How do I win round a very skittish hen

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Ali Warburton

How do I win round a very skittish hen

Post by Ali Warburton » Wed Jun 17, 2009 1:19 am


Another newbie problem. Three of the four hens I have just aquired are settling in well but one is really fearful it seems of most things. The others tollerate being picked up and cuddled and enjoy joining me when I am digging up the earth and are now eating out of our hands. Do we just accept that she is very shy or continue to try to win her confidence. If a crow or a gull flys over she she runs like hell and flaps about spooking the others. Also she is very difficult to get back in the ark where as we can gently usher the others in she thinks we are going to kill her and so legs it, it is quite comical for us trying to get her to go where we want but it must be stressful for her. I am told that they go to bed naturally at dusk but as they are suburban hens and there are cats about someone is always on chicken wrangling duties when they free range, so we have to shut them away when we are in the house.

Oh and another question can you let them out in the rain. I live in west wales and we get a lot of rain the other day it was like a monsoon so I kept them in it had dried up by early evening so they got an hour or so to forage around. But they seemed so glad to get out I felt guilty for keeping them in.

Any advice eagerly accepted

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Re: How do I win round a very skittish hen

Post by Tim » Wed Jun 17, 2009 9:41 pm

Hi Ali,

The easiet time to get them used to you is when they are chicks / young but hens will relax a little given time, once they get to know the routine and know where the food is ;)

You can slowly build her confidence by having a good routine, not chasing her, & feeding treats by hand from time to time. She will probably never be really tame but she will find her place. I've had some real skittish hens that in the end have kept their distance, just out of arms reach but still developped into inquisitive hens..

It will take a while for her to work out where bed is. Normally if you keep them in the house for the first week, they will go back in at night but I realise this isn't so practical if it gets hot in the house during the day. Eventually, they get the message.

Cats don't usually bother large fowl but if they are a smaller breed / young you are right in keeping watch.

With the rain, yes, you can let them out - often, they will shelter but still get wet on days when it's continuous rain. It won't hurt them to get a bit wet but while they are young, watch they don't get too wet.

I hope this is of help...

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