Catching Chooks.

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brahmist
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Joined: Fri Feb 18, 2011 7:50 pm

Catching Chooks.

Post by brahmist »

I have read a few times now how people have trouble catching
their birds.What we do now is herd them to one area in the garden
where we have,what you might call a small run with a door,which has
string attached.Now if you have ever watched sheep trials,you will
know what I mean,makes life a lot easier.Good luck.

:-)17 :-)17 :-)08 :-)08
Philcott
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Re: Catching Chooks.

Post by Philcott »

Even easier is to wait until dusk and they have gone too roost. Then just quietly pick them up and do what you have to do! No stress, no fuss. The worst thing you can do to a chicken is try and catch it when they don't want to be caught. And stress causes a depressed immune system, which in turn means illness, very often.
Breed Registrar for Autosexing Poultry on behalf of the Rare Poultry Society.
www.autosexing-poultry.co.uk
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Marigold
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Re: Catching Chooks.

Post by Marigold »

You just have to work on getting them to associate you with nice things, like any animal. If you shake the corn box every time you go to see them, and then give them a measley small amount as reward, you'll soon be falling over them and nearly get killed in the rush every time you appear. New hens need to be 'homed' to their run at first, so if you get them tame whilst they are confined there in the initial two weeks, there should be no problems thereafter. Mine follow me round the garden much more obediently than my dog, largely because he knows he doesn't get fed out there!
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foxy
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Re: Catching Chooks.

Post by foxy »

I have the opposite problem, with large and docile faverolles which are always in the way, it's a case of trying not to fall over them! :D
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carolb0101
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Re: Catching Chooks.

Post by carolb0101 »

We've had our girls for 3 weeks now and they still run away from us. I started talking to them and stroking them when they went to bed at night, but they weren't keen. Now they sit right at the back of the perch so I can't reach them.
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Marigold
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Re: Catching Chooks.

Post by Marigold »

If they are hybrids, they will have been raised in a large flock where they had very little contact with people, certainly not close enough to be touched, until they were boxed up and sent on a traumatic journey to the farm you bought them from. (It's usual for retailers of hens to buy in batches of hybrids from larger producers.) They will then have probably been all together with a mixed batch of pullets they don't know, and will have had difficulty in forming a flock structure because members of the flock keep on coming and going as some are bought and others may join the group - all very upsetting for them. Then one day, you came along, and although their luck was about to change for the better, they didn't know that, and will take a while to settle in and begin to get over the shock and stress of yet another change of surroundings and more new people.
Just be patient, move quietly around them during the day in the run, doing ordinary things like poo picking, and keep on talking to them so they get to know your gentle voice. It has been known for people to take a book, or their knitting, into the run and just sit there among the birds so they get used to you being part of the scenery. Very restful and soothing for the human as well as the hens. Whenever you go in, shake a corn box and say your 'food signal' - (I call 'Chook! Chook!' and they come racing to me from wherever they are at the other end of the garden, and the Cream Legbar sometimes flies right over the large pond to get to me first.) Sprinkle a little bit of mixed corn on the ground round your feet when you say the magic word, and just let them come gradually to explore it. Don't attempt to touch them until they are confidently pecking round your feet whenever you appear and signal to them. Then progress to holding a few grains on your hand, get down low, and sit patiently until the bravest one pecks it off and runs away. Keep going, not touching them, until they will all gather round and do this. It may be easier if you can position yourself so you sort of herd them towards a corner of the run, to keep them up together and near to you. As they get more confident you can begin to stroke their backs, and if they are near to laying, or in lay, they will crouch down and spread their wings, thinking you are an amorous cockerel. Spread your fingers out over her back, two fingers each side of her neck, and she should stand still under your hand. Doin't hurry this stage, but when you can do this easily, the next thing is to pick her up by running your other hand palm upwards under her tummy, pointing towards her head, and holding her legs, then lifting her whilst gently putting your other arm round her chest and over her wings. Soothe her in your arms until she settles, then put her legs down on the ground before releasing her, don't drop her from a height so she has to flap and panic. When you pick up a bird always do it like this, don't put both hands over her wings as this will leave her legs unsupported and she will panic and you may get badly scratched by her flailing feet. Support her weight on your forearm, hold her legs in one hand, and restrain her wings gently and she will feel secure and soon settle. In time you will only need to hold her legs and support her on your arm without restraining her wings.
If they are never chased, and you are always quiet with them, and always reward them when you go in to them, they will come to trust you quite quickly, and gradually overcome their understandable nervousness, which is based on past experiences (or inexperience of how kind people can actually be.) Of course if you can get them when they are chicks, or young growers, or even hatch your own, they are easier to tame, but POL pullets will get there in the end. Always make allowances because you are dealing with a prey species whose instinct is to run and panic. Some breeds of hen are harder to tame than others, eg Leghorns and their hybrid versions (White Stars) are rather flighty, and many people also say Bluebelles are quite nervous, but with patience you will get there in the end with all of them. apart from the fact that it's great fun, it's very useful when you need to pick them up to examine them for parasites or injuries, if you can do this easily without stressing them out.
Just watch out for the ones at the bottom of the pecking order, who get pushed to the back once the top birds realise it's first come, first served, and maybe take them out on their own away from the 'bosses' for a bit of TLC sometimes. It's such a lovely thing when they get really tame and obviously watch out for you and run to see what you have for them that day, even if you know it's really only 'cupboard love.' I'm about to get some young pullets and shall have to do this all over again with them - I'm looking forward to it. Next step, an evening class in lion taming, maybe!
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