Here at Gillis Gardens, we believe in happy, friendly animals. We believe that, with the right care any animal can become easy to handle and some even enjoy it.
So here are my top 5 tips to creating an unbreakable bond with your flock.
Seriously, start young- This is the big one. Just as soon as we get our babies, I inspect and hold for a moment. Then for the next several weeks, I go in and check on them CONSTANTLY. Any time I have an extra couple minutes, I hold my hand in the pen so they get used to my being in close proximity. Bonus point for when the braver ones start perching on your wrist or maybe even fall asleep on you.
Handle(gently) several times a day– even if only for a few seconds. I believe this gets them used to just being picked up. When you want to check out an adult bird, having them just submit to being picked up is a lot easier then trying to catch it.
Spend lots of time talking to them– We have our chicks set up in our storage room, which we have to walk thru to get to our laundry area. This means I get to talk to them, several times a day, without even having to do much else. I sing while I’m doing to laundry, I run thru my list of stuff to do for the day.. Or I just talk aloud. I want them to not only be used to my voice, but recognize it.
Back off if it’s to much for them– don’t stress your babies out. It wont help form a bond. Use the more trusting, social birds to draw out the nervous ones. Once they realize the other birds have nothing to fear, they will come along.
Use their food as a motivator– and no I don’t mean withhold food. I mean literally sit their with food in the palm of your hand. They’ll come to it even if there is food elsewhere.
Wear a shiny bracelet– this is a “hack” one might say. Birds, like a lot of animals(including humans), are quite attracted to shiny things. Use this to your advantage. They’ll peck at it but it increases their interest in you as well.
Don’t give up! – especially if its because they aren’t cute fluff butts anymore. They don’t stay like that long and that’s no excuse to treat them any differently.
Our girls are about a month old now, and they are growing like crazy.
I have several that like to fight for the perch on my hand/wrist and the shy girls cuddle up next to me. I can honestly say, with my arm in the box, they have all fallen asleep. That is trust, in a nutshell folks.
Well, that’s about all for this one. We were up late the last weeks worth of nights planting strawberries and putting up a fence… we also have a garden to plant, a kitchen to finish (lest we forget), and a whole list of other projects. Wish us luck!
ETA: we are now in our 6th year of raising friendly chickens – the only thing I’d like to add is, in my experience as a busy renaissance woman, you have better chances at bonding with all your chicks when you don’t buy a large amount at once. The one time I bought over 10 chicks I only formed a strong bond with about half. Any time I have 5-7 I generally bond with all of them. Except for my barnvelders. They resist me to this day.
Here are some pics of our latest flock additions
Mrs Shirley Jones- the lone Cochin
Miley- lavender Orpington number 1
Iris- Lavender Orpington number 2
Patsy- Blue Plymouth Rock
Until next time, have a wicked good day.