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Taming older chickens

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by meissel, Sep 9, 2008.

  1. meissel

    meissel Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 23, 2008
    Goodview, VA
    I got six laying hens and a rooster from a farmer in the area two months ago. They are one and two years old and mixed varieties. I don't know if they have been handled by humans before. I've been working very hard to get on their good side with sunflowers and night crawlers and tomatoes along with their layer's pellets and scratch feed. Two of them now approach me in hopes of a worm. So do I grab them and hold them? How do I transition into holding them? It was suggested by a friend that I pick them up at night while they are sleeping. That sounds worth a try. I just don't want to traumatize them and make things worse between us. What do you think?
     
  2. Mahonri

    Mahonri Urban Desert Chicken Enthusiast Premium Member

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    Once they are a little older it's got to be harder.

    My 14 year old has just gotten good at walking up to them and picking them up... they've got to be close to laying because they just squat and he picks them up. Some of them like to have their waddles stroked!
     
  3. ILoveJoe

    ILoveJoe Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My rooster was given to me as an adult bird and he was apparantly raised with little handling. I can pick him up off a roost or out of his hutch and he will flap but settles down very nicely in my arms, I have put him into the bath tub, scrubbed his legs and even given him a bath. He is very calm. If I tried to catch him during the day, he totally freaks out. He is just starting to come up to me for treats and has started taking them from my hand. I guess someday he'll let me pick him up...? I am not holding my breath though.
     
  4. Ugly Cowboy

    Ugly Cowboy Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 25, 2008
    Corn, OK
    Well, pickin up at nights a great idea, they'll be a heck of a lot calmer when there half asleep! And try to feed 'em table scraps (or bugs ya find layin around) out of your hand, it'll take a while, but eventually they'll get close enuff.
     
  5. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

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    IMO, grabbing them when they are roosting at night would only traumatize them.
    Try sitting with them when you can, talk quietly and move slowly.
    Since you've already figured out they like treats, try sitting down and instead of holding the treats out for them keep the treats in a bowl on your lap where they can see them. Sooner or later one of them is bound to let their desire for the treats overcome their fear and they are gonna jump up to help themselves. When they do move realllll slow and try to stroke their chest with one or two fingers. It takes time and patience, but it can be done.
     
  6. meissel

    meissel Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 23, 2008
    Goodview, VA
    I take a chair in their run and sit with them. That's how I feed them worms. I can have a tug-of-war with the one that is most obsessed with the worms. It is the next step that is troubling me. I like the bowl on the lap idea. I will try that next. If that does not bring us into contact then I'll try the night time approach. I can envision a break through with Brownie the worm lover, but what about the other 6? Do you think if I cross the personal space boundary with one that the others will learn? Is anyone else out there worried about whether their chickens like them or not?
     
  7. LuvinMyPeeps

    LuvinMyPeeps Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I do too! It it's any consolation, I was *snubbed* yesterday by my Delaware. (I know this is kind of stupid, but it hurt my feelings!) She kept running away and I was in a stubborn mood so I grabbed her and sat down with her, but she kept trying to wriggle away. [​IMG] Today I held out some treats and she tentatively started to come to my hand, but then shied away when I moved. I finally gave up, went inside their run and snatched her up (slowly). I've found if you try to grab them from above they get skittish, but if you move your hand underneath their bellies very slowly and then kind of lift them up, they don't get so scared. That seemed to work better today. She still wasn't super happy that I was holding her, but after about 15 minutes of stroking her head and shoulderblades she started relaxing and blinking her eyes slowly and hopefully realizes that I wasn't the devil [​IMG]. (This was around 3 pm during the day). I guess just keep trying over and over until she gets tired of you and realizes you bring the 'good stuff'! I think consistency is the key. Try to do it everyday. I am trying to hold each of my girls daily so they'll get used to me.

    I know this is a wierd idea, but have you tried singing? That worked with one of my babies....I had to giggle...the thought of anyone hearing me sing to a chicken....oh brother!!!
     
  8. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

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    Quote:Chickens are very much monkey see, monkey do. What's liable to happen is that one will take a chance on jumping up in your lap, the others will watch and take note that the brave one didn't die a horrible death from getting up there, so they'll work up the courage too. Food is the best motivator for chickens.
    I used to worry about whether my chickens liked me or not. Now they follow me around and I take secret quilty pleasure in the fact that they ignore my SO; well except for Lilith who is convinced all humans are made of food and will give some up if they bug 'em long enough. The reality is that most chickens just love food and they tolerate us humans and even humor us with hugs and petting because they can't drive to the feed store.
     
  9. meissel

    meissel Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 23, 2008
    Goodview, VA
    Thank you Gritsar! Brownie jumped up in my lap today and took the worms. I was able to stroke her lightly a few times. I see how this can work out now. You're a genius! Thanks.
     
  10. debilorrah

    debilorrah The Great Guru of Yap Premium Member

    Honestly I think grabbing them at night would scare the peewaddin outta the poor things. I go in there at night to get them used to me, but I only pet the ones that don't back away. I have had them almost 3 weeks, and there are two that let me pet them regularly. The roo is wary, but calm and he lets me pet him too. I hae only been able to catch one of the hens, and after that she was afraid of me. So be patient.... Easier said than done!!
     

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