spaghetti and other treats I have been giving lately (my other chickens went crazy for these things, but these might be more spoiled). They go bonkers on scrambled eggs, but I can't afford to give them 2-3 scrambled eggs every day at least until they start laying (we have barely enough for us and organic eggs are super expensive!) I am going to try to get them a bag of meal worms next week when I go to town.
     
  7. alessadry

    alessadry Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Keesmom, I am in Arizona. I was wondering whether the white Jersey may have been bred for looks more than temperament. At least, this happens with dogs, they selectively breed to make these new flashy colors and the dogs look great but they have poor temperaments or health issues :(

    I wonder at times if the wind can be a factor. Where we live it's horrible, it's like all afternoons we get sudden blasts of wind and I find them often gathered in a corner. We also get dust devils which can be a real pain and scare me too! One day I was with them feeding them and a blast of wind came and they just disappeared.

    They always look scared lately. Today I fed them a bit of canned corn, and I crouched down and the moment I stood up (very slowly,) they got scared and were gone :(
     
  8. meetthebubus

    meetthebubus Chillin' With My Peeps

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    What county of az? Pinal? Windy and dust devils sounds like Pinal or Pima county type area if u don't mind the question I'm in AZ too enjoying the heat? Lol
     
  9. meetthebubus

    meetthebubus Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Walmart has cheaper meal worms it's a purple bag and every time my girls see that purple bag they go crazy they know it by color lol
     
  10. keesmom

    keesmom Overrun With Chickens

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    I have yet to meet a chicken that liked wind. Mine hide when it gets windy. I've found my pullets calm down and get some sense when they get close to egglaying. The males can go either way - mellow out or turn bratty.

    Where did you get these birds?
     
  11. alessadry

    alessadry Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I am in Cochise County, yup nice heat and we got some rain already yesterday and today. Looks like monsoon season has started already. Got my chickens to gobble up scorpions and crickets mostly, but also for eggs and just the plain fun of watching them.
    Thanks for the tips on mealworms, next time I go to Walmart will check them out!
     

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