Why are my chickens scared fo me??

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by biretta, Jun 7, 2007.

  1. biretta

    biretta Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 7, 2007
    Hello. I have five 11 week old pullets I've raised in the living room from day old till they were 5 or 6 weeks of age. While living in the house they weren't exactly very friendly nor did they want to be picked up but now that they live in a large run on our patio--where they can see us in the house--all but one loathe being touched, let alone picked up and start panicking. One is noticably less timid than the others, but also does not particularly fancy being touched or picked up though will tolerate it. Aren't chicks raised among humans supposed to be more tame than these? Should I have handled them more often as chicks than I did, which was probably a few times a week, just briefly, as in transporting them in and out of the house? I'm a bit disappointed as I got these for pets as much as for eggs. I don't remember chickens being this timid when I had a few here and there as a child, but maybe back then I had handled them more. Thanks in advance for any input!
     
  2. PurpleChicken

    PurpleChicken Tolerated.....Mostly

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    Apr 6, 2007
    Iceland
    Spend time with them. Take each chicken to a safe zone in your yard. Hand feed them something good like oatmeal or scratch grains. Pick the bird up. Put the bird down. Repeat.

    Do this individually with each bird or just try it with 2 of them. I bet you will be surprised what you can accomplish.

    I have 30, all around 8 weeks. Some just naturally got more attention than others causing the "others" to be more skiddish. I've been taking turns doing this with each one and the results have been very good.

    Once 1 or 2 of your birds start to be comfy with you most others will follow. Remember some breeds are more mellow than others too.

    Good Luck!!!
     
  3. biretta

    biretta Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 7, 2007
    Thank you for the tip. Actually one of the skittish ones is an Australorp which I chose based on its supposed friendly nature. I'll try that but hope it's not too late as I've also had to chase them a few times to get them back in the coop.
     
  4. barg

    barg Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 27, 2007
    We have 4, almost 8 weeks now and just put them out in the coop.
    I dont know what we did right, but we did something right.
    I can tell you that the Most friendly of ours is also highest in the pecking order and was given alot of attention.
    Maybe if you figure out whos the boss of your chickens and ally with that one it will help with the others.
    Our 2 australorps were a little more shy then our dominiques...
    but at this point, they all come when I call them.

    what are all the breeds you have?
     
  5. Hellebore

    Hellebore Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 26, 2007
    Kirkland WA
    We have some pullets as well, 12 of them. They seem to vary a lot in personality and friendliness. We have 2 michievous Delawares that we jokingly call the Weasley twins. They are very eager to come up and sit on my shoes and will be picked up, but they squak when I catch them. They also jump up and sit on my shoulders. We have 3 EEs and they are all different in personality. The Australorp does not really like to be handled, but she is super curious. I think a lot of it is just the luck of the draw, but we are working hard to tame all of them. I have noticed that right at bedtime when they are all settled down on the perch they are amenable to having their backs pet as long as I don't pick on up and mess up the orderly way they have lined themselves up. You might try that. They are in a pretty small coop (7 x 7 feet) and they can't really get away from me. I think they would try harder if they could and maybe that is part of what is going on. They will have more room when their run is done.
     
  6. biretta

    biretta Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 7, 2007
    I have 2 RIRs, 1 Australorp and 2 Americaunas, all presumably pullets. One of the RIRs is the least timid of the bunch. I'm wondering if it is a rooster, as it's the only one that doesn't start panicking when it gets separated from the flock; the others would begin calling out plaintively in that case. So that and its boldness make me, a novice chicken fancier, speculate that it's male. (Proabably without much basis in fact.)
    If I tried petting them while they roosted, even in a confined space, they'd all evacuate the perch as quickly as possible, maybe except for the "rooster." Thanks for the tip though. I think I'll just have to be more hands on with the next batch of chicks! I've read game birds, as the Cornish, are generally bold and friendly, although in this case I'd have to sacrifice the egg production. Silkies were noted as calm and friendly too. Any experiences?
     
  7. barg

    barg Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 27, 2007
    One other thing, when I first got my chicks, I whistled in a soft way toward them and it seemd to make them think I was one of them, that was when they were first starting to get used to us.

    No experience with silkies here, but the things ive read about their skulls doesnt get them on my "want list"
    But thats just me.
     
  8. Queen of the Lilliputians

    Queen of the Lilliputians Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 5, 2007
    Maine
    My chicks have taught me a ton about this. Glad they are in the brooder so they can't REALLY get away... MWAHAHAHA

    I did notice that my group are pretty particular about HOW I can pet them. For instance, if it flies over their heads, even if it's my hand, they freak out and run. If I run my hand along their back all the way to their tail, they squawk and run. They love to have their chest feathers petted, and between their shoulders, but all but one hates to have it's head touched AT ALL. They do like to have under their chin rubbed.

    I have noticed when my girls are out in the run they are much LESS likely to come over to be petted, mostly because they are too busy scratching and flapping and running. They will keep an eye on me through the fencing though, and tend to gravitate toward me. I have high hopes that at least some of them will be very friendly.

    The chick in the group who loves me the most (not the same as the chick who loves the rest of the family the most) is a girl. My most inquisitive chicks appear to be girls. The chick I am pretty sure is a boy tends to be.. well ASSERTIVE is the best word I can think to use. He isn't really bossy, and lets the others eat first. But if he wants to go somewhere he'll just walk there, regardless of who might be in the way. If there is something going on (treats going out, a strange noise, I'm dangling my hand in the box) he'll push his way there and be as close as he can get TO my hand without rubbing up against me. He's friendly, but I don't think it's that.. it's more like he's in position in case he's needed.

    -Meghan
     
  9. PurpleChicken

    PurpleChicken Tolerated.....Mostly

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    Iceland
    Great thoughts all. There are so many factors that affect behavior.

    Mine too are a lot friendlier at night, especially while roosting.

    Not many of them like being picked up from above or grabbed. I lift them from the bottom by cupping my hand in front of them so their breast is at my wrist and teir legs fall between my fingers. They respond well to this. ALWAYS GO SLOW. QUICK MOVEMENTS SCARE THEM.

    Free ranging becomes a bit nuts. A few of my friendliest won't come to me and run away when they are ranging. They don't want back in the coop. This is when I have to get my hound to help me catch them. The dog helps me circle them and herd them back to the coop. It sounds harsh but you would laugh if ya saw it. They all like each other. I'll take some scratch and pour it on the dogs belly. The chicks will attack the dog for the scratch.

    Don
     
  10. chickbliss7

    chickbliss7 Out Of The Brooder

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    Oct 2, 2008
    My friendliest girl (7, all hens, 8 months old) is a Buff Orpington--she is lowest in the pecking order. She will run to jump in my lap when I sit down to watch them. Also have a Barred Rock that's super friendly--she's the highest in the pecking order. She would like to get in my lap, but the BO beats her to it usually. This used to cause the BR to attack, but I have been diligent about stopping her aggression. Every one comes to me (because I'm usually bringing snacks). Except my Americauna. She has never liked me to touch her, even as a 2-day old chick! All of them "crouch" when I approach (not the Americauna), sometimes even when they just hear my voice. I'll pet them and when I stop, they fluff their feathers like a giant shiver. I think that means they like it? I don't pick them up usually, except for my BO, but handled them all daily when they were younger. I think this is necessary to have friendly chickens. Even my Americauna likes to peck my shoes and eat out of my hand. I just can't touch her.
     

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