treats creating mayhem?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by GoodEgg, Jun 16, 2007.

  1. GoodEgg

    GoodEgg Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 12, 2007
    NW Florida
    Hey everyone,

    I have a question ... ?

    I've been feeding a little egg yolk for a while. When they first got used to it, it was a free-for-all with whoever could get some grabbing a chunk and running for dear life with half a dozen others chasing and trying to snatch it away. They seemed to settle down, a LITTLE, after being fed egg yolk a few times. Still it's kinda crazy.

    (I have been sprinkling a little parakeet grit on their food since I started the egg yolk, though not EVERY feeder filling.)

    Tonight I fed them a large spoonful of cooked sticky rice for the first time, and it really did get bad in there. (They are about 2 weeks old, 26 chicks, mixed heavy layers and banties.) Whoever got a gob of rice would run like mad, and others would peck at the face to try to steal it, and everyone was chirping like crazy, and they were all running around, running over each other, and skidding to a stop in front of me. They pinched my hands, HARD once, trying to get the rice.

    I have seen people mention their chickens chase each other for treats, and go a little crazy. I guess I just wanted to make sure that I might not be encouraging bad behavior, or fights, or scaring some of them too much. The banties get right in there with the big ones, btw, and are just as often trying to snatch the rice from the big ones' beaks.

    Is it ok to feed them treats in this way? Also, is there any reason I don't want to feed by hand? I want them to be tame and to want to come to me. None of them likes to be picked up right now. I have to "catch" them. A few of them settle down and like to be held and petted once caught, and a few just cry. Most struggle at least a little.

    I just want to know I'm on the right track with feeding and petting. I haven't had chicks since I was a little girl, I think my grandma put them into the coop after only a few days in the utility room. They were never pets either.

    Thanks for any advice!

    trish
     
  2. Judymae

    Judymae Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 22, 2007
    Merit, Tx
    My little girls are almost 3 weeks old. There is 13 of them. I do treats alot and they act like maniacs! If I give them grit they act crazy. I think they'll calm down after they realize that the treats come often. Right now they just think it's a one time thing. Mine loooove yogurt and mashed egg yolks. They jump all over each other trying to get to it first and to get the most. I love it. As soon as they are finished it's nap time!
     
  3. Slim

    Slim Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 16, 2007
    Portage Michigan
    Well, first off, I'm going to come clean. I've never treated my chickens like "pets" so I may be off track, but I'm gonna spout off anyway:)

    If I were trying to train a chicken I would do it like I train my dogs. They must focus on me. I have the treat. When it looks at me it gets a treat. It would seem that if a chick can steal a treat from another chick, then it doesn't really need you does it?

    I would think that by removing a chick one at a time, holding it in your lap, petting it and what-not, then giving the treat, would eventually condition the chick to anticipate that the big-ol hand reaching into brooder will eventually give it a treat, That would be even easier than stealing it from a sibling.
    But that seams like alot of individual one-on-one time.
    My next door neighbor has been able to lure my hens and roosters over to her patio, where she feeds tem bits of left-over breakfast in the morning. They don't let her pick them up, but they do eat from her hand.

    Ok I'm done.[​IMG] I hope that helped. [​IMG]
     
  4. GoodEgg

    GoodEgg Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 12, 2007
    NW Florida
    Thanks to you both. [​IMG]

    Judy, I'm glad to know that at least it's normal. I had read other people's posts and I wasn't sure if they would normally be quite so crazy. Mine sound just like yours, so at least I know they are not abnormal. I'm still concerned that I might be encouraging them to fight or something the way they chase and steal, but it seems that's normal for adult chickens too, so maybe it's ok?

    And Slim, I understand perfectly. Our chickens were always for eggs and meat, and not pets. So I didn't know either. Well ... except I do have pics of me as a 2 year old ... apparently I DID have a pet chicken I called "Biddy" and used to carry it around, even when grown. But I don't remember much about it. I see what you mean about handling them that way though. I have a few "favorites" from the hospital cage who are either smaller or just not as aggressive as the others, and I often do pick them up and try to feed them the treats. Weird thing is that they generally are liking to be held and petted, but they don't want treats from me then? They usually ignore the food.

    I think I will keep trying. It would be more fun, I think, to pull them out one by one and feed them treats. Right now I get ants in the room they are in, and the floor is tile, so I pull out a Black sex-link or two (they are the best of mine at eating ants) and turn them loose, and they don't mind at all being picked up anymore. They will usually come right to me and stand there, so that kinda proves your point. Last night I even used them to "train" a few of the RIR's to search out ants in the room. Funny how they watch each other and learn. The black Australorp I tried isn't getting it though. But many of them will search out any ants in the brooder. Just not on the floor.

    (And I absolutely HATE ants! If there is an ant around, it WILL bite me, and usually no one else. My feet are all weird-looking right now from tons of painful ant bites in last few weeks. I want all ants to DIE! lol)

    Thanks, both, for the replies. I guess I'll keep doing what I'm doing when I'm busy, but when I have the time I'll definitely try the one-on-one. Now that I think of it, I'm not sure I want 26 VERY attached chickens anyway. Just a few should be good, and I have a few already on their way to that.

    Thanks!
    trish
     
  5. schmoo

    schmoo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 7, 2007
    West MI.
    Hey Trish-

    I have 26 mixed breeds also and they are the same way. They will calm down a little with age because they will realize you will give them treats more than just ONCE. Mine are now 6 weeks old and have calmed quite a bit. I could never hold them past one week of age without them crying and sqauking to get down. I tried at night like I've seen suggested on here and no dice.

    Then two nights ago I discovered, what I was considering night wasn't the same for the chicks. I usually tried to hold them around say 10pm. Well I was up later the other night and I tried at 11pm and I held every single one of them with NO problem they just sat there and let me pet them. No treats just me. It had to be after dark. I had a little light with me and they didn't mind it. They just stayed calm and sleeping until I picked each one up. I started and ended with the one ROO I have, so he knows whos boss [​IMG]
     
  6. Judymae

    Judymae Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 22, 2007
    Merit, Tx
    You're not promoting fights! Just remember how they will act out in the run when they get older. If one finds a bug the others will dive bomb it to get it's bug. It's just a chicken thing!
     
  7. GoodEgg

    GoodEgg Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 12, 2007
    NW Florida
    Thanks again for the replies. [​IMG]

    I appreciate that Judy. I had read some other people's descriptions of how they acted with bugs and treats and I thought it might be normal, but mine go TOTALLY BALLISTIC and I didn't know if their extremes were normal. I don't want to have aggression problems, so I was afraid of making mistakes in that. I think I've got 19 heavies, 6 bantams, and an unknown (I thought it was a silver seabright bantam but it's growing awfully fast!) and I just don't want the little guys picked on, especially since my 2 most favorites are two of the smallest ones, and pretty docile at that. (They will steal too though!)

    And Schmoo, that gives me something to think about. I do most of my "visiting" with them pretty late, so I'll make it a bit later and see if that matters. I still leave the light on 99% of the time though, so they are never all asleep. Right now there are several that love to be picked up and held, but the others tend to struggle and cry, so I usually just hold them a moment until they calm and then let them go.

    I have one so-tiny red sex-link ... she was the one in the hospital cage for being lethargic, she still isn't growing, but she loves to sit in my hand and when I try to put her back, she just stays. She does act normally and eats, so I hope she will be ok, even if she stays small. And my tiny Japanese bantam who was in the hospital cage likes to be held too. Those two will sleep in my hands if I pet them. I guess they got used to us from being right beside us under glass for a week. My other "sweetheart" is a black sex-link that is my best ant-chaser. When ants come into the room, I pick her up and turn her loose on them, so she will just stand and wait to be picked up. She likes to be petted when just standing in the brooder box too. But if I can make friends a little better with the others, that would be good, so I will try it. And I'm hoping some of those banties are roos (and that none of the standards are!) so I also am very interested in staying the "boss" of everyone! [​IMG]

    Thanks for the suggestions and info, everyone!

    trish
     
  8. Queen of the Lilliputians

    Queen of the Lilliputians Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 5, 2007
    Maine
    My group do this, too. I think it's the mom in me [​IMG] that has me wanting them to take turns and share, but I just don't think that's how chicken society works. It is interesting if you watch who is quick to take treats, and who runs back for another shouldering everyone out of the way. I think it has to do with pecking order, since a few of my girls seem resigned to looking for 1/2 eaten treats on the ground. I do try to give some to everyone, but the non-aggressive ones sometimes won't even take it from me. Anyone being too aggressive and bossy gets a 'peck' from my finger.

    My feathered kids are 5wks now, and so far I haven't seen any other aggression from them except the treats. I'd like to think it'll stay that way, but I caught a pair bumping chests a couple of days ago! Overall, though, I don't think the treats have promoted any aggression in the group, since there is no feather pulling or pecking really. The most I see is somebody stepping on someone else because they are in each other's way.

    -Meghan
     
  9. GoodEgg

    GoodEgg Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 12, 2007
    NW Florida
    Thanks, Meghan!

    This is what I kinda wanted to hear. I guess that's it, I just want to protect the smaller ones and docile ones and want everyone to share. And just like yours, there are a few that aren't brave enough to take them from me OR shoulder in among the others and get some.

    Usually I throw some bits to the other side of the box (where those shy ones are huddled) while the bossy ones are going mad in the other side of the box. I can't stand for anyone to be left out. Most of the shy ones get to eat at least a little that way, but some of them just won't take the chance while others are right there.

    I'm glad to know I'm not encouraging fights.

    I read the "How to keep your rooster sane" ... I'm afraid I don't know where to find it but it's been posted on here a few times. It talked about being dominant roo and keeping them from fighting (like you said giving them pecks for being aggressive would work I think). I've been watching closely for sparring, but except for the treat-induced running around and running over each other and snatching, I have yet to see any behavior at all like that. They did peck at each others' eyes a few times the first day, but I think that's just cuz they reflected the light, and they don't anymore.

    Thanks again, I guess we are so far on track. [​IMG]

    trish
     
  10. Mulemom

    Mulemom Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 8, 2007
    Sacramento, CA
    Hi GoodEgg, I also have 26 babies and mine are two weeks old. They do the same thing yours do when I give them treats. I also noticed that it seems to be part of the fun for the one being chased. I like to pick them up one at a time and rock them in the rocking chair and talk to them and pet them while my DH rolls his eyes at me. I started giving each one a meal worm while they were out with me and the second they take it they start squeeling and flapping around looking for someone to chase them, but there's no one else there. It seems to disappoint a bit. Then they just settle down, eat the worm and go back to laying in my lap in the rocking chair.
     

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