Trying to get chickens to go somewhere else can be a logistical nightmare, especially if they’re out in a large space and you have a number of chickens. But it doesn’t have to be!
In this article, I’m going to show you some tactics which we’ve found work well when trying to get chickens to follow you back to the coop, out of danger or out of somewhere they just shouldn’t be.
In short, the best way to get chickens to follow you is by using the ‘call and treat’ process, where you teach chickens to come when they hear a specific call or whistle. Once the chickens get used to the call and know they will be treated if they come to you, they are much easier to control.
Read on to find out exactly how to do this and learn how you can gain control of your flock and to get them to follow you when you need them to.
I want to add a bit of a disclaimer here because there is always that one chicken who does the opposite of what you want and also you might find that your chickens follow you absolutely everywhere!
Why is it good to be able to get chickens to follow or come to you?
If your chickens are allowed to wander, it’s just good to know that if you need them to be somewhere else you can herding them up if you need to.
We have grazing rights on common land where our chickens can go free-range, sometimes they go further than we’d like and this is the reason we teach them to come to call.
Getting chickens to come to call can really help when it comes to the following situations:
- Getting the chickens back to the coop before it goes dark if they’re free-range.
- keeping them away from any dangerous situations such as predators or adverse weather conditions.
- Bringing them out of areas they shouldn’t be such as a neighbours garden.
How to get started
We have found the best way to teach chickens to come to call is by using a specific whistle as soon as we get any new chickens and every time we interact with them and particularly at feeding time.
This way the chickens get used to associating the call with being fed and will come running when they hear the call or even when they just see you.
You can use any call you like, whether its a whistle or a repetitive sound such as ‘chuck chuck’ (don’t worry about what the neighbours think, it will be worth it).
Reward the chickens with a small treat when they return, because just like puppy training, they will know they get something each time they come back.
This process should work with most chickens unless they are particularly strong-willed or a bit of a loner. Chickens tend to do things as a group so once one goes there’s more chance they’ll all follow. How much a chicken will interact with you will also vary from breed to breed.
If you keep hens from a young age, they’re very easy to train, but we’ve found that it even works with new (but older in age) ex-battery hens.
Let your chickens get used to you
As well as getting your chickens to come to you using the ‘call and treat’ process, it will also help if your chickens get to know and trust you too.
Doing things like spending time around the coop when you first get some new chickens will help to form more trust as they get to know you.
It also helps if you stay calm around the chickens and don’t make any sudden movements which will cause them to become jumpy or flighty.
For more information on this topic, you might find the following article helpful:
This article was first published on October 9, 2020 by Pentagon-Pets.
Chicken treats to use as a reward for coming back
What you treat your chickens with is up to you, a handful of their usual food or seed works well, or you could give them something more exciting such as fresh fruit or veg, some of their favourites include:
In the winter months when the ground is wet and muddy it’s a good idea to hang vegetable from a string or chain for the chickens to peck at without the food getting dirty.
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I hope this post will help you to get your chickens to follow you back to the coop when you need them to. You might also find the following post helpful:
Pentagon Pet is the owner of this article that was first published on October 9, 2020.
Our recommended coop
Chicken coop for different flock sizes and different weather.
This article and its contents are owned by Pentagon Pets and was first published on October 9, 2020.