Chickens are fairly intelligent creatures and training them isn’t as difficult as it may seem.
They are capable of picking up cues faster than some animals and, as such, can be trained to do a number of things, including perching in a particular spot, nesting in a place, and coming when you call.
Training your chickens can be a simple and straightforward process, and in this article, we’ll explore one of the basic things you can train your chickens to do, which is to come when you call.
So, if you want to know how to get your chickens to respond when you call, keep reading!
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How Intelligent Is the Domestic Chicken?
According to experienced bird owners, chickens are as smart as the average four-year-old human… that’s pretty smart, in my opinion.
It may come across as a little over the top, but you only have to try training them to know it’s not.
While they are certainly not as intelligent as animals like dogs, cats, and horses, chickens have impressive cognitive abilities.
Their level of cognitive function puts them among easily trainable animals.
They are capable of performing complex cognitive activities that some little children are incapable of.
They can also learn from past experiences and are adept at facial and sound recognition.
Is Training My Chickens Important?
It is very important to train your chicken.
Training your chickens can be a rewarding experience for you and your birds.
The advantages of training your chickens include:
Chickens are capable of forming strong bonds both with their owners and flock mates.
Spending time with them during training and even calling them by name can strengthen the bond between you and your birds and create a more meaningful relationship with them.
The importance of a strong recall cannot be overemphasized across species.
Not only does it guarantee the safety of your birds, but it also reduces the likelihood of your birds damaging objects or harming people in their vicinity.
Frankly, it can be difficult to catch or corral chickens that are scattered across the yard.
What to Do Before Training Your Chickens?
While it is possible to dive right into training chickens, it’s a lot easier and more rewarding to get some basics right.
If you do these things right, training your chickens will be a piece of cake.
• Build a Solid Relationship With Your Chickens
For every species, trust is a core factor of productive relationships.
Spending quality time with them and speaking to them often can help them get accustomed to your presence and trust you enough to flock around you.
• Learn About Chicken Behavior
Understanding your flock’s natural behaviors, instincts, and tendencies will help you train them effectively.
You can read through trusted available online content to get a basic understanding of chicken behaviors.
• Gather Training Supplies
You’re definitely going to need more than your voice to train chickens, so gathering the things you might need, like a whistle, treats, etc., beforehand can make your training period hassle-free.
9 Tips to Train Chickens to Come When Called
Tip #1: Start With a Small Group
Starting with a small group can allow you to focus on each bird at a time and ensure that they are responding to your prompts.
It can quickly get tiring if you start out with a large flock with no way to control each of them.
Tip #2: Train in a Quiet, Enclosed Space
Distractions can make training your chickens 10 times harder. So, you want to ensure that the area you’re working in is quiet, with no distractions.
You can make a temporary enclosure like a fenced area in your backyard with boxes.
Allow them to get used to the enclosure before you start training them. That way, they’re not trying to jump out of the space during training.
Once you’re confident they have understood the prompts, you can move on to a more open space.
Tip #3: Choose a Simple Command
To effectively train your chickens to come when called, you need to use a simple command they can easily catch on to.
Tip #4: Practice a Reward System
Using treats as positive reinforcement can be pivotal to their responsiveness.
You can use treats they enjoy, like mealworms, bugs, fresh veggies, fruits, etc., to keep them responsive.
You can also give rubs and hugs if your birds love them.
Tip #5: Train Them at the Same Time Every day
Also, you can train them in the mornings or evenings when temperatures are cooler to prevent burnout from extreme temperatures in the afternoons.
Tip #6: Use a Strong Call
One of the most important things in training chickens is for them to be able to recognize what the “call” is.
You can use words, a whistle, a jingle, or repeated taps that are clear and loud enough for your birds.
You can also train them to associate the call with treats, which is far more effective.
Tip #7: Use a Lead Chicken
Chickens are social creatures and are very big on hierarchy.
Once the lead chicken responds to your prompts, other birds in the flock are more likely to respond as well.
Tip #8: Keep Training Sessions Short and Consistent
Consistency is KING!
It will take time for the birds to learn new patterns and respond appropriately, so you must exercise patience.
Also, keep the training sessions short to prevent wearing them out.
Additionally, be patient. Keep your tone level and upbeat.
Tip #9: Gradually Increase the Distance
Once you’re certain that your birds have caught on to the prompts or commands, you can gradually increase the distance between you and them for them to get accustomed to receiving instructions from a distance.
You can also introduce minor distractions to train them to respond to your call amid distractions.
How to Train Multiple Flocks Together?
The need may arise to train a newly introduced flock differently from the existing flock.
This is to prevent the older flock from taking up all the treats and to establish order within the flock.
To do this, you need to:
• Foster Familiarity
First, ensure that the old and new flocks are familiar with one another.
Introducing the new flock to the existing flock can foster familiarity and acceptance, but it should be closely monitored.
There may be cases of bullying, and in such cases, separate the old from the new.
• Use Different Commands for the Different Flocks
This is very vital to maintain order. It’ll take time to train the new flock, and though they might pick up cues while watching how the older flock relates with you, it’ll take time for them to get up to speed.
Use a different command or prompt for the new flock in such cases.
If this isn’t done, the older flock can take up all the treats or space in the coop, leaving the new ones with nothing to get.
The different prompts ensure that only birds trained with each specific prompt respond to them, and it helps to maintain order in the flock.
Training your chickens can be a fun and rewarding experience that can improve their safety, health, productivity, and well-being, as well as deepen your relationship with them.
To successfully train them to come when called, ensure that you:
—Start with a small group.
—Train in a quiet, enclosed space.
—Choose a simple command.
—Practice a reward system.
—Train them at the same time every day.
—Use a strong call.
—Use a lead chicken.
—Keep training sessions short and consistent.
—Gradually increase the distance.
You must be able to work with their natural tendencies and limitations if you’re going to successfully train your chickens to come when you call.
Repeat the instructions, use positive reinforcement, and avoid meting out punishments.
You will have your chickens responding to your call in no time!