Worried about being skittish when I get my first hen. Any advice?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Carolyn252, Apr 20, 2009.

  1. Carolyn252

    Carolyn252 Mother of Chickens

    I've never touched a live chicken in my life, but so much want to be a confident and nurturing caretaker for the two hens that I'll purchase as soon as our run and coop are ready for them in another two weeks or so. But I'm kinda worried about having enough nerve to actually pick one of them up or even hold it still on the ground so I can gently check it over for any problems. Am concerned that if one of them hops up onto me, I'll freeze and stand there waiting to feel sharp talons or beaks. Anyone else start out as a scaredy-cat?
  2. BFeathered

    BFeathered Songster

    Aug 29, 2008
    North Texas
    Sorry, I'm not skittish. Maybe you should go visit with some chickens to get used to them before you take them on yourself. Kinda like little kids -- go slowly, get used to them, and remember that you're stronger and smarter than they are. Just watch out for beaks if anyone's got an attitude! (or spurs if a roo's after you.. but you'll figure that out if and when the time comes.) Chickens are so much fun, and they all have their own personality, you'll be a great chicken "parent" if you're patient with yourself, and come here often.
  3. Jeff9118

    Jeff9118 Songster

    Feb 21, 2009
    Greenup KY
    Look at it this way. Not saying you are big but you are how many times bigger than a chicken. I can also promise that you will live. Most chickens are either really gentle or just want to get away. It is rare to get the one that bites. These are far and few. It is difficult for them to even break skin and so what if it does. They are not birds of prey and have dull beaks and toenails(not talons). Try not to be a baby about it and just pick one up. Keep in mind my 2 year old son picks them up and packs them around and he has yet to even get a scratch. Most of our chickens a very large heavy breeds and are harmless.
  4. RHewitt

    RHewitt Songster

    Keep the wings under control and you will be fine. Many people hold theirs but not me. Mine stay in their coop and free range. I handle them when needed to move them at night. Take it slow and you will be fine
  5. OrpingtonManor

    OrpingtonManor Building the Castle

    Nov 15, 2008
    Martinez, CA
    I have total sympathy for you. I had never handled one before I got them last year. My DSO would just scoop his up, but I couldn't imagine it.

    Then I got my little feed store chicks. I loved their soft fuzziness, so picked them up every chance I got. They didn't seem to mind at all, especially when I picked them up by putting my hand under their chest and belly, and just lifting.

    As they got older, and squirmed more, the hand under the chest continued to be a great way to catch the escape artists. This worked all the way until they started laying. Then it was easier to approach them from the top, and they would squat. No problems picking them up then. Keep your hands around those wings.

    Spend lots of time just sitting with your chickens. They will be so curious about you that they will climb all over you. Give them treats so they see you as a very positive presence. Pet them gently when they climb into your lap. Talk softly to them. They will get very attached to you, and you will look back in amazement that you ever worried about picking them up.

    Have a blast!
  6. DarkWolf

    DarkWolf Songster

    Nov 11, 2008
    Murray Kentucky
    If you're getting them young from a feed store or the likes, you will have a chance to grow with them. It's really not so hard.. They DO grow quickly mind you..

    As OrpingtonManor said, playing with the cute little fluff balls that are chicks is really enjoyable, beyond being pooped on from time to time, but heck, my kids had done about the same at least once in their life.. Must say, theirs was much less enjoyable... not saying that I enjoy it though.. [​IMG]

    Chickens are like many animals and really like to feel secure when lifted, so lifting them under their chest is the best. Mine are still small enough to where I pick them up just by grabbing them with one hand over the back.. They don't enjoy it, mind you, but where they're at now space is tight.

    Mine are sitting right beside me in a dog crate.. Have been since we'd got them, in fact.. They're extremely friendly now as I work from home and are beside them for at least 10 hours a day. Of all that I have however the Barred Rocks and Sex-Links are the friendliest of the lot. The Barreds always love to be held and are the first to the door if they think I'm going to pay attention to them.. Which they often think I am.. Silly things.

    Chickens, are not like birds of pray mind you.. So you don't have to worry about any talons sinking into anything. They play a balancing act when perching and only use their talons for scratching in the dirt. You might get poked now and then, but nothing bad at all.

    Now, as far as pecking.. I'd found that [older, 4+ week old] chickens are much like crows in that they're "oooohhhh! shiny!" obsessive and will peck at shiny metal or my daughter nail polish so if you have an aversion to that to start out with just take off your wedding ring and any ear rings you might have in. It's really not painful though..

    One of their favorite treats right now is Rice Krispies.. I take some and crunch it up a bit in my hand and let them eat it out open palm. It's funny to watch them.. A group of 10 gets a tad overly excited about it all, but just a pair would be fun for you to feed like that. They might nip just a little, but it won't leave any marks.. [​IMG]

    It's really been quite fun.. Right now I've got two parakeets and a cockatiel and I must admit, the chickens are by far the most personable, friendly and fun birds of anything I'd ever owned.
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2009
  7. PunkinPeep

    PunkinPeep Songster

    Mar 31, 2009
    SouthEast Texas
    Before we got our chickens (which was only 3 weeks ago), i told my husband the same thing.

    "I'm scared of them. They seem pokey," i told him.

    I know, great vocabulary.

    But once we got them, it was clear that i was the caretaker, and after a few tries, handling them became very natural. I just decided to trust my instincts and do whatever needed to be done.

    I don't handle them as much as i've seen some people write about. I handle them when i need to, and i talk to them a lot when i go and feed and water them.

    I've noticed that they are like me. When i first reach for them, they panic, but once i have them in my hands, i just talk nice to them and lightly stroke their little backs and they completely calm down. And also, they panic less the next time i need to pick them up.

    Don't be scared. You've got it inside of you. [​IMG]
  8. Jennie5193

    Jennie5193 Songster

    Mar 2, 2009
    South East TN
    I think if you're going to get hens (not day-olds) then you should get a breed like the Buff Orpington. They are very friendly, docile, and just fun to be around. My BOs are always the 1st to greet me and don't mind being picked up and held... in fact they'll bawk at me and jump up for me to pick them up (think jack russell terrier jumping... not Pitt Bull).

    Quote:I 2nd this! If you want chickens that you'll never be afraid of and will *want* you to hold them and be around them (not skittish or running away!) get day-olds. You'll have much more fun with them and you will know their personalities very early on before you even can *think* about being afraid of them! [​IMG] IMO
  9. Carolyn252

    Carolyn252 Mother of Chickens

    Thank you everyone. I'm already feeling more confident. You've said just what I needed to hear!
  10. PunkinPeep

    PunkinPeep Songster

    Mar 31, 2009
    SouthEast Texas
    I hope you'll let us know how it goes when you get your chickens. [​IMG]

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