How To Tame Your Chickens

Treat your hens to some tasty worms when you’re in the garden and handle them regularly when they are young and you might be surprised at how confident they get. It’s not uncommon for chickens to feed out of your hand or even test their luck by hopping through the front door to begin an adventure into your home. All you need to do to tame your chickens is to handle them from a young age. If you have children get them involved, feed them from your hand and hold your chickens comfortably.


A young boy holding his beautiful, tame chicken
A young boy holding his tame hen, who obviously loves being picked up

Handle Your Chickens When They Are Chicks

If you want tame chickens you are best buying them when they are young, usually around a couple of weeks old. If you can regularly handle them as they grow up they will learn to enjoy it, and may even hop onto your lap for a tasty treat in return.

If you have found a breeder with some chickens who are little older that this, then ask whether they have been handled, because sometimes the breeder will regularly pick them up making them comfortable with being held from a young age.


Which Chicken Breeds Are Most Tame?

If you are looking for a breed that is typically more tolerant of frequent handling then go for a Silkie or an Ornamental Bantam Breed like the Japanese Bantam. Orpingtons are also great chickens to have as pets. They have wonderful personalities and lay beautiful, brown eggs. It’s also very apparent that Orpington chicks like to jump up on you when feeding them, they love human contact.


An Orpington chicken with beautiful pale ginger feathers
An Orpington chicken with beautiful pale ginger feathers

Why Are My Chickens Not Tame?

The reason why your chickens aren’t tame is probably because they weren’t handled enough when they were chicks. They need to be confident in the fact that you are keeping them safe and healthy, and even though you might be doing all you can, if your chickens weren’t handled enough when they were young they just might never want to be picked up or stroked.

You can always try taming untamed chickens by offering food from your hand. In some cases quite flighty birds have gained confidence in their owners after time and have completely changed around, but this takes a lot of time and perseverance.



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Comments

Roberta, 26 July 2019

I am confused, my first chicks would scream when I picked them up (they were about a week old when I got them)I so much wanted to pick them up and pet them but they were to scared, I did not want to force it, when I could finally put them in the pen, they were still very skittish of me, so I would offer food from my hand as I sat in a chair and hang it on the side, eventually they ate from my hand over a week or two I would raise my hand up a bit and they would be confused, but they would follow my hand and jump in my lap, and I would feed them that way eventually I started to just feed them in my lap with the food all over my belly and legs, now they jump up follow me around and I dont always have food but they still do so, I am thinking if I had forced them to be handled against their will/fear that would make their fear more intense as I have taken over control of their flight ability and that would make them more fearful you think? now I have 13 day old chicks I got as one day old and they are terrified of me, if I reach in to change the water they flee and cry and when I add food to the feeder they freak out, when I clean the pen out they act like I am a hawk or something. I had to handle them because of pasty butt, but I am afraid if I force interaction it would only intensify their fears instead of reduce it because they are being forced and the bird has no option otherwise and that would intensify their fears? so I am confused as to what to do to ease their fears rather than intensify it any suggestions?


Marie, 7 February 2019

I've had my layers since 10 days old. They are RIR x leghorn 9 weeks old. I've had them in the house every day for a few hours, and when we watch TV they fight for the spot under my neck. During the day though they don't want to be handled or petted at all, and act like they are scared of me. They will come if I have a treat but not otherwise. If anything they are less tame than they were at 6 weeks. I know they are not known as one of the friendly breeds, but I would like them to enjoy cuddles. Is there anything I can do/ thanks


Sonia, 18 October 2018

I have had some chicken whom are about 17 weeks old. I am currently feeding them both 50/50 growers pellets and layers mash. I have been told not to feed them treats until they are laying eggs - is this true? I have some sweetcorn which i was going to feed them - should i give them sweetcorn also?


Faceca, 23 May 2017

The reason why your chickens aren’t tame is probably because they weren’t handled enough when they were chicks. They need to be confident in the fact that you are keeping them safe and healthy, and even though you might be doing all you can, if your chickens weren’t handled enough when they were young they just might never want to be picked up or stroked. You can always try taming untamed chickens by offering food from your hand. In some cases quite flighty birds have gained confidence in their owners after time and have completely changed around, but this takes a lot of time and perseverance.

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