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How To Tame Your Chickens

If you treat your chickens with worms and healthy scraps when you’re in the garden, they'll soon become tame. handle them as well when they're still young and they'll soon be completely chilled out in human company.

Chickens who are happy around humans will feed from your hand or even test their luck by hopping through the front door, or begging at your ankles like a dog. If you have children, get them involved in the taming process, showing them how to feed the birds from the hand and handle them in a manner comfortable for human and hen alike.

A young boy holding his beautiful, tame chicken
A young boy holding a tame hen, who has been handled from an early age

Handle Your Chickens When They Are Chicks

If you want tame chickens, buy them at 'point of lay' - that is, when they're still young. If you're hatching your on birds, you can handle them after a couple of weeks. If you keep up the contact as the birds grow they will enjoy the attention, and may even nestle down in your lap like contented cats.

If you are buying from a breeder, ask whether the birds have been handled. Ones which have become used to humans already will be much easier to 'tame'.

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 hen - friendly and beautiful in equal measure

Why Are My Chickens Not Tame?

Sometimes hens just seem to remain nervous and afraid of humans. The usual reason is that they weren’t handled enough when they were younger. 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 Leave a comment

Nicole, 11 July 2021

Hi someone gave us a chicken I have no idea how old it is or if it had been tamed I want to keep it as a backyard chicken but I don’t know if it was tamed my parents want to kill and eat it but I wanna give her a chance. Any advice?

Simone, 22 March 2020

Getting ready to take the leap to get some backyard chickens...:)))

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?