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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My chicks are around 3-4 weeks (I have 10) and I want them to be reasonably friendly once they are grown. So with that in mind I have been trying to pick them up when I check on them throughout the day. They don't like it yet, but I've only had them since Monday so I think that's to be expected. We have cows, but this is my first time raising chickens. I am wondering if there is anything else I should be doing to help with this goal?

Thanks!
 

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There is no good answer to your question. Breed and individual bird personality play a big part in how much they like their humans.

You can always bribe them with treats. At their age I would try lettuce. Its really nothing more than water and will not take the place of the feed that they need right now.

I've got a Silkie rooster that's going to be nine this Summer. He's been picked up many times in that nine years yet every time I have to pick him up its like the first time he's ever been touched. My other eight year old Silkies are fine with being picked up. That's an example of different personalities.
 

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I find it's easier to not force them to like you by picking them up and instead trick them into liking you by sitting with them and offering food. Eventually they associate you with awesome treats and look forward to your arrival, then they start not minding being petted, then they begin to enjoy being picked up. They might never enjoy being snuggled, and some breeds/chickens might always be stand offish, but most will learn good things come from your lap.

Only one of my current birds looks to be picked up. Most of them liked being petted and scratched, but as soon as two hands reach for them they are gone. That being said, once they're in my arms they are relaxed and quite. They can be held in various ways and set on a table for showmanship, you can see their little brains ticking down the minutes until they are "released" though lol. Everyone of these birds was handled since birth and this is the best I've gotten out of them. Save for my little EE roo who sits on my shoulder while I clean the coop and coos at me until he is in my arms. Roosters I find are more likely to be won over than hens, hens it seems to depend on the day, where roosters are always consistent - good or bad.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for the tips :) Since chickens have been bred as livestock I am not expecting 'cuddly' but I do want them to like people. My experience with other livestock has shown handling them frequently helps a lot and personality will play a role. I will definitely try treats, lol, who doesn't like treats!!! My chicks are ameraucana, from what I've read, not super friendly but usually not aggressive either.
 

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Don't try to buttonhole chickens in to the same behavior as other animals. They are not. They are born with the instinct that they are prey and to be on high alert for that possibility from hatch. That's why they are so stressed when you pick them up.

You can see that natural instinct when a large bird flies over and as one they all drop flat to the ground. Since humans are perceived as large predators coming from above the running away is totally instinctual.
 

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Why not take advantage of their natural curiosity? I use the same approach as Fiere.

Let them try to investigate you instead of you approaching them. Sit down on the ground, be still and look off in a different direction. Remain still when they approach you and let them jump up on your legs or lap. If you want to put some treats on the ground beside you or on your lap, that's ok. Resist the urge to handle them until the next sit-down visit.

When you do pick one up, hold her against your neck right under your chin. Mine love that. I think that position triggers the instinct of how it would feel for them to snuggle against a hen's brood patch of bare skin.
 
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