Terrified baby chicks?

Khzoeller

In the Brooder
Aug 29, 2019
8
32
41
I have 4 new baby silkie chicks and I have held, pet and talked to every chick at least once a day... My favorite chick at least 3 times a day and yet they all seem absolutely terrified of me.... Do i just keep trying or let them get a bit older? I'm guessing they are about 2 weeks old maybe 3...
 

CountryFlock

Songster
7 Years
Apr 24, 2014
558
478
216
United States
Some breeds are just like that. I did the same thing with my first chickens. I’ve found that you need to spend a lot of time for them to not be afraid. I probably spent an 1+ Hours a day with my first chickens and their whole life they would come to me. Food or not.

English bred Orpingtons I found are super docile and literally aren’t bothered if you try to pick them up. In my case even if you don’t spend time with them.

I believe not enough time is being spent with them plus them being silkies doesn’t help too much.

I believe any chick can be calm around someone as long as enough time has been spent with them.
 

CalBickieMomma

Songster
Jul 27, 2019
927
1,726
246
San Luis Obispo County, CA
Sounds like it's a Silkie thing (according to previous posts). I handle my chicks all the time when I get them, from day one. I make them a ''hot pocket'' (basically a pillow case lined with fleece I put them in on my lap so I can 'hold' them and keep them warm while reading a book or something along those lines). I make momma chicken sounds at them and pick them up and let them sit on my hand in their brooder. I make the momma chicken ''food here!'' sound while pointing at a speck of food with my finger. I constantly talk to them and let them climb all over me.

Having said all that, my two Wyandottes - who were given all the love the others were given - have never warmed up to being held. They'll stand on my hand, but they hate it when I pick them up. I'm lucky if they decide to sit in my lap with the others when I'm in the coop.

Having said all that, though, they know I'm their person and they are comfortable with me being around and aren't afraid of me. I figure they're just the kind of people who don't like hugs ;). Hopefully your Silkies won't be as aloof as my girls :).
 

Shezadandy

Crowing
6 Years
5 Years
Sep 26, 2015
2,395
3,099
407
Portland OR
Thanks everyone! I'll keep handling them and loving on them. Wish me luck!

What I've found works best with skittish chicks: On days when you've got time to do this - make the association between their food and water and you and your hands.

If you choose to follow this, don't make food/water giving time about trying to touch them or handle them until they're running your hands over with their sweet little feet . Talk, of course.

The food and water will come and go with you each time. Each time you make sure they get their fill, then take the food and water with you. This is only during the day when you can return at regular intervals, at all other times they should have full access to food and water.

The first few times, you may have to back off completely while they eat and drink, and you may even have to walk away. Whatever interval you choose- say hourly, first put the food dish down, then the water after the eating slows. How ever close you can be while they eat and drink, do that. No reaching, no petting, just be. If they'll come up to the food dish when your hand is there, great- but still no touching.

It will probably take some time. I just went through this when a first time momma hen turned out to be a chick killer. So they went from being broody raised from hatch to a week and some days to having me - and a heater. They were really scared of me, ran to the corner and it was just sad. Eventually though, once they figured out that hands = things they want, I had to push them back from the door every time I went in. It didn't happen overnight, but time and patience paid off.

What mine (with however many dozens I've raised) really love is running water. A happy accident, I started using a pitcher to fill my shallow chick dishes so I could fill them higher and not slosh it all over. Filled only 1/4 of the way allows for volume/flow control. They now run each other over to get in position to drink from the pitcher spout, and that means being very close to me!

That's not to say every one loves being handled, but if they can be in very close proximity ad will come up to get food and their special waterfall, and to me, that's good enough. The friendly ones will start crawling up the arm up to a shoulder to hang out, jumping onto a leg and so forth, which is neat when it happens. The ones that like contact get snuggled as mentioned above in "hot pocket" form while watching TV or what have you.

I would wait to give each chick it's handling time at night when they're drowsy - if the handling starts off with the chick trying to run away, it doesn't really achieve the people are good message. If they go from a nice warm bed to nice warm hands, it can be a calmer experience. The less they run from hands, the better things will go.

So, there's my $5. =) If you can make extra special friends with one of them, that can be the ice breaker for the others. Patience and positive association!
 

centrarchid

Crossing the Road
12 Years
Sep 19, 2009
26,454
18,031
876
Holts Summit, Missouri
What I've found works best with skittish chicks: On days when you've got time to do this - make the association between their food and water and you and your hands.

If you choose to follow this, don't make food/water giving time about trying to touch them or handle them until they're running your hands over with their sweet little feet . Talk, of course.

The food and water will come and go with you each time. Each time you make sure they get their fill, then take the food and water with you. This is only during the day when you can return at regular intervals, at all other times they should have full access to food and water.

The first few times, you may have to back off completely while they eat and drink, and you may even have to walk away. Whatever interval you choose- say hourly, first put the food dish down, then the water after the eating slows. How ever close you can be while they eat and drink, do that. No reaching, no petting, just be. If they'll come up to the food dish when your hand is there, great- but still no touching.

It will probably take some time. I just went through this when a first time momma hen turned out to be a chick killer. So they went from being broody raised from hatch to a week and some days to having me - and a heater. They were really scared of me, ran to the corner and it was just sad. Eventually though, once they figured out that hands = things they want, I had to push them back from the door every time I went in. It didn't happen overnight, but time and patience paid off.

What mine (with however many dozens I've raised) really love is running water. A happy accident, I started using a pitcher to fill my shallow chick dishes so I could fill them higher and not slosh it all over. Filled only 1/4 of the way allows for volume/flow control. They now run each other over to get in position to drink from the pitcher spout, and that means being very close to me!

That's not to say every one loves being handled, but if they can be in very close proximity ad will come up to get food and their special waterfall, and to me, that's good enough. The friendly ones will start crawling up the arm up to a shoulder to hang out, jumping onto a leg and so forth, which is neat when it happens. The ones that like contact get snuggled as mentioned above in "hot pocket" form while watching TV or what have you.

I would wait to give each chick it's handling time at night when they're drowsy - if the handling starts off with the chick trying to run away, it doesn't really achieve the people are good message. If they go from a nice warm bed to nice warm hands, it can be a calmer experience. The less they run from hands, the better things will go.

So, there's my $5. =) If you can make extra special friends with one of them, that can be the ice breaker for the others. Patience and positive association!
I do similar with American Game and American Dominique. Another trick that expedites the love is use of live meal worms. Even when satiated on feed, they bonkers over the meals worms and quickly come running for that. At moment I have really skididish game chicks that have been handled very little. Little more than a couple hours will be needed to get birds tamed and coming when called.
 

ellend

Songster
10 Years
Jul 24, 2010
513
445
231
cleveland, ohio
Some breeds are just like that. I did the same thing with my first chickens. I’ve found that you need to spend a lot of time for them to not be afraid. I probably spent an 1+ Hours a day with my first chickens and their whole life they would come to me. Food or not.

English bred Orpingtons I found are super docile and literally aren’t bothered if you try to pick them up. In my case even if you don’t spend time with them.

I believe not enough time is being spent with them plus them being silkies doesn’t help too much.

I believe any chick can be calm around someone as long as enough time has been spent with them.
Every silkie we had was docile. They may well calm down when they get older. I've read (about Easter Eggers) that some are wild as chicks, and calm with the hormonal change when they begin to lay. My current chicks are about 17 weeks; considered me the devil as chicks and young pullets. Now that they are free-ranging in my back yard, they are learning that my presence means tasty morsels. Yours will probably calm down.
 

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