How to earn the trust of your chickens

Mommy told us that someone was asking about how to get your chickens to trust you, so we figured it was time to tell it from the chicken’s beak.

First up we all have our likes and dislikes, for instance, Cuddlepot, Pretty & I are what mommy calls ‘French Hens’ – we luvvv snails, but we won’t touch worms – ugh! So, things do need to be taken on a case-by-case basis but there are some general rules of claw.

For instance, if you are our mommy from the minute we pip and unzip our shells then, you know, we kinda cut you some slack a bit.

Or if you do what humans call ‘rescue’ us – we tend to think a bit more highly of you.

But if you are kinda lazy and just want a ready-made solution without putting any time into us – hmm we are kinda judging you right from the outset. Point of Lay – well that’s as close as we get to Mail Order Brides.

I mean you think you can just grab a bunch of us at Point of Lay, put us in a coop, feed us, let us out in the morning, shut us away at night and stop by for eggs – I tell you what…that isn’t going to cut it.

Is that how you’d treat your human children and expect them to trust you? Naaah didn’t think so!

Well, guess what…Point of Lay chickens require courting because we missed out on that part as far as we are concerned. You gotta woo us and earn our trust. That means plenty of loving visits, bringing presents of treats, spending time hanging out with us for the sheer fun of it with absolutely no expectations, getting down to our level, respecting our feelings and boundaries.

You wouldn't barge into your human bathroom and insist on interrupting a bath that was being taken, so it's not a good idea to grab a dustbathing chicken either, got it??

We all like people who appear with presents of food but when it's the same stuff over & over again it kinda loses its appeal a bit, so switch up the treats, variety really is the spice of life. You like steak and chips, cool! Gonna eat steak and chips every day for weeks on end and still manage to feign the eggcitement like you did the first time you ate it? Too much hard work isn’t it!

You think you can get by with two hurried visits a day? You know that smacks of having snagged the free 20min parking spot right outside the hospital doors which practically stinks of ‘you are an inconvenience’. No, we want to get to do the fun things with you too, we want you to come and really spend time with us, slow the bleep down and notice what we do and how each of us is different and act like you want to give us that time and know as we do, that there is genuinely nothing better you could be doing right at that moment.

I don’t know if you’d noticed but we are considerably smaller than you, so we feel a whole lot safer when you slow down when you walk calmly and gently around us and if you want to pick us up it feels much safer if you do so in a gentle way. Just grabbing us feels a lot like a predator swooping in and grabbing us as a takeaway meal.

Believe me, if we trust you, we’ll be happy to walk right between your legs and when you pick us up we do have preferences on how we are held if you don’t mind. If you are picking us up off the ground putting your right palm under our claws is very reassuring. We then know we can leave if we wish, you are giving us a choice and a way to feel secure. You can steady us with your left palm by placing it gently under our crop so we can rest against it because frankly you humans are very wobbly compared to Terra Firma.

Keep up your gentleness and we will feel safe enough to either sit down in your palm (some of us are bigger than others I do appreciate) or you can do a test run and see how we feel about you gently hugging us to your chest with your right arm around us and your hand up under our crop. If you meet with approval, we will concede to letting our legs hang free.

This tends to be mainly for snuggles though. After all, if we are eating treats then we like to be on something a bit firmer because we need the ability to safely make sudden movements without overbalancing because sometimes we need to rip our treats up if they are too big. Most of us are still searching for those elusive hen's teeth, with which everything would be so much easier.

And when we’d like to get down, please let us go. It’s not acceptable to insist we stay, you see because sometimes we might need a little space in which to maybe empty our bowels and we know how much you dislike us doing that on you, even though we find it quite amusing when it happens and you’ve been the ones that didn’t want to let us get down when we asked nicely.

And don’t dump us down if you’ve finished cuddling. Who wants a cuddle that ends abruptly? It just makes us feel like we’ve done something wrong. All you need to do is slowly lower your palm down to the ground and we’ll hop off, or if you are sitting then we can often just fly down.

Lastly when it comes to putting us away at night, if we don’t go and perch where you think we should, it’s probably because we want you to tuck us up each night. So given we’ve already begun to settle for the night keep up that gentleness, who likes being woken suddenly and then hurriedly hurled around? It works super well when we can perch on your index finger and then step from that to the perch. It’s much more dignified getting into bed yourself than having someone putting grown adults into bed each night.

So go right ahead and apply these tips and don’t be surprised if you suddenly feel a whole lot closer to us – we’ve been itching to show you this love for ages but we haven’t known if you could be trusted with it.


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