Socializing chicks

gardengalrn(5KS)March 25, 2008

I am keeping my chicks in a child's swimming pool (with shavings) in the basement. I go down often and pick them up, give veggie scraps and have put several clods of sod in there which seems to make them very happy. So far, they seem very healthy and are growing fast. I was reading here and several other sites, looking at pics, etc. It struck me how people are holding the chicks and they seem so calm or talk of the older hens coming up and being affectionate. Mine act like I'm a murderous monster! When I go to pick them up there is much frantic running to get away. I move slowly and talk to them. I'm hoping this is normal chick behavior for their age? Maybe as they see that I bring treats and food they will lighten up? I got them last Sat so I would say they are just shy of 2 wks. My Ideal order is shipping tomorrow so I will have a total of 27 which includes a few roos. It seems silly to ask but I had hoped to have very social chickens that don't go shrieking in a tizzy fit when I come near. Lori

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marlingardener

Lori,
We are going through the same thing--we have had our chicks for one week (ordered from Ideal and picked up last Wednesday. Those people at Ideal really like their chicks). I have cooed at them, given them chopped up lettuce for treat, cleaned their little brooder at least four times a day (sure wish I had a basement and a kid's pool!) Our chicks still run when they see my hand, peep like crazy when I ever-so-gently pick them up and act like I am their worst nightmare. And ours are Australorps--supposedly calm, shy and friendly! Maybe it is the breed you have; perhaps it just takes time for them to recognize us as benevolent beings; or perhaps they are just adjusting to a new environment. Whatever, we must persist and be good mother hens! Let us know how it works out for you.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2008 at 1:08PM
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johanna_h(Z5 SW MI)

Marlingardener is right. You must persist and be good mother hens!

One thing that I realized with my second (larger) group of chicks was that I gave them too big of a space when they were small. They could get away from me too easily and when all the fuss and commotion started, I felt like I would just make it worse to try to catch some.

I would suggest putting some sort of divider in your pool while they are small so that it is easier for you to handle them. Then as they get larger you can expand and before you know it they'll be outside!

--Johanna

    Bookmark   March 25, 2008 at 7:41PM
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gardengalrn(5KS)

Thanks ladies, I am still trying to be a good mother hen (I have 2 teen boys so am familiar with critters who don't want to be loved on overly-much ;) Johanna, I think you may be onto something. I thought I was doing good to give them the room but it IS hard to catch them and seems to make matters worse by chasing them down, etc. I may put them back into the original box which was a nice size for them, especially since my new chicks will be arriving tomorrow hopefully. May give the little ones time to adjust before dealing with the older ones. Lori

    Bookmark   March 26, 2008 at 4:59AM
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annpat(5-Maine)

You might want to leave them. Chickens get nervous in new locations, I just read. (I have a chicken with Pica (!) and change of location can cause it.)

I also read (I've only had chickens two years) that only chickens hatched by you bond as chicks. That said, as they age, chickens can definitely get attached to you. I have a little red hen with a big crush on me.

I did something with mine as chicks which really worked out well for me. Every time I took them a treat---watermelon, wet cat food, yogurt, something that they really liked---I rang a bell. Not only were the young chicks very excited to see me and my bell, as free-ranging adults I can call them home to the henhouse anytime I want by ringing the bell hanging in their house. (I always treat them when I ring the bell.)

Not only will they come running so hard I worry about sprained ankles when I ring the bell, they have, consequently, learned the way back to their nesting boxes, too. My free-ranging birds will walk the 250' from my boathouse to their nesting boxes whenever they feel the urge to lay an egg.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2008 at 10:34AM
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marlingardener

Lori,
I realized something this morning while moving the chicks from their brooder to a holding box so I could clean the brooder. I have a dominant chick! She is the first to get to the food bowl, pecks me if she can, and is trying to fly (silly girl). If I pick her up first, the others are much calmer and easier to handle. Perhaps you have a dominant chick, too? This may help in the socializing. At least it makes it easier to get our hands on the babies!

    Bookmark   March 26, 2008 at 10:39AM
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