why don't my chickens want to be held and touched?

Brandy Jo

Dec 12, 2015
I've been reading forums from this site since before I became a chicke momma. Glad I finally joined the group! Am wondering what breeds you all think are most friendly. I have 4 chickens hatched in June raised indoors with lots of handling and they still do not like to be touched or held? I give treats daily spend time in the run they love me talking to them they get very excited and pace back and forth when I'm coming they go nuts talking but hate being held and pet. Any suggestions to how I can get my girls to let my son and I touch them? We end up chasing them and forcing them to be held just to give routine check overs.


Premium Feather Member
12 Years
Dec 11, 2009
Colorado Rockies
Chasing them to handle them is stressful and only reinforces their mistrust. You need to teach them to come to you, and you need to convince them that they don't need to fear being touched.

Some breeds are more calm and trusting than others, but all chickens can be taught to come to you. I begin by sitting calmly in the run on the ground with a nice supply of treats in hand. While offering a treat, use the same verbal cue each time, and soon they will associate that word with getting a treat and will come to you when you say it, even when you have no treat.

Gradually touch your chickens while they are taking the treat from your hand. Then soon they will understand that being touched is associated with something good and nothing bad will happen.

I use the verbal cue while cupping my hand and pointing at it with a finger from the other hand. Once your chickens learn that a cupped hand may have a treat in it, they will come to you and you can then reach down and pick them up.

My friendliest breeds are Brahmas, Welsummers, Cochins, and EEs. But all my chickens become friendlier and more trusting as they get older.


Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow
BYC Staff
Premium Feather Member
7 Years
Jul 16, 2015
Chickens are prey animals, being held is something to be feared, I get some pretty friendly chickens that get up close, come running for treats and follow me around all without any real handling. I prefer to not handle unless necessary and when I do I try to be kind and gentle. I have found that chickens seem to be afraid more when under a year than they start to be more friendlier as they mature, those handled a bit more younger are more forwarded, so it's possible you might just have to wait a bit until they get older and more confident.


Hopelessly Addicted
Premium Feather Member
9 Years
Jun 18, 2010
Southern Oregon

some chickens just don't have a pet mentality. I would limit handling to only when necessary. they don't need routine handling unless you notice a problem IMO. I have birds I've only touched a few times in their lives, and that was basically to move them to different pens. Back off from the chasing and just let them hang out near you. They'll be much happier.

If you do suspect an issue with a bird, the best time to inspect them is at night. simply pick them up from the roost, they're easy peasy to catch.

Folly's place

11 Years
Sep 13, 2011
southern Michigan
x2 on everything mentioned here. I only hold birds to look at problems, and off the roost is best. Chasing only reinforces fear; sit around with treats, and be glad that they come around. My friendliest hens have been Speckled Sussex, and one cute Ameraucana bantam girl. Cochins and bantam Brahmas have been good too. Mary


Jul 5, 2014
Some of my chickens are friendlier than others, The Brahmas both cockerel and hen are very cuddly as is the Rhode Island Red and the Goldline. The Barnavelder cockerel is very tame and cuddly, the hen is more reserved. The Easter eggers are friendly and the Pekin likes to keep herself to herself. the others will all let me pick them up but not for long. However if any of them thinks I may have a treat, I get mobbed. and if I am doing any gardening or work outside they all like to involve themselves as much as possible.
Even the most nervous chicken will become tame, food and kindness always work eventually. But always on the birds own terms. Some will come ad sit in your lap while others like to investigate what you are doing and peck your shoe laces, but will only tolerate being handled for a short time.

Brandy Jo

Dec 12, 2015
Thank you all so much yes I do not chase them unless I need to. The fayoumi got cut and I had to care for that also it got extremely cold here and we got a lot of snow I read that they may get frost bite so I put ointment on them so had to catch them but did that at night lol I learned they pretty much are in coma at night. My son is the one that likes to chase them. I have started to see that treats really lure them in. I just get aggravated due to my friend having 30 chickens and has never hand feed or treated them like pets and they love to be held they jump into my son's arms lol thanks again

New posts New threads Active threads

Top Bottom