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chicken newbie question

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  • chicken newbie question

    Sorry if this is a redundant thread - a search didn't turn up anything. I'm a chicken newbie, with 6 little Rhode Island Red pullets now milling about in their warmed enclosure. We've had them about a week, and we bought them as layers. So far they seem to be doing well, and I'm working on getting them used to being handled. I'm getting nowhere with it. If anything, they're even MORE skittish than when we first brought them home! I know that RIR aren't the cuddliest chickens out there, but these chicks run from me like it's King Kong reaching into the box. It seems pretty stressful to them to have me pick them up - should I just leave them? How long does it take before these guys realize you're not a threat? Days? Weeks? Any suggestions for getting on their good side would be greatly appreciated.

  • #2
    Just keep at it in a calm manner. Sit calmly holding each & talk to them quietly saying nice things. Got any nice bugs to feed them as you are holding them? You alll the sooner become the wonderful food lady!
    "Police officers are public servants. Not James Bond with a license to kill."


    • Original Poster

      TTSP they're about a week old, so bugs are ok to add to the diet? Up to now they've been on chick starter only. I'm only going off books and websites for information, and they seem fairly stringent on what to feed them.


      • #4
        Go get some Happy Hen Treats (aka dried meal worms) and start feeding them on a regular basis. Worked like a charm for our red sex links.
        Here Be Dragons: My blog about venturing beyond the lower levels as a dressage amateur.


        • #5
          I agree with the above poster. Food is the all around, cross species taming motivator supreme. LOL. WIth ours, I would take the leftover breakfast oatmeal in my hand every morning and just hold it still inside of their cardboard box and wait for them to come. Once they realize the hand always brings food, they'll start running towards it. RIR aren't the cuddlest as you say, but they can be tamed pretty well. My full grown hens that we raised as babies, still come running from wherever they are when I call them.



          • #6
            At one week, for me, they are still inside my kitchen in a large cardboard box so the "Alien Giant Hands" put them to bed every night in a smaller box, change feed/water, etc. I also pick them and cuddle them.

            I continue to "put them to bed" until they are quite big (mostly fledged? it's been a three years since I've had babies), which helps with handling.

            Now, my last batch of Austrolorps NEVER got tamer, no matter how much I touched them. My Buffs were no problem at all. RIRs are stand-offish, but can be pretty tame. Keep at it, and add treats--you become very popular.
            Proud member of the "Don't rush to kill wildlife" clique!


            • Original Poster

              Great ideas everyone, thank you so much for the responses. Scooping them up for some petting isn't working, so I'm definitely going to try reaching in and letting them come for treats. Hopefully they'll realize I'm a friendly giant.


              • #8
                I love baby chicks. Okay, start talking before you reach down into the pen so they know you are coming. Hard boil or scramble some eggs, give those as treats (there is nothing cuter than watching a chick run around doing the "I got the treat" game). I pick them up by having their head face me and put both hands on their wings, and let their feet dangle. Don't get discouraged, my Golden Comets went through a flighty, scared phase and are now little cocky in-your-face-demanding-treats-hellions. LOL! Good luck and have fun.
                I LOVE my Chickens!


                • #9
                  What Megaladon says

                  Chickens are the most food-oriented species I have ever dealt with

                  Realize that as prey animals, anything coming from Above is potentially Death-Dealing, so the Giant Hands are not welcomed, ever.
                  My hens are 3yo and they still do not appreciate being grabbed from above.
                  If I crouch a bit then pick them up there is less squawking/trauma.

                  when your girls start squatting in front of you - usually around 6mos - get ready for eggs!
                  *friend of bar.ka*RIP all my lovely boys, gone too soon:
                  Steppin' Out 1988-2004
                  Hey Vern! 1982-2009, Cash's Bay Threat 1994-2009
                  Sam(Jaybee Altair) 1994-2015