Mine are 6 weeks old and still run away. I heard that they calm down after teenagehood. When you give them some treats (in a week or so) like a little yogurt, cottage cheese (both fat free) put some on your hand and they will approach. My bravest chick, Lucy, always approached first and then the others followed. I did this every evening with a treat starting about 1 1/2 weeks old and they come running to me whenever I put my hand in the brooder. I still can't pick them up easily b/c they run away, but it'll happen eventually.
Simply tempt them to come to you, with feed or treats (a little yogurt now won't hurt them.) I'll link the BYC treats chart for you. Keep the quantities very small and use common sense --- they are small and need soft foods now; carrot gratings and the like are for later.
When you reach in the brooder from above, they think they are seeing a hawk or owl, and they run in fright. Get down as low as you can and reach in as much from the side as you can. Put a little feed in your hand and just set your hand in there and wait. Spend time sitting with them and letting them get used to your voice and presence. Yes, it will be a while before they are really used to you. Some breeds and some individuals will tame better than others.
Treats are the way to a chicken's heart. At first they won't know that the "treat" you are offering is their regular feed. If they get bored with it, mix in a tiny bit of something soft or liquid. That way they will still be getting mostly feed, which they need.
After raising three previous batches of chicks with poor results as far as producing tame chickens, I decided on a new approach this summer.
I put my brooder box on a table and cut access doors into the side. It was a smashing success! Not only did it calm the baby chicks to see a whole person attached to the Big Hand, but it really saved my back not having to bend over.
I pulled a chair up and sat down when I needed to visit with my babies and clean up the brooder. It was a lot like having a doll house! The babies were tame right from the start, never showing any fear when I reached in from the side. After a few weeks, I'd have two or three of them hopping onto my head and shoulders every time I opened the door.
When I brought them treats, I'd call, "Babies!" and they would all make a mad dash to the door, lining up like little soldiers to see what I had for them. Now that they're all five months old, and three and a half months old, calling "babies!" gets an immediate, conditioned response, making it a cinch to pick up any one I need. They've all grown up to be exceptionally tame, unlike my previous batch who remain impossible to catch.
I attribute this success in taming them solely to the brooder access being from the side and not from the top.
azygous; I have a clear brooder and I'd start talking to the chicks when I was comming down the hall so they wouldn't be startled when I opened the door to the bedroom where they were. I'd sit on the floor with my hand in the brooder and they tame down really quick that way. I may need to put my brooder on a table, too; getting up off the floor isn't as 'quick' as it used to be...
Having a clear-sided brooder is wonderful! In fact, I cut windows in my cardboard brooder box and covered them with clear plastic so the chicks could see out and have lots of natural light.
If you're not against cutting an access hole into the side of the brooder, that's what I'd do. You could re-attach the piece you cut out with some duct tape on the lower edge, creating a door. Attach a popsicle stick at the top with a screw and nut, and you have yourself a latch. Set on a table, you have yourself a baby-chick doll house! You'll love it!
Where were you 6 weeks ago? That sounds like a great idea! Mine are going out to their coop tomorrow, so it's too late for me to do the side door thing. Maybe if I crawl around an all 4's in the coop and run??
I took some large boxes, took them apart, them taped them together to make a big round playpen. Then I sat in the middle and let them get used to me. They would jump on my lap. I put some food in my palm and they would eat from my hand. Of course after this, they hated going back into the brooder..lol
That's a really good idea, too! I have an 'indoor' temporary rabbit pen that I bought when I had guineas for their outside playpen. It would be perfect for keeping the chicks close to a person while outside too, but I really like the idea of making one out of cardboard - genious!