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Why did they all start freaking out?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by kara_leigh, May 9, 2011.

  1. kara_leigh

    kara_leigh Songster

    May 3, 2011
    Bradleyville, MO
    At the moment all of my chicks (5 weeks old) are in a very large brooding pen, temporarily. When I went to get them I was expecting tiny chicks, like still round and fuzzy, but instead they were 4 weeks old so we had to roll with it. We're building a coop soon. Until then, they sleep in their pen in my husband's shop at night and in the mornings I roll their pen outside and they free range during the day. It actually works out good.

    Anyway...tonight it was starting to get dark and I was getting ready to put them into their pen to take them to the shop when all of a sudden they all started FREAKING out. Every one of them was doing the loud chirp like one of them does when it is separated from the group, etc. What was that all about? Did they just want to go into their pen? It was really strange, and they have never done that before. Today was the first full day they were free ranging, though.

    My husband is thinking of putting a door on the side of their pen with a little ramp so they can get in when they want to at night until we get the coop built. Do you think that would be a good idea? (and before someone jumps down my throat, they DO have multiple shelters from predators during the day...someone on another forum already freaked out on me for that)


    edited for clarification [​IMG]
    Last edited: May 9, 2011

  2. Rustywreck

    Rustywreck Songster

    A ramp and door would be a good idea.

    As far as their freaking out is concerned, they may have perceived something as a threat and reacted to it. They are young and not sure of what to be afraid of, so they are afraid of lots of things.

    My girls used to get all worked up when a blue jay flew overhead. They have since learned that jays aren't a threat and don't over-react to them. They would even freak out when a jay did its screeching call.


    Mar 2, 2011
    Chickens are a prey-type animal who must communicate with the entire flock to avoid danger. Every flock member has a way to signal to the others they sense danger. Roosters make a whistle type sound to his flock that he senses a predator (most of the time when a bird flys over there head) and it's time to be alert and very quiet and still. Hens cluck in a slow manner to get her chicks closer to protect them and call to the rooster when they are picked up (that loud crying is a cry for help for the rooster). Chicks cry loudly when they are in fear to tell the mother to come protect them (also when seperated they call out in the same way)

    The most common natural predator they have is birds of prey like the hawk. Because of the chickens good hearing they can here objects move over their heads and this frightens them. The chicks likely caught a sound that scared them and they wanted to communicate that with their mother. You got the message instead. How sweet this is because in a sense ,they are telling you that they need you and look for you for help. They consider you mama [​IMG]

    I believe that letting them have acsess to the broodier when free-ranging is a good idea. They consider it safe and warm and when they want to warm up they can get in the brooder. They sound like very happy chicks. Good luck!

    Timothy in KY
  4. Barrdwing

    Barrdwing Songster

    Chickens are funny critters, and they're all about that flock instinct thing. I have had situations where one bird spied something that it didn't like, sounded an alarm call, and within five seconds every bird in the place was going insane. This has happened with both adults and youngsters; I'm afraid they don't grow out of it. It could have been a bird flying by overhead, it could have been a squirrel, or it could have been a genuine threat like a stray cat or other predator.

    Currently we have three roosters that spend the day in the front yard. I have learned to hop up and go investigate when all three start sounding off, because often it really is something. They've alerted me to visitors many times, and also to the presence of a Cooper's hawk sitting in the tree overhead. But they also flip out over minor stuff, like a cow in the nearby pasture bonking her horn against the fence. Ooo, scary! [​IMG]
  5. SunnyCalifornia

    SunnyCalifornia Songster

    Oct 8, 2010
    Escondido CA
    I talk to my chickens a lot. They know the sound of my voice, and I am known as the "treat dispenser" that doesn't try to hurt them...LOL. And I have a parade of chickens following me around the yard every time I step outside.

    I put everyone in before dark, but I often make another round about 9-10pm, to check on everyone, make sure the doors are locked, and that everyone is roosting and acting normal. On my late night rounds, I make sure I talk to them gently, so they know who it is, and they calm down right away, and don't get up, or act worried anymore.

    That might help?
  6. scbatz33

    scbatz33 No Vacancy, Belfry Full

    Jan 23, 2009
    South GA
    I have orps and at about 5 weeks they go through the "OH NO IT"S A HUMAN! RUUUUUUUUUUN!" Stage.

    It's just a phase. Seeing me daily, knowing I bring the food gets them to settle in. I equate it to the terrible twos. It's just something they do.
  7. kara_leigh

    kara_leigh Songster

    May 3, 2011
    Bradleyville, MO
    Thank you all! [​IMG] I think it was a mixture of one of them seeing something they were scared of, and being really tired. Yesterday was the first day they free ranged all day...coming from being crammed into a small pen with a million other chicks where I got them from. They had probably never set foot on the ground before. They love it, but they were exhausted. They went right to sleep right after I put them in the shop, whereas they normally would still be awake when my husband came back to the house. My husband even thought one of them was dead. lol They have a roost to sit on in their pen, but they prefer to sit on the floor all in a bundle. One of them was asleep with it's head off to the side on the floor. lmao He talked to them and it picked its head up all wobbly, though, so it was still alive. I still have all seven today. [​IMG] They are happily walking around, eating all the bugs they can find.

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