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Trust Training Chickens

Trust training your chickens

Chickens, are a prey species. While adorable, these small birds are exceptionally afraid and untrusting. (You'd probably be, too, if you were at the bottom of the food chain.) You want to be in your flock’s circle of trust. (Inside the circle are people you trust; outside the circle are people you don't.) So, how can you get your chickens to trust you? If you trust train your chickens daily, your flock will bond with you and feel safe. We’ll explain how.

Chickens roosting in the kitchen

📷: Shelby Stone

Start Early

The younger your chickens are when they meet you, the easier it will be to earn their trust. This is called "imprinting," and they will treat you just like their feathered parents. That being said, it's always a positive time to develop a relationship with your flock. 

Chicky Trust Training

📷: Shelby Stone

Lots of Treats

There’s a saying that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. The same method works for chickens.

Offering treats from your hand is the quickest way to trust train your chickens. Chicks can have any treat adult chickens eat. However, make sure you offer grower grit to help them process the treats in their crop. Not sure how to take care of your chicks? We've got some fantastic tips to help you. 

Looking for some healthy chicken treats to feed your flock? Check out the below.

  • Grub Bugs
  • Herbal Blends
  • Chicken Scratch
  • Flaxseed
  • Oatmeal
  • Cracked Corn 🌽
  • Hard-boiled Egg 🥚
  • Scrambled Egg 🍳
  • Strawberries 🍓
  • Cottage Cheese
  • Cooked Noodles/Pasta 🍜
  • Grapes 🍇
  • Raisins
  • Meat Scraps
  • Imprinting and treats

    📷: Shelby Stone

    Spend Quality Time with Lots of Handling

    All great chicken parents maximize the time they spend with their flock. To capitalize on this time, you’ll want to create a friendly and calm environment each time you interact with them. Here are some tips to help.

    • Create a routine: interact with your flock at the same time daily.
    • Have a comfy place for you to sit.
    • Make sure it’s quiet: no dogs, no machinery and add relaxing music.
    • Have lots of chicken treats available in a cup.
    • Talk to your flock in a calm and quiet voice.

    Getting Chickens Used to Being Handled…

    1. Quietly enter their area and sit at your roost with the treat cup in your lap, smock pocket, etc.
    2. Wear items that catch their attention, such as a sparkly bracelet. Chickens have exceptional vision.
    3. Call your chickens over using a soft voice. If they're not interested, drop a few treats on the floor a short distance from your feet.
    4. When they come over, reward them by quietly talking to them and dropping more treats.
    5. When they’re used to responding to being called, offer treats in your hand at eye level.
    6. After they learn to eat out of your hand, try petting them with your other hand. If the chickens don't like it, keep trying.
    7. Put some treats in your lap to get them to learn to jump in your lap.
    8. The last step is the chickens trusting you enough to pick them up and put them in your lap. Make sure there are treats in your lap to reward them immediately.

    Treats, treats, treats! The easiest way to trust train your chickens is to offer them lots of their favorite treats. As always, when you’re done hanging out with your flock, remember to wash your hands. You might also need to change your clothing depending on where your roost is.

    Rocking a chicken to sleep

    📷: Shelby Stone

    Practice Makes Perfect... and More Treats!

    As we mentioned earlier, establishing a routine with your chickens is essential, and how you make them friendly. You'll want to spend time with them daily if not multiple times a day (we know everyone is busy).

    You should also practice interacting with your flock in random places. You can use their run, their yard, or even in your home. Don’t forget to keep your interactions calm and quiet. All prey species scare easily, so refrain from quick movements.

    We know urban chickens are becoming increasingly popular. Special thanks to our Social Media Manager, Shelby, sharing her photos and tips with us. If you have any tips for getting your chickens to trust you or pictures of you interacting with your flock, please share them with us. You can email them to hoomans@smallpetselect.com or post them on our socials.


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