How to Get a Chicken to Like & Trust You
by Hailey Dray | 03.31.2020
It's fun to spend time with our chickens... but what happens if they don't love spending time with us too?
Let's face it. Some chickens run for dear life when we get close. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to bond with your flock to help earn their trust.
Chicken eggspert Jessica Dilger of @Coopmomma has the scoop to get a chicken to love you!
Things you will need (don’t worry I’ll explain why)
- A small chunk of time each day
- Goodies! Scratch, or really any goody, but the one that mine love most is Grubblies (which is the healthiest for chickens).
- Your phone and or a book (really something to entertain yourself and appear uninterested)
- A blanket/old towel. (Depending on your situation just something low to sit on)
Your Mission: To get your feathered rebel to love you
Are you ready to become a Chicken mind ninja?
First, as stated above, Patience! As one of my favorite movies to quote says “Patience grasshopper!” If you don’t get that movie reference we can’t be friends! Well, at least until you look it up!
Second, a common mistake, even by me in the beginning. Everyone says to handle your chicken a lot, but I’m going to contradict that now….do not pick up the chicken! Another movie reference below perfectly describes what I’m about to tell you. You are not, I repeat, not in the circle of trust yet! You cannot force your way into the circle of trust either, it doesn’t work that way. Trying to force them to be held is counterintuitive. Have you ever seen that old cartoon where the big dog loves the little dog and always nabs him up saying “I’m going to love him, and hug him, and call him George!” All the while “George” is trying to get away from the overwhelming love.
Third, do not jump, run or move fast in anyway lol (if you have kiddos you might want to be in the circle of trust before trying to push them into the circle of trust…. I learned that the hard way) quick movements scare them. (I don’t expect you to go jogging in the chicken coop but hopefully you’re picking up what I’m throwing down) Now that I’ve told you what you shouldn’t do...
The Steps that worked for me:
Take a blanket/ towel/ or in my case an empty feed bag (hey, it’s what I had at the time), set it down on the ground and you guessed it, plop yourself down.
Why? Let me put it in a way that maybe you can relate to. Have you ever been in the situation where someone is looming over you? It’s uncomfortable and intimidating right? Same thing here! Can you imagine how big we look to them?!
I suggest the ground if you are able to, only for the simple fact that they can also easily climb on you if they get comfortable. I understand this isn’t a possibility for everyone, so if need be bring out a lawn chair and something to rest your feet on. (chickens love roosting. Eventually, if you have your legs up, they may invite themselves.)
Place some goodies next to you, starting away from you and then some a little closer. Don’t put them right next to you right away, let them edge their way in.
Take out your book or your phone (or listen to the Drink and Farm Podcast and sit back and relax. (Seriously therapeutic) Your goal isn’t to hold the chicken. Your goal is to be present and have the chicken get used to your presence.
If they should decide to roost on you, don’t take this as your queue to hold them or smother them. The first few times just let them be for a bit. You are earning their trust and they are testing the waters. (It’s sort of like dealing with a teenager and or pre teen lol!)
Repeat each day!!!
Consistency is key
I can’t guarantee a time frame as each chicken is different, and honestly there are some I’m still working on. That being said, consistency is key. Letting them come to you is key. Patience is key.
I have used this approach for years now and I will admit that some are tougher to crack than others but I at least can get all but one to come up to me. I’m sure some think I’m crazy for crawling into our mini chicken coop/brooder but I do it from the beginning when they are chicks because I want to be in their circle of trust. I’ve also used this approach with some of our laying age rescue hens (those are the tougher ones to crack).
Good luck and if you try this approach and it works for you as well, send me a photo!!! I’d love to see and I hope that it can help you! I’m officially a crazy chicken lady (if I wasn’t already before lol!) I never in a million years bought I’d be sitting in a coop hanging out with chickens! Darn those little feathered rebels and their ability to squirm their way into my heart ️
I wouldn’t have it any other way though! Thank you so much and I really hope that I have helped you to understand and connect with your feathered rebels!!!
See More from Jessica by following along with her adventures on instagram @Coopmomma!