Tips for making chicks friendly...

amanda802

In the Brooder
May 4, 2015
35
0
24
I got 7 blue laced red Wyandotte chicks yesterday. They're 11 days old today. They seem very skittish, is there a way to start working to make them more friendly? I'm pretty new to this. :)
 

fnwolffie

Chirping
5 Years
Apr 15, 2015
94
16
91
Temecula, ca
Following :)
I bought 5 chicks 3 weeks ago and only one likes to be held and pet and jumps out of the brooder to see me. Everyone else runs around like crazy trying not to be caught.
 

amanda802

In the Brooder
May 4, 2015
35
0
24
Mine just seem to scatter when I get near the brooder. Good luck, maybe someone has tips :)
 

sophiaw00

Songster
Apr 27, 2015
548
45
108
Illinois
The OP's chicks are probably just a little scared. They just got to their new home and are settling in. They need some time to rest. Eventually, they'll probably start warming up to you.

Here's my tips:
1. Know that not all chickens are going to be cuddly, no matter how much you handle them. I got 8 chickens and even my friendliest one who runs up to greet me, doesn't cuddle or jump into my lap like so many people (including me) want. Every chicken is different.
2. Spend time with them. When I first got my girls at 4 weeks old, I was afraid I had missed the window of being able to have social chickens since they were already older. They weren't skittish (well some of them were, but most weren't) but they didn't enjoy being picked up or even touched. They did eat out of my hand though. I would spend hours in the garage with them just watching them or playing on my phone. I'd lean up against their brooder and be on BYC while playing music. They know my presence is there and the music helps get used to voices.
3. Treats. You can start feeding them treats at one week old, but I'd wait until at least 2 weeks so that they don't get runny poop. My girls got grass, dried mealworms, earthworms from the ground, old fashioned oats, weeds and strawberry heads. I fed them the treats right out of my hand so they had to come up to get them. I always had a few that wouldn't come up to me and a few that would always be the first ones and get most of the treats. The ones that didn't come up to me, will come up to me now but don't usually eat out of my hand. They will eat the treats that the other chickens dropped.
4. Let them come to you. Chasing the chickens around with your hand is going to scare them and make them think you aren't safe. If you have a safe outdoor area or a really large brooder, you can sit on the ground with them. They will eventually get curious and come to you. They will climb on you, peck you curiously, and cock their heads at you. Keep treats by you to reward them.
5. Talk to them. Whenever I go into my coop to do chores, I say hi to every one of them. As I'm walking to the coop I yell "hey chicy chickies!" and I hear peeping in return. Inside the coop, I tell them what I'm doing such as "Wow you guys ate quite a lot of food last night, here I'll fill it up for you guys. Do you need more grit? Yeah? Ok I'll get that too." This helps them learn my voice and comforts them. At night when I go to lock them up in their coop, I say goodnight to each of them, using their names, and stroke their backs/heads..."Goodnight, Dixie. Goodnight, Pepper. Goodnight, April...."

My chicks prefer to scratch for bugs in the dirt but are overall pretty friendly. I don't expect much more than that from them. Afterall they are chickens and foraging is what they do.
 

Toddrick

Songster
5 Years
Sep 28, 2014
1,251
109
156
Indiana
Following :)
I bought 5 chicks 3 weeks ago and only one likes to be held and pet and jumps out of the brooder to see me. Everyone else runs around like crazy trying not to be caught.


Money is on that one being a cockerel. They are very outgoing and like to stick their necks out and be curious.

My chicks started liking me a whole lot when I started feeding them wet feed as a treat. Now that they are grown they still eat out of my hand, but don't like being touched.
 

azygous

Enabler
11 Years
Dec 11, 2009
23,308
33,343
1,122
Colorado Rockies
Sophia gave you a list of very good suggestions. I have two points to make in addition to those great suggestions.

The first point is that not all breeds are good candidates for friendly interaction. I'm sorry to have to tell you Wyandottes are not among the naturally friendly breeds. However, they do sometimes come around, but it may take years for them to trust you enough.

The second point is you need to be very careful to handle any and all chicks at their level, reaching in from the side. If you have been reaching down for your chicks from up above them, almost all chicks will be naturally frightened. This is because they have an instinct to fear anything diving at them from up above. Think hawks.

One thing to understand about chicken behavior is that they learn from observing other chickens, and if a chicken in the flock is friendly toward you and trusts you to hold them and they appear to be enjoying it, the stand-offish chickens watch this and learn from it, actually slowly building up their own trust for you, even though you aren't handling them.

I have Wyandottes who have never permitted me to touch them, without major drama, that is. However, after years of watching the lead hen, who happens to be a Brahma, a very friendly breed, interact with me, a couple of my Wyandottes are just now deciding they want to cuddle now. They are seven and six years of age respectively.

Even though your Wyandottes are not naturally friendly, if you are careful how you handle them as chicks, you can establish trust that your Wyandottes will build on. If you aren't in a big rush, give them space and time, they will eventually warm up to you.
 

amanda802

In the Brooder
May 4, 2015
35
0
24
Thanks everyone for the tips! I have started giving them treats and while they're certainly not excited to see me, they do seem to be more curious. They're still in a stock tank (that is my brooder), so I do have to reach from the top. Tomorrow they're moving out to the coop with their heat lamp so hopefully I can start getting them into a routine.

I'm not necessarily looking for them to be cuddly, I suppose, but it would be nice if they weren't completely terrified of me :)
 

shodack

Songster
Mar 19, 2015
392
46
121
central NY
Amanda, a heads up that moving them out to the coop will feel like you've lost all the ground you gained with them getting friendlier. Mine have been out for a week, and even my two friendly ones, who used to jump right out of the brooder to see me and let me pet them will still have nothing to do with me. All 6 stay as far from me as possible. I'm hoping (and have been told) that after everything isn't so new they will relax some.
 

Toddrick

Songster
5 Years
Sep 28, 2014
1,251
109
156
Indiana
Amanda, a heads up that moving them out to the coop will feel like you've lost all the ground you gained with them getting friendlier. Mine have been out for a week, and even my two friendly ones, who used to jump right out of the brooder to see me and let me pet them will still have nothing to do with me. All 6 stay as far from me as possible. I'm hoping (and have been told) that after everything isn't so new they will relax some. 


I raised half a dozen from egg, holding them for hours a day everyday, and after putting them in the coop they never let me touch them again. They are just independent and their adult behavior is dominated by instinct. They stil eat out of my hand, but if I reach out to touch them they run. They do usually come to me when I call, so I'm happy about that.
 

MANNA-PRO

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