Taming the chicks

clickchicks

Songster
Jun 6, 2020
263
324
136
Texas
I like keeping little video diaries of my progress on things. These pullets were purchased when they were between 2-3 months old. Very well cared for but not individually handled much if at all, so they were very scared when I brought them home.

This is them day one:
myv8JGe.jpg


The two Australorps were especially nervous, heavy breathing, panic noises and would hide in the corner of the coop the second I 'd come near. The Plymouth and Sapphire were also nervous but were much quicker to go about their normal business.

Mostly left them alone day 1, went in to add some food and scoop some poop but didn't really mess with them. Day two I caught some grasshoppers from the garden to toss at them and suddenly life got much better! Still a little leery of me but the Plymouth and Sapphire were happy to run up and grab a hopper from my hand. The Australorps were definitely still keeping their distance.

We're on day 3 and my have the tables turned! Suddenly, I am very popular:
https://mytwogermans.tumblr.com%2Fpost%2F620288441413943296
The smaller Australorp is still a little nervous but much less afraid. The others are happy to approach my hand and peck around for some treats :)

The long term goal is get them comfortable enough with me that I can start work on some conditioning exercises. Mission #1: train them to willingly go into a carrier. I sadly don't have a fully fenced property for them to free roam, but I'm almost done building a nice tractor so they can still be moved around the yard to graze.

Always interested in hearing people's tips and success stories on taming down scaredy chickens!
 

CalBickieMomma

Songster
Jul 27, 2019
653
1,275
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San Luis Obispo County, CA
I usually get my Littles at a day old, so hold them lots and talk to them (in my normal voice and sometimes I make mama chicken clucks and sounds at them - I’m a crazy chicken lady, what did you expect? ;)).

For my older chickens - who were hatched and raised by their semi-feral mother - I handled more later when mama chicken was ready to be done with them. They were used to seeing me (she was in a pen with them that I went into daily), but I didn’t handle them a lot. They are now almost a year old and although they won’t jump in my lap like the ones I raised from day one, I can easily pick them up and pet them without them really freaking out.

I think it also depends on the individual chicken and breed. My two SL Wyandottes - raised by me with the others - hate to be picked up/held.

Anyhoo, I’m typically very hands on and interact with my chicks a lot. I often get people asking how I get my chickens to be so tame, and tell them the trick is lots of handling and interacting.
 

clickchicks

Songster
Jun 6, 2020
263
324
136
Texas
Good to hear that even the older, mama-raised chicks are comfortable with you! Being able to pick them up without totally freaking them out would be ideal in my case, but its ok if they aren't super affectionate with me (I would love that, but I wont be heartbroken if it doesn't happen).

I'm slowly working my way towards more direct handling. Right now if I move my hand towards them (without food) they are still a little skittish and will jump back.

Before adding their food into the feeder I've been putting some in my hand and letting them eat from there first. So far so good, even the most timid Australorp is coming up to me now.
 

CalBickieMomma

Songster
Jul 27, 2019
653
1,275
236
San Luis Obispo County, CA
Good to hear that even the older, mama-raised chicks are comfortable with you! Being able to pick them up without totally freaking them out would be ideal in my case, but its ok if they aren't super affectionate with me (I would love that, but I wont be heartbroken if it doesn't happen).

I'm slowly working my way towards more direct handling. Right now if I move my hand towards them (without food) they are still a little skittish and will jump back.

Before adding their food into the feeder I've been putting some in my hand and letting them eat from there first. So far so good, even the most timid Australorp is coming up to me now.
That sounds like good progress! The mama hen of mine, Larke, is skittish (she was a stray game hen from the neighbor’s yard - they raise lots of chickens and many roam free. I rescued her from my dogs and kept her, so she wasn’t used to human interaction).

Larke won’t eat out of my hand and she tries to escape when I try to catch her and wants to be let go when I do, but all my others are pretty tame so I’m not in a hurry to make her more comfortable with me, but I might make more effort someday.

But don’t be afraid to ‘catch’ and hold yours. That’s how I tamed down the older chicks - I’d pick them up every time I was in their pen and hold them and eventually they tamed down. Good luck!
 

clickchicks

Songster
Jun 6, 2020
263
324
136
Texas
But don’t be afraid to ‘catch’ and hold yours. That’s how I tamed down the older chicks - I’d pick them up every time I was in their pen and hold them and eventually they tamed down. Good luck!

Thank you for that encouragement! I've been afraid of handling them too much too fast because I don't want to scare them, but I also need to be able to move them around to their tractor with minimal fuss. The faster I get there the happier they will be, I'm sure.

Updates for today.
I've finally settled on names for everyone. Chacha (blue pullet) is by far the most workable. Today I bribed her to jump into my hand a couple of times to get treats, now she flings herself at me anytime I crouch down haha. We've apparently become friends, she'll now also let me (slowly) reach over and pick her up for a few seconds without any fuss at all.

Lucy (Plymouth) still does not fully trust me but she also jumped into my hand for treats. I was able to pick her up a few times while she was distracted with treats. Didn't love it but didn't put up too much fuss and was right back to my hand for more treats.

The Australorps still hate my guts but we're getting there. The larger of the two (Beatrice) is fine coming up to me for treats but will quickly run away of I make any movement towards her. I was able to corner and pick her up, was not happy at all, but I held tight until she calmed down a little and gave her a treat before I put her down. Hopefully the good will outweigh the bad on that one.

The smaller one (Becky) bolts if I even look in her direction so I didn't push my luck.

An unrelated video just for fun:
https://mytwogermans.tumblr.com%2Fpost%2F620472549928730624
 

CalBickieMomma

Songster
Jul 27, 2019
653
1,275
236
San Luis Obispo County, CA
Thank you for that encouragement! I've been afraid of handling them too much too fast because I don't want to scare them, but I also need to be able to move them around to their tractor with minimal fuss. The faster I get there the happier they will be, I'm sure.

Updates for today.
I've finally settled on names for everyone. Chacha (blue pullet) is by far the most workable. Today I bribed her to jump into my hand a couple of times to get treats, now she flings herself at me anytime I crouch down haha. We've apparently become friends, she'll now also let me (slowly) reach over and pick her up for a few seconds without any fuss at all.

Lucy (Plymouth) still does not fully trust me but she also jumped into my hand for treats. I was able to pick her up a few times while she was distracted with treats. Didn't love it but didn't put up too much fuss and was right back to my hand for more treats.

The Australorps still hate my guts but we're getting there. The larger of the two (Beatrice) is fine coming up to me for treats but will quickly run away of I make any movement towards her. I was able to corner and pick her up, was not happy at all, but I held tight until she calmed down a little and gave her a treat before I put her down. Hopefully the good will outweigh the bad on that one.

The smaller one (Becky) bolts if I even look in her direction so I didn't push my luck.

An unrelated video just for fun:
https://mytwogermans.tumblr.com%2Fpost%2F620472549928730624
Yay! Sounds like you‘re making progress! :wee
 

clickchicks

Songster
Jun 6, 2020
263
324
136
Texas
We have liftoff!

CWGnAuw.jpg


Chacha (pictured) and Lucy have become tolerant of me gently scooping them up and holding. Chacha will even jump into my arms if she suspects there are treats!

The Australorp ladies are still on the fence, but I can usually manage to gently lift them up for a few seconds without panic. If I try to actually stand up with them they start to panic, so we're going slow.
 

clickchicks

Songster
Jun 6, 2020
263
324
136
Texas
Let the ladies out of the coop for the first time today! We are coming along nicely, as I was able to grab everyone with minimal fuss to move them back and forth. I still don't have the chicken tractor finished but the old dog crate works for now to give them some foraging time.

IMG_1111.jpg


Slow progress on the tractor. I still need to build up the shade box area and install the roof. I found an old screen door to use, still debating on if I want to go with that or my original plan of regular hardware cloth and a smaller latch opening. The chickens will only be in this for a few hours during the day, away from any predators that might strong enough to rip the screen, so it really just needs to keep hawks away and keep them contained.

IMG_1103.jpg
 

clickchicks

Songster
Jun 6, 2020
263
324
136
Texas
Grapes today!

https://mytwogermans.tumblr.com%2Fpost%2F622570195280609280
Lucy is actually starting to show some color in her face and little tiny bit of a comb. The Australorps and Chacha still look like little babies, though. I should have written down their exact ages, but I think everyone is between 14 and 16 weeks old now.

I was finally able to get some more hardware cloth so the tractor will officially be finished this weekend and I can ditch the dog kennels :fl
 

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