Like many pets, your backyard flock of chickens can learn basic tricks and commands. Training your chickens can be both fun and useful. Maybe you want to teach your hens how to run through obstacle courses or behave well during shows and competitions. Perhaps you simply want your chickens to come when you call so you can safely move them across the yard or back into their coop. No matter your reasons, there are a few steps you need to know to make your lessons a success. Here are three top tips for training your backyard chickens.
Chicks and chickens work best in familiar settings. Before you begin training, make sure your flock is comfortable with your presence. This is particularly important for younger birds that might not be used to you yet. Chicks and chickens that are afraid or uncertain around you won’t trust you enough to learn your commands. In addition to making your birds familiar with your presence, it also helps to establish a routine. Chickens enjoy having a set schedule. Opening and closing the coop or filling feeders at the same time every day will establish a routine your chickens can learn and feel comfortable with.
USE FOOD AS A REWARD
Your chickens need the right motivation to listen and perform for you. Treats are the perfect way to capture your birds’ attention and convince them to learn. Try to use special foods to make the reward even more worthwhile. Scraps of vegetables, grains, or other treats such as mealworms that differ from their regular feed can act as an excellent reward for your hens, giving them to strive for. If you’re worried about feeding your flock too much, you can also set your training time just before a meal. Your birds will know that food is coming soon, which will inspire them to work for their meal.
CREATE RECOGNIZABLE PHRASES
In addition to rewarding your hens for good behavior, you’ll want to establish good communication between you and your chickens. Like many pets, chickens can respond to short phrases, familiar sounds, and your tone of voice. Familiar affirmations are a great way to let your chicken know they did something right even before you give them a treat. You can also use sounds like whistles or clickers to help your birds associate a specific sound with their achievement. This kind of communication grant immediate positive reinforcement for your chicken, rather than making them wait until you can offer them a treat. Such a system allows for more accurate training and reinforcement of good behavior.
What tricks do you use to train your chickens? Share your expert advice with us in the comments below.