How to Train Chickens to Come When Called

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How to Train Chickens to Come When Called (and Why You Should)

Don’t give your chickens a filling treat while free ranging, close to the time you plan to get them in. These hens enjoying corn on the cob in the great outdoors, are not likely to follow me into the coop for scratch, and probably won’t be hungry enough do so, for at least an hour.

I’m not writing this because training chickens is difficult. I’m writing it because it’s easy and most people don’t know it. The survival skills of domestic poultry may not be as finely honed as those of their wild ancestors, but modern chickens remain remarkably alert to anything that might result in a fine meal. And that means it’s easy to train them.

I’m also writing this because training chickens is tremendously useful.Β  It’s easier to keep the flock safe if they are trained. It’s even possible to train multiple flocks with distinct calls, to return to separate coops.

How to train chickens to come when called

Here’s the gist: Basically you teach them to associate a sound you make with a special treat they can have if they return to the coop (or wherever you want them). Now the details:

What to use for the treat

  • How to Train Chickens to Come When Called (and Why You Should)

    This mix of scratch grains, dried meal worms, and bird seed, is what I usually use to get my chickens back into the coop.

    Something special that they really love, not their regular feed.

  • Something you can sprinkle and spread around, so all birds are certain to get some. If you are just going to plunk something (such as a watermelon wedge) in one place, only the dominant birds will come, because only they will get to eat it. The timid flock members need to know that they, too, will be fed. Scratch grains, bird seed, dried meal worms, or a mix, are all good choices.

What to use for the call

  • A whistle or a bell is often recommended.
  • I prefer to use my voice, because I don’t have to remember to bring it with me. And with your voice, it’s easy to create different calls for multiple flocks (see below).
  • If you use your voice, decide on a call that is clearly distinct from your normal talking.
How to Train Chickens to Come When Called (and Why You Should)

Bantam brahma comes to attention when I begin calling.

The process

  • For maximum safety from predators, train them to associate the call with the treat before you let them free range.
  • Give them the treat in the coop or run, while you are making the call, with the container of treats in full view. You don’t have to let them see the treats, but they will learn more quickly if they can associate both a sight and a sound with the treat.
  • The more frequently you do this, the more quickly they will learn. I do it 2-3 times a day, when training a new flock of young chickens.
  • After a few days, keep the treat hidden while you make the call, to see if they’ve learned to associate the call with the food. If they come to attention, looking at you expectantly, they’ve got it.
  • Be patient. It could take weeks. As soon as one gets it, others will follow her, even before they themselves get it. However, I try to be sure that all birds have made the association between the call and the treat, before I let the flock free range. I want to be able to call them home even when they can’t see me and when they can’t see each other.
  • They are less likely to come when called, if they are not hungry. So, don’t give them pizza or corn on the cob in the backyard an hour before you intend to call them in for scratch.
  • They are less likely to follow you into the coop if they haven’t been out for very long. Don’t expect to get them back into the coop on a beautiful afternoon after they’ve been out for only 30 minutes.
How to Train Chickens to Come When Called (and Why You Should)

Hens enjoying their treat in the run, just after I called them in.

Advantages to training your chickens to come when called

  • You can give them their outdoor time during any part of the day. Many people limit chicken “recess” to late afternoon, because they know that chickens normally return to the coop on their own, as the sun goes down. But if they are trained to come to your call, you can let them out and get them in whenever you want.
  • You can get them in when you notice predators. This can really help you coexist peacefully with wildlife. I’m particularly watchful during the fall hawk migration season, when aerial attacks are common. Cooper’s hawks are especially sneaky, so when I notice one lurking, I waste no time in calling the hens to safety.
  • You may be able to call a hen who has disappeared. On rare occasion, one of mine flies the fence and vanishes into the shrubby woods beyond. I find it really helpful to be able to call her back.
How to Train Chickens to Come When Called (and Why You Should)

On the roost after treat time, and ready for bed.

Training multiple flocks within earshot of one another

There may be times when you want to train multiple flocks, each to a different call. When I add new birds to my flock, I let the old and the new free range together, but temporarily house them in separate areas (to prevent bullying). I train the new ones to return to their coop with a different call. If I used just one call for all of them, the older chickens would go to both coops and hog all of the treats, and the timid youths would linger outside. Here’s what to keep in mind when training multiple flocks:

  • Each flock must be trained to come to its own call, even when the treat container is out of sight. If you show the container, all birds of all flocks will come. And, once a flock learns the other flock’s call, you can no longer use that call to separate them.
  • Make sure the calls you use for different flocks are clearly distinct. Each call should be a unique phrase, rhythm, and pitch.
  • Keep in mind that this only works for as long as the flocks consider themselves separate. If they intermingle for part of the day, as mine do, they eventually become one flock and any bird will follow any other, to either call. This works for me, since the ultimate goal is always to completely integrate the flocks eventually, anyway. So, when they begin to function as a single flock, I move the pullets in with the older birds and need only one call.
How to Train Chickens to Come When Called (and Why You Should)

How to Train Chickens to Come When Called (and Why You Should)

Β Have you tried training chickens? How did you do it? How well did it work?

Shared on: HomeAcre Hop


Comments

How to Train Chickens to Come When Called — 113 Comments

  1. When my chooks are young, every morning when I carry out the kitchen scraps, I start calling them “Heeeere, chick, chick, chick!” and they learn to come running every time they see me. It’s pretty cute, and after awhile I don’t have to call them at all–if they see me with a bucket, they come running.

  2. I do not have hens but my former neighbour had his girls trained to follow him in a neat row whenever he sang opera (no food). He looked like the pied piper. It’s so sweet, and, as you point out, safe and smart.

  3. My grandpa did this with his chickens, ducks, and geese, but he would clap twice (a few times but always in couplets) to bring all the birds back into the coop at night. If we ever get chickens again I hope to do this.

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  5. I trained my chickens for easy moving from one yard to another…………………I just get the baby voice going and call come on chicker pickers …………over and over ..they follow me like a train…………I am sure the neighbors get a laugh out of it…….but we go around the yard and get the bugs on the rock wall……….love my girls…………..

  6. My chicks come when I call, “where you at?”. One seems to know her name, Red. She’s the friendliest and likes me to pick here up but Roo doesn’t like me to pick her up. She runs so fast to me when she sees me. It is very funny. My Grandma loved her chicks too. One nieghbor said he thinks it’s hilarious.

  7. when I was young, we had a poultry farm and my mom would always call “bitty bitty bitty” when it was feeding time. I’m 66 yrs old and bought 6 chickens and a rooster plus 2 turkeys 4 months ago. Memories from the past came flooding back to me and I started doing the same thing my mom did, for no particular reason other than, my mom did it. I free range my flock and when it’s time to come in, I start calling, “here bitty bitty bitty” and they all come running. I never thought it was for any particular reason until I read your article. Guess I’m a chicken whisperer, at least to by flock, lol.

  8. We were cleaned out completely about 6 years ago by critters and lost all the chickens, ducks, and family goose “Norma Jean” of 14 years and my husband has said until we build safe housing for them he refuses to feed critters with productive pets like chickens. Your information is helping me gather information and knowledge of which breeds and types of chickens to aim for. We live in Michigan and the winters are pretty rough, so we do need to build something with warmth and comfort in mind. Hopefully this summer 2015 will be the start of more “gifts” of eggs and the joy of having chickens on our 10 acre farm in southern Michigan. Wish me luck, and thank you for all this helpful information to make better choices.

    • I love to see them run to me!! It’s so cute!! Sounds like you need a Great Pyrennes to protect your flock. They are built for cold weather and perfect for chicks or goats. Mine loves our cats too.he suffers a bit here in the south but I try to keep him cool in the summer. I haven’t lost anything since we got him. Prior to then I couldn’t let my girls out ever. Hawks and raccoons were eating everything I had. Now I have a fenced in paddock and they come and go. Get one. You won’t regret it…

        • No training for me… He was a rescue who had been tied up with no animal and very little human contact…. The inly problem Ifaced with him was climbing the fence… Electricity took quick care of that and now he never even tries to climb.. Im sure some Pyrs would eat your flock but I just took a chance with him…you wont be sorry….

        • Anatolians are also great. You shouldn’t have much training, cuz you should never put a puppy to guard anything. Most good breeders expose their dogs to many types of animals, so they know which animal the dog prefers (my mom raises them). Some dogs from the same litter like goats, chickens, or sheep, so they should go to a farm that has their preference.

        • I rescued an Australian Cattle Dog years ago who lived to be 16. The whole time we had her we kept poultry. She was 100% free – no cost – and she was worth her weight in gold for the protection she gave to the flock on “her” property! She would not let an animal into the yard or a bird light on the lawn – including robins! Hawks – if they flew over, she would bark and bark. We saw her grab a pullet from a hawk’s talons be leaping into the air – the pullet survived but if looks could kill, we’d all be dead — that hawk perched in a tree over the yard for a bit and really gave us all the evil eye after deprived of its meal!

      • Hey did you mean a Great Pryrameese dog. I have one and often wondered if he would do well with my chicks. Im super excited about training my chicks to a certain call.

        • Hey did you mean a Great Pryrameese dog. I have one and often wondered if he would do well with my chicks. Im super excited about training my chicks to a certain call. Wow I just so realized I have been spelling this wrong but we’re talking about the same dog and I wondered if he would like to heard chickens since that’s what there supposed to do

        • The name really is Great Pyrennes dog. They are from that mountainous region between France and Spain. They are wonderful livestock guardian dogs!

          • Hello I live in a hamlet in the Pyrenees mountains and see the dogs in the mountains there really name in France is Patou,they are raised from a pup amongst the herds of sheep, cattle, goats,they eat sleep and live until they almost think there part of the herd,this is their training.Then up on the mountains for six months with the herd to protect from bears,wolves,Watch the videos very impressive!One morning I woke up to there at my door in the winter months.

    • I know the feeling. My dogs killed 18 in one massive slaughter a couple of years ago. I was heartsick. One country friend of mine told me something that stuck with me. “Listen, just remember EVERYTHING likes chicken, dogs, coyotes, wild cats n owls. Just do what you can to protect em. Its all a part of nature, you’re gonna lose a few, try not to name em (which i have failed at) an just start again.welcome to farm life” i now have 30 and we are having a great time

      • That was sage advice from your friend, Brook. I agree that it is good to expect some losses. About the only negative to the backyard chicken craze is that it makes some people hate predators and declare war on them. But in reality, it’s possible to deter the vast majority of predator attacks with good planning of the coop, run, chicken yard, etc. However, nothing is 100% effective, and people need to understand that there WILL be losses.

        • I rescued an Australian Cattle Dog years ago who lived to be 16. The whole time we had her we kept poultry. She was 100% free – no cost – and she was worth her weight in gold for the protection she gave to the flock on “her” property! She would not let an animal into the yard or a bird light on the lawn – including robins! Hawks – if they flew over, she would bark and bark. We saw her grab a pullet from a hawk’s talons be leaping into the air – the pullet survived but if looks could kill, we’d all be dead — that hawk perched in a tree over the yard for a bit and really gave us all the evil eye after deprived of its meal!

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  10. We have a few hens led by a wild guinea who decided it was lonely, & moved in. She is bossy, yet quite the watchdog. But she leads the free-ranging into neighbors’ yards out of sight & our control, altho we have nearly 4 acres of lush green grass, bushes & vegetation. But she/they prefer the neighbor’s junkyard. I guess there’s more bugs there. She trains every hen we get to do the same. And their egg production has depleted for many months now. Maybe we need to start all over with a new flock after we figure out how to get them to roost on lower levels in the inside of shed to reach & cuddle to develop their trust & loyalty. Our new home chkn shed is too tall inside where they perch to reach them & pet when they are too sleepy to resist at night, which helps acclimate them to me for easier daytime fanclub behaviors I enjoyed before we moved here. The chickens were so fun & social. Got to figure out some solutions. Thank you for your excellent tips.

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  12. How early can you start training them? We just got our day old chicks today and they are temporarily housed in our garage in a huge water trough with shavings. When I tap on the trough and say “here chick, chick, chick” they come running over to the noise they hear on the through. But, as they get bigger they won’t be in there any longer and that noise won’t be there. Plus, I can’t give them treats yet. So, I’m wondering if I’m starting too soon or if I should find another noise other than thumping on the trough.

    • Well, you can’t give them scratch grains for treats at that young age, but you can give them clumps of dirt/grass so they can forage for bugs and nibble on the grass, if it’s warm enough in your area to get to the grass (we are still under a lot of snow). You could also give them chopped mixed greens. I think it’s fine to start training them this soon, and you don’t really need a noise other than your voice.

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  14. I or my husband simply step outside and get a parade of followers. they love to help in the garden,or barn when I am cleaning, hoeing, or digging waiting for errant worms or bugs. sometimes I have to chase them out of holes to put in my plants. the cat also like to be involved in any outside activity and investigates holes and plants to be sure they meet her satisfaction. we look like the pied piper as we go about out chores without cat chicken parade.

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  16. my girls were all raised in my house in a pen I built in the dining room. I kept them indoors until we got their own built & all have been moved outdoors now. They all come running as soon as they see me wanting food & attention. Not sure if they think they are human children or not but they are my babies & follow me all over their pen

  17. Mum just found the site on facie.I have 23 chooks and 2% of them ar tame
    I really love chooks and they come up for oats. Chook-Chook really likes them and twinkle toes bearly gets any. I’m 8 and I DON’T eat my best friend!

    Anjuli

  18. 2 of them ar all most tame and i am working on Ginger, a lovely chicken.
    we don’t have a rooster so i don’t have chicks

  19. We are relatively new at raising chickens (this is second year) and our chickens come running to “Girls, girls, girls…” or the sound of the worm bag getting shaken. We also have Pekin ducks that come to “Babies….babies”. Funny how they know who is getting called. My “girls” and “babies” both free range and always come when called. We added new baby chicks this year and I have started calling them “girls” also and didn’t think about trying to have a different call for different flocks. Good idea that I will try next time we add new ones to the flock. Thanks for the interesting idea.

  20. I have a flock of four layers and two roosters (supposed to be all pullets) that are about 9 weeks old. I didn’t even have to try to train them. The two roosters seem to be in love with me! They come when they see me or hear my voice and the hens usually follow. I love my chickens.

    • Maybe I should have entitled this “how to train chickens to NOT come when called”, because the important point is that it’s beneficial to have them come only to a specific call, not to any move or noise you make. That way you can get them where you want them, when you want them there, and you can also train multiple flocks, each to a different call. But anyway, that’s great, sounds like you’re enjoying your flock!

  21. My husband slaps his leg a few times.
    That gets her attention and she comes running.
    Followed by a command.
    ‘Up’ jump up onto something, ‘step up’ onto a hand, stay, jump, turn around. he even lays 3 items out, says, “Show me the money’ and she has been trained to tap the coin.
    We started out with 3 guaranteed hens… two turned into roosters.
    So one Americauna chicken and one bored freshly retired husband.
    She has learned how to ‘talk’in recognizable English. Says, ‘corn’ for popcorn, ‘up’ when she jumps onto get cage. ‘out’ for outside.
    Taps on the balcony door to be let out, taps on it to be let in.
    Knows key words like ‘poop’, ‘cage’ shhhh’ ‘No’ ‘lay down’ ‘Bath’, ‘shake’, for after she comes out of her sand box,
    Is trained to walk outside and poop on a boot tray outside the door There are times her feet are on the tray and her overhang is not and that annoys her. She does not mess her food or nest area.
    So other than cleaning up under her roost every morning, it is pretty easy.
    My husband keeps plastic forks from restaurants and calls them ‘manure forks’.
    They are ideal pooplet size to scoop into a jug to go to the garden.
    She gets her cat H harness on, rides on my bike handlebar over to the community garden.
    Chicken are easy to train. Just catch them doing a behavior and code it to a word.
    You have to do something 3 times. The first time is scary.. the second… they are not sure, the third? ‘WE have been doing this for EVER’.
    Petting on the back or head is a dominance move. I teach kids to tickle Mrs. B under her crop to make her giggle.
    Always have a handful of sunflower seeds in my pocket to give to them to feed her.
    She just tapped HER key on my keyboard. The caps lock key has a green light. That means… put some music on. She likes British 60s rock.
    With the chicks, my husband would say, “Oh No’ when some food fell off the rubbermaid tub perch area.
    Then would pick it up and give it to them.
    We were at my inlaws and my 93 yr old father in law gets up with a stagger. She looks up and says, Oh No” all concerned. So funny.
    Yes she has a rabbit cage and goes visiting with us. A puppy pad wherever we are and she settles down to visit.

    Chicks come out of the shell with the ability to learn, not like a puppy that you have to wait 10 weeks or 3 months to train.
    Attention span is shorter but they have adult brains and memory.
    Now… I challenge everyone to look at a bucket of chicken the same way. Grin.

    • That is amazing! I enjoyed reading all the different things you taught your chickens. My husband is in the process of building the hen house and I can’t wait to have chicks of my own. I will try your techniques for sure. I trained my dog very well with treats, and a bell to let me know when he needs to go out. The techniques are quite similar. I’m ready to give it a try πŸ™‚ Thanks for sharing. A video would be great too!!

    • Nolan you have given me so many ideas! I just retired and my first chicks arrived 2 days ago. I have 7 so training will be more time consuming but I am certain they are the brightest chicks ever. They will be teaching me!

    • Hi! I agree that all animals are underestimated regarding their intelligence. I’m studying now on how to do it right when setting up your first coop. I love this site. Your reply made me read it twice. I loved it immensely. How are you able to train your chick on doing potty somewhere? Thank you for the smiles and appreciation of animal intelligence.

  22. Just got chickens this year. I have seen hawks, large crows, and eagles here so worry about free ranging. I never paid attention to the times of year I saw them. In the process of whistle training now. I am worried about them staying warm enough in winter (Rocky Mts.)even though the chicken man said they will be OK. Should I put a little heater. Also heard we need a light in winter to keep them laying but the chicken man said he had no light and got many eggs all winter.
    Can I raise my own meal worms? I have bins of red worms for compost. They multiply like crazy under a rock with corn meal sprinkled under the rock. So maybe I don’t need meal worms?

    • Hi Arlene, yes it is possible to raise mealworms yourself if you want to, but if you’re feeding some of the red worms to the chickens, raising mealworms is unnecessary. I haven’t raised mealworms myself (i give dried mealworms), so I have no how-to advice on that. As for keeping your birds warm in winter, all birds need shelter from wind and precipitation (yet good ventilation). Most breeds can survive extreme cold, but those with very large wattles and single blade combs are more susceptible to frost bite, and if you have birds like that, you might do well to add a heater. As for egg production in winter, they lay pretty well even in winter with no added light during their first year, but winter laying tends to decline rapidly with age. My own view is that if you induce older hens to lay in winter with a light, it’s a good idea to give them heat, too, if your winters are very cold. The reason is that both laying eggs and keeping warm in extreme cold place high demands on the body.

  23. I was wondering if anyone has been able to train old hens to come when called as well. We have a mixture of old (1-3 years old) and newer (5 months) hens and I was wondering if anyone has had luck starting with older ladies. I’m assuming the babies will catch on fairly fast and the older ladies will follow, but just wanted to see if anyone had any experience. Thanks!

    • Hi Taylor, I have always started training them before 6 months of age, but I’m willing to bet the farm that even 3 year olds can be trained. All it takes is learning to recognize signals that lead to food, which is a pretty basic ability that animals need for survival throughout life. I would think that all but the senile could be trained. Oh and if they’re deaf or blind, that would be challenging. But a normal healthy 3 year old should be able to learn just fine.

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  25. i need to try this I have a back of 9 chicks almost Pulits I’m sure they’ll do it just fine cause every time I come out there with no treat they come out to greet me!

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  27. I whistle three times and they come running. They know that a two note whistle is for the dogs and ignore that. My roommate can’t whistle so we tried a dog training clicker. The birds all picked it up quick. I was surprised how far away they can hear a clicker. It works for the ducks, geese, and guineas too.

  28. The adventure continues.
    We got a new chick this spring for ‘company’.
    My husband named her Lucky… as in.. she will be Lucky to never get sent to freezer camp.
    I figured chickens were plug and play… So I have one dainty stern older lady. and Lucky who I swear snaps her suspenders after every crap.
    She is a farmin’ chicken…. and Mrs B is a city girl.
    Completely different dispositions that snipe back and forth.
    Then there are sweet moments while the older one makes encouraging murmurs while the younger ‘eggs’.
    The older chicken had a brutal molt just when the upstart was in full pullet splendor and started laying eggs.
    She was so depressed, painfully sensitive and embarrassed.
    So there is now a whole new repertoire of words.
    They understand ‘cage’, ‘outside’, ‘bedtime’, share nice. ‘hush’, ‘snack’, ‘no’ ‘bath’
    This spring there was a baby California Quail caught in the garden netting. I brought it home, put some bird seed in a coffee grinder and prepared myself for it to die…
    Nope. The spring chick Lucky adopted her and they became best mutt and jeff buddies.
    Sam bounces around between the cages and is just as tame.
    They all love to watch TV until a bird comes on..
    Then the quail chirps a warning and the other 2 ladies growl…
    The quail has the best manners. any treat and she gives a 2 toned ‘thank-you’ chirp.
    Will send you a picture of the girls at Bathtime.
    The Quail Sam is playing ‘lifeguard’ waiting her turn in the sandbox.
    As they finish I take them outside, instruct them to ‘shake’ then they come back in.
    I just open the door and say ‘cage’ and they march through the kitchen and hop up onto their cage area.
    The older chicken mutters Up,UP,UP to herself as she does it. so funny.
    The cage in front gets put on the sand tub when they are done and that is where they hang out all day.
    They each have a seedcup in their cages and when I sweep the spilled seeds out daily it goes into the white cage bottom ‘buffet’
    They love to scratch around there for goodies.
    Will try to get a picture of Mrs B on the bike in spring.
    Don’t underestimate them. Seriously… could be our Americauna and Crested Legbar are exceptional?
    But I think they are as smart as parrots, dogs, pigs and the odd human.

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  31. I have tried everything with my 5 wk old chicks and it is becoming more stressful than ever! I’ve got half of the girls to come to my call with string cheese (I call, flash the cheese and walk backwards to where I need them to go) but there are several that become nearly impossible to get in. They run and fly and hide I’ve had to use fish net to get them with little success. Any other ideas for me please???

    • Time, patience, perhaps a more desirable treat (scratch grains, hulled sunflower seed), and make sure they have had plenty of time to run around and build up an appetite. They won’t necessarily want to come in after only an hour or two of running around. But after 3-4 hrs, they probably will.

      Another thing, it’s easier to teach them while they are a “captive” audience. Notice above when I describe “the process”, I teach them to associate the treat with the call while they are in their run, not free ranging. There is so much excitement and distraction for young birds free ranging, it will be harder for them to learn in that setting.

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  33. My chickens will even come when my 3 year old grandson calls them from my iPhone or iPad on FaceTime! It is so cute!

  34. my girls come running when I come outside with a empty bowl then when we get to the coop I show them the bowl is empty, they look so sad…. the I take a whole lot of seeds from my pocket chuck them on the ground and as I walk away all I hear is them clucking away, pecking and scrambling around.

  35. I had a silky (at the time I only knew her as a Chinese chicken) when I lived in the Philippines. I worked at a free standing birth center who’s fees were based on donations and we had clients who would pay in things like rice, homemade brooms, bananas, veggies, or in this case, a Chinese Chicken.
    Anyway, I named her Kungpow (you know, cause she was a Chinese Chicken) and taught her to come when I called her name. When I washed my clothes (we washed them by hand) she would come sit on my shoulder the whole time. πŸ™‚ She really was a great chicken!!

  36. I’ve just got 2 new baby chicks to do for my calf club and I need to teach them some trick and I have no idea what to do! thanks for the tips!

  37. I just adopted 9 ladies from my wonderful friend. My girls and I fell in love right away. We have a large fenced in backyard in the country so freerange is widely accepted here. But I needed to learn how to get them back in the coop when I need them to because our inside dog sees them as chew toys. So when it’s time for her to go out the ladies go in their coop. And I call to them, “hey ladies” hahaha. They are m’ladies. Thank you for your article.

  38. What a wonderful blog, exceptional, thank you for all your input. We’ll get our chickens end of March, and a Roman tuff goose. We’ve been following Justin and Rebecca Rhodes, abundantpermaculture.com. on utube, their info and format is very simply presented and doable, check in later,. Star in Texas

  39. Thank you so much for the wonderful information on your site. I’ve enjoyed reading all your articles are we prepare to get our chickens in the next month or two. I would love to train my ladies to the sound of my voice but I’m thinking that might be unrealistic. Can you train them to several voices? I know there will be afternoon/evenings when I might not be home and my husband will need to round them up. Or my 7 year old is excited to add to her chore list and I know she’ll want to call them in as well. So my thought is a voice call probably won’t work? Maybe we should get a bell we hang on the run? Thank you for your thoughts.

    • Yes, they will come to different people using the same call if it sounds about the same from each person. For my current flock, I have one call, it’s “chick – chick – chicken” in a high pitched yell, and it works for both me and my son. It might be hard to come up with a pitch that both your husband and 7 year old can do, however. A bell will work, but it will be best if you can train them to come to the sound without having to see the bell. If they’re coming because of the sight of the bell and not because of the sound, then you might not be able to get them to come when they can’t see you (like if they wander off while free ranging).

  40. All the stories are too cute. We had a chicken show up about 3 months ago. I have been planning the build of our coop and to purchase baby chicks.

    A week ago today, I received 16 chicks and 1 rooster. We started building our 16×8 coop with a16x8 run. It’s completely framed now. Just need to put up the plywood and poultry mesh on the run. Next, build their nesting boxes and roosts.

    I’m very excited as they eat and grow. They have almost doubled in size. They are now 9 days old. I’m really enjoying them. I made the brooder out of 2 clear Rubbermaid containers. Their home is in my formal living room. Who would’ve thought I’d raise chicks in my living room?? I don’t let the grandkids or dogs in there, let alone chick!!!

    Our adopted hen is an Austra White. She started laying eggs last week. We got 1 egg everyday except on Sunday. We joked that she took a day of rest on the appropriate day, lol!! I started calling her by saying chick chick chick, she comes running to me. As it’s been cold here, I bring her in at night in the laundry room. I put up a pole for her to roost on. She knows that around 6pm, I’m calling her to come in and have her treat of canned corn and peas and tortillas cut in small pieces. I talk to her as if she’ll answer me. I ask her what she was doing and tell her it’s time to go night night. She’s spoiled rotten, and I’m the crazy chicken lady!!!πŸ“πŸ“πŸ“πŸ“πŸ“πŸ“πŸ˜œ

    She actually follows me around and squats down when she wants me to hold her or pick her up. It’s hilarious!!!

    They are great little creatures. Like my lil kids. Lol!!

    Anyways, I’ve heard that having a mule/donkey helps keep predators away. Does anyone know if that’s true. My husband is getting ready to fence a large area up to and including the coop, in order to have 2 goats and the mule.

    I was raised at the beach in California. My friends and family can’t believe that I have moved to Kentucky and gone from beach girl to farm girl at my age of 57. I love it!!! Our grandkids get so excited and are thinking of names for each of the chicks.

    • YES!! If you dont believe it just “google” donkey dead coyote! Donkeys are great. That first purchase would save you a lot of time, money and heartache.

    • Just make sure the donkey is a jenny (female), as they are more nurturing. Males don’t seem to do the same type of job. Figures!

  41. You have a great website!! I have a question.. Is it necessary to put down wire mesh or wire screen on the “floor” of the chicken run and under the chicken coop?? What would be the Pros and Cons of doing this?? Thanks so much. In the process of ordering a chicken coop..

  42. I had never had chickens before and started out with six female chicks. From early on I used a high pitched “cheep cheep” whenever I interacted with them in their brooder. I think it reassured them that I was their “momma”. When they got older and moved to a coop, I would do the same. The first time out in the yard free from the coop, I found they would come near whenever I would “cheep cheep” I then offered treats of cracked corn and mealworms. I could also pick clover and they would let me feed them. Rattling the container with the treat would get their attention plus the call and now I have well trained chickens. They enjoy walking around the yard with me, keeping respectfully 6″ behind. They know I will turn over rocks with bugs beneath, etc. And they come whenever I call them.

  43. Hello there. I recently moved my coop and am wondering how long I should leave my ladies fenced in (if I need to at all) or will they eventually adjust to their new location? I had to move the coop, and last night there were several “zombie chickens” looking for their coop where it used to be. We were able to gather them up, and move them into the coop and we have left them in the coop all day to try to “reset” their homing instinct…but am wondering and interested in any suggestions you may have. They are true free range chickens, a flock of 60 birds on about 4 acres…they have never been fenced so I would prefer to avoid it…but I need to get them to move away from the area they grew up on.

  44. Thanks for the great information, we don’t have your predator issues in New Zealand, just rodents and that issue can be managed with a good cleaning program, i’m new to having chickens and your info has been a great help , cheers

  45. We rescued a German Shepherd from a chained life. His name was Buba and what a sweet dog. He guarded our chickens and ducks with his life. If one got out of the 100 x 50 foot chicken yard, Buba would cover her and walk slowly with the hen underneath him until they walked back into the chicken yard. Buba was a wonderful protector. Many years later we rescued another Shepherd and he promptly killed all the chickens. Our 40 acres backs up to a nature reserve and we have more than our share of racoons, possums and hawks and don’t get me started on the deer. So the moral of the story is, it’s the dogs heart, not necessarily their breed that determines whether they are good protectors.

  46. I have a slight problem, I want to train my chickens and we thought we should whistle, because that’s how my dad did it. There are three who would need to use the call, but one of us can’t whistle. Plus we all have different voices so we couldn’t use our voice. But when I saw your website I was really impressed. I thought hey – maybe Janet can help!!!
    Do you have any ideas??

    • If you all use the same language for example Here chick chick chick!!! and speed of voice they will respond to anybody. Mine can just see people and run to them! You dont even have to say anything. I can call the dog and the chickens run to me. Once they know you and that you have food in your hand they come. I think the key is to for a month or two every single time you go outside have a cracker or some kind of treat and then it wont matter what you say they will come

  47. Chickens are so much fun. I have Six hens and one rooster. When I call my hens Mr roo comes to help me gather up the girls, stays by my side until all are in the hen house. So fun to watch.

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