What do you consider a "Friendly" chicken

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by raterus, Mar 17, 2015.

  1. raterus

    raterus In the Brooder

    May 2, 2013
    I read lots from people who consider their chickens friendly. I never have thought my chickens are friendly, but maybe they are? When I think of a friendly chicken, I think of more a pet, the chicken comes up to you, lets you pick it up, etc.

    My chickens don't chase me down in the yard and don't attack my kids/dog/cat (always a plus). However they keep to themselves (they free range around my yard), and don't swarm me unless they are hungry, (usually during the winter). If I try to grab one, they squawk, and try to run away. I don't really consider any of that friendly.

    I was hoping to get some opinions on what exactly you think is a friendly chicken?

  2. Cluck Wild Farm

    Cluck Wild Farm Chirping

    Apr 24, 2013
    Southern Illinois
    All of my full grown hens are the same way, despite me raising them from day old chicks. They don't run away from me if I get close to them, but they want nothing to do with being picked up. I considered that to be friendly until I got my current batch of chicks. There are about six of them that immediately jump on me when I get near them. Even as chicks my full grown hens never did that. My current batch of chicks have definitely changed my definition of a friendly chicken.
  3. threescompany

    threescompany Songster

    Aug 3, 2014
    I would say that my chickens are friendly but not the way a dog or cat are. They seem happy to see the "food lady" and they sometimes follow me in the yard. They don't want me to pick them up, they would rather run around but if I do they are fine with it and seem to like a little petting now and then. They aren't aggressive and don't peck me so I think that makes them friendly. [​IMG]
  4. chooks4life

    chooks4life Crowing

    Apr 8, 2013
    Sounds like yours are habituated to you but not really human-oriented. Not quite human-averse either. Able to go either way, probably, given the right stimuli and depending on their personal predispositions.

    I don't class a hen as friendly just because she walks up to me. Isabrowns for example can utterly lack fear of humans (and many other things they ought to fear), apparently due to loss of instincts and overall intelligence, and will walk right up to them and steal food from them, or just peck at them not expecting any sort of reaction like they'd expect from another living individual --- rather like they view us as being animated objects, but nothing more.

    If you try to pick one up though she may have an opinion about it, or might not, but their tolerance for people and reactions to them are not always based on any attachment to humans, just lack of fear and instinct. Most of them don't actually 'like' humans, they're just more or less unresponsive to our presence and actions unless it directly impacts them.

    My idea of friendly is not the same thing as tame, it's basically a potentiality some birds have, which can become tame with work, even if the chook is the only one putting in the work, and is found in chooks that already possess a human-oriented mentality.

    I don't think a chook is friendly because it's tame or runs to humans to get food. That's just a food/reward or habituation response. Such chooks can actually be human-averse and always fight handling and want nothing to do with humans unless there is direct benefit to them that they are expecting. I train my chooks to come when called, and early on into my chook keeping I realized that this didn't have any real impact on human-averse mentalities. I had to cull them out to get rid of them, because all the handling and tameness training and work I tried did not actually change their mindset towards humans, and their mentality bred true more often than not.

    When I get a new chicken, whether an adult or chick, I hold it and let it settle in my hands, and talk to it. Absolute refusal to settle is a bad sign. But that's okay, I'll work with that animal regularly to see if it will come out of that mentality. They all get a good few tries before I give up, at taming anyway. Negative behaviors results in culling.

    The ones that settle quickest are generally of a more domestic mindset rather than feral/wild type/just anti- anything not chicken. That quick settling indicates the sort of mentality of a chook that will likely be truly friendly to humans and choose to spend time with them without obvious reward.

    I talk to them, and make eye contact. The eye contact is often so important for them, many chooks will remain wild without eye contact. For others, it's the skin on skin contact, which sounds weird but it's downright revelationary for some, lol. Once their feet are in your hand, they seem to realize you're a living being they can communicate with, not some kind of animated object, it's a breakthrough for that sort. Some chooks, most, don't need either eye or skin contact to become friendly if they have the inclination, though, it's just something that works with some 'tough nuts'.

    Those that have the mental 'groundwork'/inclinations to be friendly, will respond to my voice, listen, answer, make and hold eye contact, and from then on will favorably react to my voice and seek eye contact, knowing that they can communicate with me. These chooks I can work with, 'reason' with, just using voice I can encourage them to show tame behaviors without touching them, for example before they've gained much trust, if I accidentally startle them while out and about in the coop or yard and they bolt, I can tell them it's okay and they instantly listen to that and stop running, because they are more mentally able and willing to communicate with humans.

    I consider these sorts human-oriented and these are the ones that will happily associate with you without reward, for example come and sunbathe beside you if they see you sitting in the yard, 'hang out' with you while you're doing things in their area, 'talk' to you, trust you with their offspring, ride around on your shoulder if you let them, etc. Willingly tame, rather than forcibly habituated.

    They will produce offspring that often automatically 'talk' to you and seek eye contact, and recognize it when they find it, and actively try to befriend you, even as chicks.

    When startled by humans before being handled much or having any real tameness, their reaction is to vocally communicate and seek a response, and once you vocally respond they relax and begin building a friendly bond with you, without you doing anything to push that. Their mentality towards humans is positive and interested without any food reward or forcing of it, and it's very hard to give them a negative view of people regardless of what you do to them.

    Others, with human-averse mentalities, don't respond to my voice, don't seek eye contact, don't recognize or hold it when it's made, are very hard or even impossible to communicate with, and without very intensive taming/training (and often despite it) will remain human-averse (unless coming for food).

    Sometimes a life-altering/threatening experience changes this, like an illness or injury during treatment for which they completely change their perception of humans. But generally they stay the way they are without such a severe incident and you can get some of them used to handling but they never actively appreciate human contact or company and can never wait to be rid of it, and will always choose to be as free of it as possible.

    I cull this sort because I want my birds to be reasonable, easy to work with for their own benefit as well as my own, not stressed by my presence or handling, not viewing me as predator or anything negative.

    Ok, so, my idea of true friendliness is a bit nuanced, but, I think that you can find truly friendly natures in wild birds, and unfriendly ones in very 'tame' birds.

    You can tame formerly wild friendly birds but never get true friendliness from even fairly tame human-averse birds. Tolerance, nothing more.

    Best wishes.
    3 people like this.
  5. ChickenLegs13

    ChickenLegs13 Songster

    Sep 4, 2013
    Lower Alabama
    My version of friendly is when they don't flog me when I walk into the pens, let me scratch them on their back and crop, and don't attack me when I reach my hand under them to get the eggs.
    The ones that don't like petting, avoid me, and bite me when I gather the eggs are just regular ole chickens in my world.
  6. AthenaT

    AthenaT Chirping

    Mar 11, 2015
    Port Richey Florida
    So far I have 3 "pet Chickens" Sookie was my first rescue she was an older pullet and I had her for over 8 months before she layed her first egg...she is like a puppy, she runs upto me wants to be held and petted even before she is fed....when I sit outside having coffee she jumps in my lap to snuggle( Sookie sounds like she is speaking her own name when she "talks") . Arlene was the next addition and I picked her because she was missing an eye...it took her a few days to settle in but will squat and await me to pick her up for snuggles and pets....she doesnt "talk much") and Layfayette a barred rock She (yes she) follows me like a puppy and is just starting to want to be picked up and snuggled....the other 5 ladies do not run from me and come when they see me out to feed or let them out of the coop but are not keen on cuddling yet (My coop was given to me and I have to remove the roof to let them out...no door but very predator proof) and none attack me but I would not say they are "pets" YET...but give me time :)
  7. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Friendly to me means they will let you touch them without holding onto them.
    I have one who will come up to me and stand still while I touch her all over, can scruff her up almost like a dog as long as I don't knock her off balance.
    She does this every morning even after I fill the feeders.

    Next level of 'friendly' down the rung is when you can pick them up without them trying to run off and put them back down and they don't run off but just waddle off.
    I have one or two others at that level.
  8. Naser

    Naser Songster

    Oct 29, 2014
    When they see me, my hens will race towards me. but the reason is each one wants to be the one who gets the best treats. when I try to hold them they run away, That is normal for chickens.
    Some hens can be very friendly this way but they are brutal to other hens. I don't keep those hens so the ones I have now are fine.
  9. AthenaT

    AthenaT Chirping

    Mar 11, 2015
    Port Richey Florida
    up to 5 out of 8 "pet hens" they all will squat and let me pick them up..but so far only 5 will come up and "ask" to be pet, cuddled or jump into my lap.
  10. centrarchid

    centrarchid Free Ranging

    Sep 19, 2009
    Holts Summit, Missouri
    Friendly means they will come up to you to lay down or even preen although they do not like contact unless the bird initiates it. Food is not the primary reason for association. Broody hens of such will bring brood up to you and settle into your lap. Rooster will sit / stand in close proximity to you and not watch you.

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