Taming Chicks

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by Davidally122, Aug 26, 2013.

  1. Davidally122

    Davidally122 Out Of The Brooder

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    I need help with ideas to tame my chicks. They're 3 wks and will eat out of my hand, but act like I'm murdering them when I pick one up. Our coop is an A-frame with run underneath, so if I can't handle them, I will have a hard time checking on their health and such. Thanks
     
  2. Judy

    Judy Chicken Obsessed Staff Member Premium Member

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    Usually when people try to pick one up, they do it from above, which sets off their instinct to run from birds of prey. If you can get down there and approach mostly from the side, they should accept it better. Mostly it's just a lot of patience, sitting with them, letting them eat out of your hand or just explore your hand which is sitting quietly in their brooder. Try not to force anything; for example, don't pick one up until it is walking around on your hand, or sitting on it. It also works best if you start right after they hatch or dry off, as they can imprint on you.
     
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  3. chooks4life

    chooks4life Overrun With Chickens

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    I usually handle them right after hatching to start with. If you respond to its noises it will partially imprint onto you. It is important that however your interactions began, they end peacefully. It is good not to force things, and picking them up from the side and underneath is better than grabbing them from above. I have a rule to not release them if they're panicking, which applies more to adults who haven't been handled before. They're allowed to peacefully walk away once they've settled but if they won't I'll just hold them until they do. The animal has to come to the point where it understands you intend it no harm. Once they know what to expect they'll settle and allow you to hold them. Treats are always good. ;)

    You'll come across many naysayers who don't believe chickens should be handled because they're birds, or because they're livestock, but both lines of reasoning don't hold up for many reasons. Normally, livestock of all species including birds must be able to be handled for their own wellbeing and safety, for treatment and other reasons, etc; and livestock that are never handled limit the application of good husbandry methods with their fear. Also they're much more dangerous for us to handle too. Chickens have been domesticated for uncounted generations and handling to some degree has been practiced throughout that span.

    The main reason we have flighty chickens is due I believe to owners who don't believe they should be handled, because they undo the work others have done by not reinforcing it. Each to their own I guess. Some people think all birds are prone to heart attacks when handled, but this is also not the case, no more than it is with sheep, cows, cats and dogs etc (which also can have stress induced heart attacks). Other people say they can always tell when their chooks need treatment because then they don't flee, they allow themselves to be handled. Problem being that by the time the terrified bird is unable to act on its terror like usual, it's already far gone, so treatment stands a greatly lessened chance of success, and just the act of being treated will terrify the animal beyond reason. There's no need for livestock nor pets to fear their owners.

    Some people believe that roosters/males in general are better not handled so they are afraid and therefore theoretically less likely to attack you, but leaders in the livestock industries in Australia place great importance on males being able to be handled, not wild, and cull for any excessive flightiness, no matter the species. Frightened livestock are unproductive and dangerous livestock. Of course any animal, tame or not, can attack you, but being tame in my experience vastly decreases the likelihood. A male's likeliness to attack you depends on his mentality, not how tame or wild/afraid he is, and gender is the least of the considerations. It's a deeper underlying issue irrespective of his handling history; just because he's a male does not mean he automatically views everything else as something to be either mated or attacked. All my males are friendly and I have had a total of one attack a human out of many hundreds of males. This single rooster was not bred nor originally handled by me, I got him as a juvenile, from a lady who bred vicious males due to her beliefs on males.

    Sorry to ramble on, but I believe you're on the right track with deciding to tame them, and since this is a bit of a controversial subject for some, I'm just offering my reasons why I believe you're better off with tame livestock. They're better off too. It's a bit pointlessly tragic when you lose a good animal because of its unreasoning fear of humans, just because the time was never taken to help it overcome that fear. Best wishes.
     
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  4. Davidally122

    Davidally122 Out Of The Brooder

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    Thank you. I'm not going to give up.
     
  5. chooks4life

    chooks4life Overrun With Chickens

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    Best wishes with them. I'm keen to hear how you go.
     
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2013
  6. appps

    appps Overrun With Chickens

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    I think breed has a little to do with it too. Our first lot of bantams we got at 4 weeks and never got quiet enough to pick up.

    We bought faverolles at ten weeks and two weeks later could pick them up easily. I don't really think we did anything differently but the favs just stand there for us to pick up the bantams dodge us though I can catch them fairly easily now
     
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2013
  7. lilypad

    lilypad Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My chicks were 3 weeks when I got them, they were very scared and skittish at first, but completely changed when I started giving them mealworms! They soon recognised the rattle of the bag and would jump all over me for them. Then I would slowly start picking them up and giving them mealworms whilst I was holding them. Now they're 19 weeks and jump on my shoulders whenever I crouch down haha!

    I also agree 100% with chooks4life. I don't understand why some people are against handling chickens, it makes it an awful lot easier when they need to go to the vets or have medication. Chickens are so good at pretending they're well that when they're at the stage where a chicken who usually wouldn't let you near them is allowing you to pick them up with no fight - that chicken is giving up.
    And also things are much easier for both people and chickens when they are comfortable around you. My chickens also jump on me and purr so they I think they enjoy the attention [​IMG]
     
  8. chooks4life

    chooks4life Overrun With Chickens

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    Quote: Definitely, I notice chooks have a happy noise like a quiet rattly purr they do when snuggling each other or a person. And happy healthy stock are productive to the fullest extent, and they can't be completely happy in their environment unless they're at ease with the presence of humans.

    Quote: I blame the breeder not the breed, since in my experience it is the latest few generations, not all the ones that came before, that makes the difference. More strain than breed, in that case.

    Anyone can take a tame breed and teach it to fear humans, and soon they'll start to incorporate that reaction into being a family characteristic that is inherited; and conversely, anyone can take a flighty breed and tame it.

    The longer people have bred flighty birds into any strain, though, the more likely it is that the behavior crops up in each generation for a while despite efforts to breed it out. I don't breed any bird that refuses to tame, which seems to help quickly with breeding friendly generations as a rule.
     
  9. ChickieG'ma

    ChickieG'ma Chillin' With My Peeps

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    This spring when we got our chicks in the mail I made up my mind to really concentrate on getting them tame. There was room in their area so I climed in with a towel to sit on and some chick food in a bowl and started to offer them hands full of food. Before I knew it I had 35 chicks climbing all over my legs and up my chest to find more food. I did this every day for about a week and now, even though I have less and less time to spend on them like that, there are still some that are very tame and the whole bunch is friendlier and the previous year's chicks.
     
  10. Obrienm

    Obrienm Out Of The Brooder

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    Congrats on your chicks sweetie! Now, when you feed the wee devils, just lightly click your fingers. Not so loud as to startle the wee ones, but loud enough so as you'll be heard. then, when you pick them up come the mornin, just make the same wee clicking sound the relax them and make them happy. Have a jolly day now,
    ME!
     

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