Training chickens to come when called can be a fun and practical skill for any poultry enthusiast. Whether you want to keep your flock safe, call them back to their coop, or simply enjoy the joy of seeing your feathered friends responding to your call, this training process can strengthen the bond between you and your chickens.
In this comprehensive guide, we will present two effective methods to train your chickens to come when called. Both approaches involve using positive reinforcement and building associations between a specific call and a tasty treat. With patience, consistency, and some delicious rewards, you’ll be amazed at how quickly your chickens can learn this useful behavior.
Start Training in a Protected, Fenced-In Area
Setting up a safe and enclosed area is crucial for training chickens to come when called. This allows you to have direct interaction with them and build trust, which is essential for successful training.
Decide What You Will Use for Your Call
Choosing the right call is essential to get your chickens’ attention and make them associate it with a positive outcome. It can be a word, phrase, or sound. For example, you can shake a container of sunflower seeds while calling, “Chickiedos!”
Establish a Connection Between the Call and Reward
To reinforce the desired behavior, select a tasty treat that your chickens love. Mealworms, sunflower seeds, unsalted pumpkin seeds, or cracked corn can be excellent choices. Make the call and reward the chickens that respond and come to you. Consistency is key during this step.
Lead the Flock to Their Pen
Once you have the attention of your chickens, gently lead them back to their pen or coop. Use treats to guide them along the way, rewarding them for following you. If any chickens stray, call them back and reward them again.
Repeat the Process Each Day
Consistent daily practice is essential for effective training. Repeat the training steps every day until your chickens respond promptly to your call and willingly follow you back to their pen.
Expand Their Free Range Area
After successfully training your chickens to come when called, you can expand their free-range area. Remove the temporary fence or enclosure and allow them to roam in a larger, safe area. Call them back to their pen when their free-range time is over.
Choose a Treat
Select a treat that your chickens find irresistible. Mealworms, scratch, pumpkin seeds, or sunflower seeds are popular options that can be used exclusively for training purposes.
Associate Call with Treat
Begin the training process by offering the chosen treat to the chickens inside their coop while using the designated call. Repeat this exercise daily and use the same call each time.
After about 2-3 weeks of consistent training, it’s time to test whether your chickens come when called. Call them using the designated call and observe if they respond and return to their coop for the treat. If they do, congratulations! They have successfully learned the behavior.
Follow a twice-a-day training schedule to reinforce the behavior. Go out to where the chickens are free-ranging, call them using the designated method, and scatter treats around. Repeat this in the afternoon and again at dusk. Also, in the evening, scatter treats in front of and inside their coop while calling them in the same way as before.
Consistency is key to successful chicken training. Repeat the training process daily, ensuring that you use the same call and treat. With patience and dedication, your chickens will learn to come running whenever they hear the call.
Once your chickens are trained to come when called, this behavior will persist over time. Older chickens often teach this behavior to new ones, making future training unnecessary if you maintain the same call and treat reward system.
By following these methods, you can establish a reliable recall for your chickens, allowing you to manage and interact with them effectively. Happy training!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
- What age should I start training my chickens?
It’s best to start training chickens when they are young, around 6 to 8 weeks old. At this age, they are more receptive to learning and forming new associations.
- Can I train older chickens?
Yes, you can train older chickens too. While it may take a bit more time and patience, most chickens can learn to come when called with consistent training.
- What treats should I use for training?
Choose treats that your chickens find irresistible, such as mealworms, sunflower seeds, unsalted pumpkin seeds, or cracked corn. Experiment with different treats to see what they prefer.
- How long does it take to train chickens to come when called?
Training duration can vary depending on the individual chickens and the consistency of training. In general, you may start to see positive results within a week or two, but it’s best to continue daily training for a few weeks for better reinforcement.
- Can I use different calls for different purposes?
While it’s possible to use different calls for different situations, it’s generally more effective to stick with one consistent call for coming when called. This helps the chickens associate that particular call with a reward.
- Will the trained behavior last long-term?
Yes, once your chickens are successfully trained to come when called, the behavior tends to persist over time. Additionally, older chickens often pass this behavior onto new members of the flock.
Training chickens to come when called is a rewarding experience that enhances the bond between you and your feathered friends. With the right call, tasty treats, consistency, and patience, you can successfully teach your chickens this useful behavior. Remember to start the training in a protected area and gradually expand their free-range space once they master the recall.
By understanding the training methods, addressing common questions, and incorporating positive reinforcement, you are well on your way to having a well-trained and responsive flock of chickens. Happy training and enjoy the benefits of your chickens coming home to you whenever you call!