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Things young chickens should be taught?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by potato chip, Jan 13, 2016.

  1. potato chip

    potato chip lunch-sharer Premium Member

    Previously, I've adopted adult chickens. I've got 2 young girls (9wks, 12wks) and I suspect that I've still got the opportunity to imprint some behaviours on them and make sure they grow up "well-adjusted". I've only had them a couple of days, I'm just trying to get them used to me and not to freak out when I go near them. They seem quite tame and don't take too long to come out and have some food with me there and tolerate my presence. I can pick them up if I am able to grab them (they won't walk up to me and let me pick them up).

    Are there other things I should be trying to train them to do/tolerate/accept? At the moment, they are confined to their house/run. I haven't let them roam about in the bigger run, I'll give them some more time to settle in and then let them look around. Up to what age can they learn things and when are they "fully-formed adults"?
     
  2. DRaeMc

    DRaeMc Out Of The Brooder

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    Just to handle them if you want them calmer. Chickens know everything on instinct. They don't need to be taught anything unless you want them to know something.
     
  3. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    Are these two the only chickens you have? Or are there also some adults? Adults are chickens from six months and older.

    Yes, you can teach your chickens, and they are never too old.


    The most useful thing to teach them is to come to you and allow themselves to be handled. It doesn't take long to get them to come when called. You hold out their favorite treat and use the same verbal cue each time to call them. It's useful to put scratch grain in a jar and rattle it, while also using a special word and tone to call them. I like to use a small meal worm carton or a cupped hand with my other finger pointing to it.

    Getting them to permit themselves to be handled takes much longer. And this one is ideally begun in chick-hood. Sit down on the ground, get comfy and hold out treats while calling to them. At first, don't touch them, just let them sit on your legs and lap. Over time, some chickens can get real addicted to hugs and cuddling, taking advantage of a lap presented at the proper height.

    After a few days of this hands-off socializing, start to touch them lightly on the breast and sides of their faces, tickling their ears while they take the treats. After a few days, they will happily come jump into your lap when you sit down with them.

    Over time, the chickens will become more tame and easy to handle, but some breeds will always be stand-offish.

    There isn't much more training to do with hens, but roosters are another matter. I could write a book.
     
  4. potato chip

    potato chip lunch-sharer Premium Member

    I have 4 other adult chooks. These girls fulfil my allowed quota of 6. They are in isolation now to make sure they haven't got anything wrong with them before they meet my other girls.

    I think we are doing quite well on getting them not to fear me and letting me handle them. They already allow it, they are just not completely used to it. Grace let me pet her at the chook farm (that's how she got me to pick her out). I think they have been handled as chicks at the chook farm.

    After they meet the others, I'm hoping they'll join in with the others to come when called (even if they don't learn it on their own beforehand). My other girls come when called (and any time they notice you about, they follow me, and stand at the back door looking in)

    Thanks again, we'll continue working on the handling.
     
  5. potato chip

    potato chip lunch-sharer Premium Member

    I don't want to spam the forum with (stupid) questions about my new chooks, but it's interesting watching "how they are" and I have questions.

    When I fill up their bowl, the smaller one comes straight over and pecks at it (flinging most out, peck, fling, peck, fling, peck, fling) while the other one just stays away. Is that because she's hungrier, or could she be the "bossy one"? Even thought she's younger, could she be the "top chicken" of the pair? (will they have a "pecking order" at their age?)

    When she'd been at the kibble and the water, the older bird "kissed" her. It looked like when a bird gives a baby regurgitated food, but he seemed to be the recipient, rather than the giver. Do chickens (in the wild) feed their young like that? Could he be viewing the younger chook as his "mummy" even though he's older? I've never seen my adult chickens "kissing", not sure what they were doing.

    When do chooks get their "adult voices"? Is it when they get their wattles and combs and start laying? These little chooks just make peep noises.
     
  6. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Chicken Obsessed

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    Their voices will change when they start getting their secondary sexual characteristics. The pecking of the other birds face that you saw, may be anything from grooming behavior to a: "I see you have a speck of food on your cheek. Let me eat tha... er, let me clean that off for you!" Mama chickens don't regurgitate to feed their young, the way pigeons and some other birds do. But they will pick up tidbits of food and offer them from their beak. A rooster will do the same to his favorite hens and with his chicks if he's a good daddy.
     
  7. potato chip

    potato chip lunch-sharer Premium Member

    Thanks. It was beak to beak, not beak to feathers. Interesting that they don't feed their young like other birds. Now I wonder even more why she did that (she didn't do it just the once, either). The little one had been eating, it was the other one who "kissed" her. It wasn't the "eater" bestowing anything on the other one.

    It's so interesting, you could rig up a "chook-cam" and just watch what the chooks are doing. Free entertainment.
     
  8. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    Chicken behavior is indeed fascinating. They have a very complex social structure, and it doesn't always follow age or even gender.

    I have 21 chickens. This past summer, I added five new youngsters (after re-homing two cockerels). One of the pullets is already in the upper third of the pecking order, by virtue of being a precocious little bad-@$$. The cockerel is her age but he gets stomped regularly by many of the older hens and even some of the hens only two years his senior. I have a very old hen who was a real terror in her youth and at the top of the pecking order and is now very near the bottom. (Irene, how the mighty have fallen, I say to her.)

    Even when chicks are still in their first weeks, they are vying for status and rank. Hormones tend to play a role and I can usually spot the cockerels during this period as they're usually the pushy ones.

    As for beaks and food, there are some chicks that are fixated on food on their mates' beaks and they just have to see that it's removed. I have an old hen who has always been the beak and face cleaner. She goes around after everyone has eaten their fermented feed, which tends to stick to faces, and she meticulously cleans up the flock. It's a real hoot.

    They don't call it "chicken TV" for nothing.
     
  9. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Chicken Obsessed

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    I also could watch them all day. Fascinating creatures they are!
     
  10. potato chip

    potato chip lunch-sharer Premium Member

    hahaha, poor Irene, I feel for her. (I have visions of Gloria Swanson in Sunset Boulevard)
     

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