Skittish Pullets help!

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by 2fathens, Jun 25, 2016.

  1. 2fathens

    2fathens Out Of The Brooder

    Dec 4, 2015
    Recently I purchased 5 pullets (RIR, BOs) ranging from 3 months-5 months old. They are SO skittish. Every move I make, even moving my arm makes them run, even bringing them treats makes them run. Can you get a chicken comfortable with you after they are out of their chick stage? Im nervous that they weren't held enough as chicks and will never warm up to people.

    Any tips would be great, im used to my old girls following me everywhere and constantly in my face so I am in new territory with skittish hens!
  2. CluckerCottage

    CluckerCottage Chillin' With My Peeps

    Definitely sounds like they had little to no interaction with humans.
    It will take time for them to adjust-- they have had a major life change.
    Give them time for that. Have you tried sitting in a chair in the run and offering food from your hand?
    Don't approach them, let them come to you. In time they will not view you as a threat and I'm pretty sure all will be well.
    Keep us posted and best wishes!
  3. Rock Home Isle

    Rock Home Isle Chillin' With My Peeps

    This happens almost every time I get started birds. I had a trio of started birds that behaved just what you describe. With a lot of effort, patience and time, they will learn to come to you...but most likely they will not be as close and friendly as birds that you've raise from chicks.

    I mixed these new birds into a group of birds that would come to me, that helped a lot, but they were always an arms length bird.
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2016
  4. azygous

    azygous Flock Master

    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    If these are a breed known for skittishness, they aren't likely to improve their trust to any remarkable degree, though you will probably see them settle down over the next few weeks or months as they become familiar with you.

    If you have breeds that are people friendly, you can expect them to come around quickly enough with the right approach. Try getting down on the ground and sitting quietly. Chickens are extremely curious and they will approach you. Let them explore your legs. A few may try perching on them.

    If you have a carton of meal worms and you fish one out, they will promptly become interested. Hand out a few and you will imprint yourself and the worm carton on their brains, and next time you sit down with the carton, they will move in as if drawn by a strong magnet.

    Do this regularly, and you will make friends in short order.
  5. Toddyboy007

    Toddyboy007 Just Hatched

    I'm having the same problem with my 3 Plymouth Rock Buffs however 2/3 seem to be half trusting when I've got mixed corn in my hand. I'm hoping the third will learn from her sisters as they've been raised together from chicks [​IMG][​IMG]
  6. 2fathens

    2fathens Out Of The Brooder

    Dec 4, 2015
    Thanks all! Im wishing I just did chicks this year instead of pullets but lesson learned for the future. Mealworms seem to help some and I can now get the youngest ones to grab and run from my hand, hopefully with time they will warm up more. Im a bit nervous to let them have free range as my old ladies just come when I call if I need them in at any time. I suppose I will start with only letting them out an hour or so before dusk so I know they will come home anyway and we'll take it from there!
  7. Rock Home Isle

    Rock Home Isle Chillin' With My Peeps

    That is good news. If they are coming and eating from your hand...very nice.

    Keep it up and they will gradually see you not as something of a concern, but as a source of food (treats). I'm not going to say, "something to fear" because if that were an issue, they wouldn't come to you at all.

    Cooked rice is another treat that my girls can never get enough of when I offer it.
  8. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Rattling treat jar, scoop, can...train them to that sound.
    ....and expect for it to take weeks, not days, for them to settle down and trust you.

    Do you want them to just be called back to the coop/run......or picked up and cuddled?
    First will take days to weeks...the other, months.
  9. GreenWillow

    GreenWillow Out Of The Brooder

    Mar 23, 2016
    Franklin, WI
    I'm in the same boat 2fathens. Should have sucked it up and gotten another round of chicks after we lost two from our original flock. Instead we have three new pullets that are as skittish as they are full of hatred for me! I found that fresh raspberries perked them up a bit and warmed them up to me. They still huddle in the corner when I come in, but I'm going to try meal worms and see how that goes over.
  10. AKChickenGal

    AKChickenGal Out Of The Brooder

    Apr 10, 2016
    Southeast Alaska
    I raised all mine from day old chicks and they are skittish and not overly friendly. I held them and interacted with them every day when they were chicks but now only one chicken will come right up to me and let me pick her up. The rest run away or keep their distance. They are now 16 weeks old. They seem to get more skittish every day. Is this a possible breed thing (hamburgs, campines, minorcas) or will they grow out of it? I had naked necks for my previous flock and they were extremely friendly even though I got them at six weeks old. So my story seems to be opposite of what ya'll are saying.

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