Most people who get backyard chickens want friendly and cuddly pets: good lap chickens, if you will. A question I get a lot is “How do I raise people friendly chickens?”
If you’re going to have chickens running around in your home, it’s important for them to be sociable and friendly.
It’s far more enjoyable to enjoy that time with your chickens than to stress and worry about anti-social behavior. Fortunately, training your chickens to be people friendly is really simple.
In this article, I’m going to give you my best tips so you can enjoy your time with your pets!
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Raising people friendly chickens does depend a little bit on the breed. For example, we have frizzles that are super friendly, and love being around people. (You can read more about frizzles here).
We also have some barnyard mixes that aren’t super good with humans.
If you want people friendly chickens, I usually tell people to start with getting a people-friendly breed.
Most chicken breeds are people-friendly, but the super people-friendly are:
Bantams (especially Cochin Bantams and Mille Fleurs)
Our cochin bantams love humans. Keep in mind that there are different breeds of frizzles, but typically if someone’s breeding a frizzle, they’re breeding a pet breed. This is a good indicator that you’re getting a people-friendly chicken.
This is just a short list for people who don’t know what breeds to look for. Other suggestions can be found in this article about chicken breeds.
The simplest way to train your chicks to be people friendly is to spend a lot of time with them, to handle them regularly and gently, and to give lots and lots of treats. If you bring them yummy food, they will automatically come to you because they want the goodies, right?
Spending a lot of time with them and treating them like pets is the way to make them people friendly. That means not just tossing them out in a coop and maybe spending a little time with them every so often, but rather regularly interacting with them, making them feel special.
Think about how you might make a dog feel special. You’ll tell it it’s a good dog, you give him treats, and you’ll spend time playing with it. It’s the exact same thing with your chickens.
When I’m spending time with my chicks, I give them a lot of treats. But mostly, I’m letting them hang out with me. I think that that’s one reason why my frizzles are so friendly.
When they were little, it was March, and it was still a little too cold for them to go outside. So I let them sit on my lap when I was working. I let them hang out with me while I was doing other things in the house.
I just generally just spent time with them, and all of that in accumulation made them very people-friendly. You can see pictures of them on my Instagram account.
But I really do think it starts when they’re little and you spend a lot of time with them and you handle them regularly.
Hazards – Children
Don’t let your kids handle them if your kids are little, or if they tend to be rougher kids. Most commonly, these kids don’t know how to actually treat chickens and grab them the wrong way or rub them too roughly.
Some kids, like my own, are special-needs and lack impulse control, and can accidentally hurt your chicks. You want to avoid uncomfortable experiences for your chicks with regards to people.
So maybe if your kids are younger, are special needs kids, or if they are rougher, you could give them heavily-supervised time with your birds.
Basically, raising people-friendly chickens boils down to treating your chicks with respect, spending time with them, making them feel special, giving them lots of treats (they really like this!), and treating them as a member of the family.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this article. If you have questions about raising backyard chickens, suggestions or comments, go ahead and leave a comment below.
Maat van Uitert is a backyard chicken and sustainable living expert. She is also the author of Chickens: Naturally Raising A Sustainable Flock, which was a best seller in it’s Amazon category. Maat has been featured on NBC, CBS, AOL Finance, Community Chickens, the Huffington Post, Chickens magazine, Backyard Poultry, and Countryside Magazine. She lives on her farm in Southeast Missouri with her husband, two children, and about a million chickens and ducks. You can follow Maat on Facebook here and Instagram here.