Are you new to the poultry world and need guidance on how to train chickens effectively? Or are you someone who only wants to explore new and fun tricks for your cocks? Whatever your situation may be, keep on reading!
This post consists of two essential parts. First, the basic training your chickens will need to survive daily. Second, the challenging tricks you can also train them with.
A frequently asked questions part is also at the end to answer some mind-boggling questions.
Survival tricks (basic training)
Being a poultry farmer is often misunderstood. It is viewed as a challenging task, which often scares who want to try it. Well, who else wouldn’t think that way if maintaining safe, healthy, and cheery chickens alone is already a struggle?
Do not be afraid because this blog part will help you and your chickens survive! Train them with the tricks here, and your tasks will become easier.
How to train chickens to come when called?
Step 1: Develop a bridge noise
A bridge noise is what your chicken will remember. It is like a sound that will connect them to you. So, it is best to create something they will remember quickly, one which is not a typical sound in the area.
Step 2: Associate the bridge noise with the treats
For the first couple of weeks, always associate the sound with treats. If you make the bridge noise, be sure that treats are present too. The chickens will remember the sound better.
Do this step until all the chickens are already familiar with the sound.
Step 3: Bridge noise but no treats
Start making the bridge noise but do not give them immediate treats. However, make the changes gradually so the chickens can adjust too.
Again, the purpose is to familiarize the chicken with the bridge noise. You’ll know it is effective if the cocks form a herd even without the treats.
Step 4: Practice in the free range
Free-range the chickens if you think they adapted well to the sound. This is a vital step in knowing if you need to allot more time to train them or not.
Let them roam for a while, and call them using the bridge noise. If the chickens responded well, then you did a good job!
How to teach chickens to lay eggs in a nest?
Step 1: Prepare the nests in a safe place
Hens don’t just lay eggs everywhere. Although they do this in different areas of the coop, they always ensure it is a safe spot.
For that reason, the key to making the chickens lay in egg nests is ensuring their eggs are safe. The nests could be scattered or placed in one spot. Just make sure it is far from any hazards.
Step 2: Use fake eggs
When you are already decided where to place the nests, put some fake eggs on them. This will make the hens even more sure that the spot is safe. It will lure the chickens, so let the artificial eggs stay in the nest.
A fake egg could be a golf ball because it resembles a freshly laid white egg. It could also be a wooden egg since it is more durable– it will not break even if broody hens peck it.
Artificial wooden eggs are more favorable for poultry farmers.
Step 3: Block unnecessary egg-laying spot
You placed a nest for a reason. Blocking the areas where the hens typically lay their eggs will help them recognize the nest more.
Do this for no less than two weeks and witness how changes will happen.
Step 4: Collect the real eggs
Collect the real eggs regularly. The only eggs that will stay in the nest are the fake ones.
Always check the coop, too. Make sure no eggs are laying someplace else so that the hens will not get confused.
Here is an informational clip about chickens laying eggs in nests:
How to target train a chicken?
Step 1: Introduce the target trainer
First, you have to introduce the target trainer or target stick to your chicken. You can buy this tool, or you can make it yourself.
One trick to introduce a target stick to your cock is by putting it near the treats. This way, the chickens will see it as associated with their food.
Another is by sticking a treat into it. Use tape to attach the treat. The chicken will peck at it and become familiar with its color and design.
Step 2: Point and place the target trainer in different spots
If the chicken is already familiar with the target stick, you can now train them to find and follow the stick. If your step 1 is successful, then this step shall be easy too.
Once the chicken sees the stick, it will come for it. Do this continuously.
Step 3: Try leading the chicken using the target trainer
Another activity you can do is lead the chickens around the coop or at a particular spot using the stick. The training is going well if the cock is following the target trainer.
Note: Target training for chickens is a vital skill that will lead to more challenging tricks, like the ones in the next part of this blog!
Fun tricks (proficient training)
Poultry farmers who are done with training their chickens with the basic tricks can now follow a much more challenging training routine.
Challenging tricks make the poultry farming experience more enjoyable. These may even be used for many reasons and occasions too. Also, you can even make a profit from it.
However, you will also need more practice and patience to train your chickens with these tricks. You may add your own strategy also to make the training effective and efficient.
How to train chickens to run an obstacle course?
Method 1: One-by-one trick training
Since running an obstacle course is challenging, one technique you can use is to teach the tricks one by one. This way, the chicken will learn how to do each trick.
Some tricks you can teach them are going through a tunnel, jumping, circling, using a teeter-totter, and climbing stairs. If you manage to train them with each trick, you can now put it all together in an obstacle course and practice the chicken.
Method 2: Whole obstacle course training
This method seems to be an efficient way to train the chicken. All you need to do is teach the whole course as is.
However, this may not be suitable if you plan to make more obstacle courses with various tricks. Since you have to train the cock again from the beginning of the course to the end.
The method you will use won’t be a problem; just ensure you will give them treats as rewards.
To give you inspiration, here is a video of a chicken running an obstacle course:
How to train chickens to go through a hoop?
Step 1: Make the chicken comfortable
Ensure that the chicken is comfortable with the hoop. Do not start the training with the hoop too far or too near. Enough distance is necessary.
The hoop should touch the ground at first so that the chicken can start from walking into the hoop to jumping.
Remember to take things slowly.
Step 2: Use a treat and a target trainer
The basic training about target training your cock is helpful at this step. Use a treat for a reward, or you can have the chicken peck on your hand.
One way or another, all you have to do is lead the chicken toward the hoop!
Step 3: Change the intensity of the trick
Once the cock has mastered the basic walking toward the hoop trick, it’s now time to make some changes to the level of intensity of the training.
Adjust the hoop height so the chicken can jump through it. You can also lessen the treat rewards.
The chicken should be able to adjust to these changes. If not, go back to the basics and do not rush the chicken.
How to train chickens to play instruments?
Step 1: Pick the musically inclined chicken
The hard truth in this step is that not all chickens can play an instrument beautifully. That’s why you really have to be observant.
A cock that pecks hard will always be a great choice to train for a keyboard or xylophone.
Step 2: Place the treats on keys
This is a complex task if you don’t know the notes. So, make sure to practice too.
Place the treats on the required keys. But, just do it little by little. This step requires patience from you because the chicken might have a hard time remembering each key.
Do not practice all the keys at once.
Step 3: Practice more keys
As we said, do not teach all the keys at once, they won’t remember it all! Take things easy and if you think that they already master the previous keys, add another set for them to practice.
Step 4: Play without treats
To test the newly instilled skill of your chicken, let them play the instrument without the treat or guide. Also, practice the chickens regularly.
Here is a video of a chicken playing piano:
Note: These steps are just applicable for instruments that can be pecked.
Frequently asked questions
How easy is it to train a chicken?
It may not seem like it initially, but chickens are easier to train than other animals. Plus, benefits like making fun and profit come when you train a cock.
A technique called clicker training is often used when training a chicken. It is an effective method that all poultry farmers are free to use.
What do I need to train my chicken?
Generally, what you really need is the treats. Without these, it is impossible to lead the chicken. It is also a reward, so ensure you have enough during training.
Although these are not tangible things, we still like to remind you that never-ending patience and consistency are needed. Training chickens is easy, but only if you have consistent patience.
The list of tricks you can train your chicken with is unending and should not be confined to the ones in this list. But rest assured that the tricks we included here are helpful for their survival and yours as a poultry farmer. The fun tricks also make yard work a little less hectic and stressful.
Let us conclude this post about how to train chickens by saying, “enjoy the training process!”.
Joseph Hudson has been raising chickens for over 15 years. In 2018, he completed the Agriculture & Natural Resources program at Mt. San Antonio College. He currently raises over 1400 chickens on his 7.5-hectare farm. He keeps sharing his experience on raising healthy and happy chickens on Chicken Scratch.