Chicken Keeping

Information and help for keeping Hens in your Garden

Nature on our Doorstep - New, The Down the Lane Wildlife Diary

Training your Hens

You can not tell chickens to do something, they can tell you

Some may not agree, but my definition of training a Pet is to make it do something which is not natural behaviour to them, i.e. 'Sit', 'Stay' etc.

Even then, the training is something the Pet will associate with getting a treat at the end of it, so in the most radical terms - it's almost blackmail !!

So, my personal view is you can't train a Chicken !

But, this should not put aside the fact that they are reasonably intelligent. The speed at which they can sense something and go for something they want is quite outstanding! If you put a load of their favourite Layers Pellets down on the Ground mixed up with something else, the Chickens would pick the Pellets out, leaving the rest at great speed !

Like most living creatures, motivation is food and it's through food that you have the best chance of rounding them up at night. They will get to know the rattle of food in the usual Saucepan or other container and will react from a great distance (usually!!).

But the main point of this page is to throw in my comments for those who think their Chicken is trained in so far as picking them up. You will often hear people say "When I go up to her, she stoops down and waits for me to pick her up'.
I regret to say this is not that she wants you to pick her up at all, it's she's submitting to you - in other words she's given up a chase (even if there wasn't one).

I hope you never have the experience of seeing Chickens attacked by a Fox or a Dog, but if you do, you will see the Chicken running for a while, then stooping down and freezing on the spot. Occasionally they will pad their feet as well. At the end of the day, it's a fear thing, so if anyone says they stoop down waiting to be picked up, it isn't they want to be picked up, it's they're plain simple frightened.

As said earlier, food is their main attraction, so if you want a Chicken on your Lap, find a garden chair, sit down and have a handful or mug of Chicken Feed. Sooner or later, they'll pick the message up and they'll be up there in no time! They will let you stroke them, but as soon as the food incentive has gone - they're off !

Saying all that, if I come out my Garden Office just before it's getting dark and walk up the Garden, every chicken will chase me up to the run. This though is simply they know that when I usually go up that part of the Garden, I'm getting them food.

The only reservation I have with my thoughts is that I have heard some say the 'clicker' is quite good.

As much as they are wonderful Pets, they are not like dogs and cats, liking their fuss and cuddles. They are at their happiest just scratching and wandering around investigating what's about. It is after all, their natural behaviour.

              

feeding chicken
Feeding new chickens from your hand is a good way for them to get to know you. They're inquisitively nosey!

cat and chicken
The Chicken has a better chance of training the Cat than I have !

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