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How To Train Your Chickens

Have you ever wondered if you can train your chickens? Can they learn tricks or to come when called? With the right motivation and time and patience on your part, you can train chickens!

When I published the article The Truth About Chickens’ Pecking Order I received a thoughtful response from a reader:

Hi.

I just read the article about chickens, I just wanted to share the wonderful news that we CAN change a chicken’s behavior, and I wanted to share that with you so you can pass along the information to your many followers.

All the new science regarding learning theory and how to engage our multi species friends has been enlightening and amazing, giving us full permission to be kind in the name of science, learning and behavior modification – it is so wonderful.

I do hope you will enjoy the information and try it out with your flock =)

A Farming My Backyard Reader

And this is a great topic for those of us that would like to do more with our flocks and keep them more as pets than livestock. Any time you capitalize on natural behaviors with positive reinforcement it can be very rewarding for both you and the animal you are training.

My chickens are trained to come when I call them, because they know good food will be following. But you can train your birds to do even more if you would like.

You Can Clicker Train Your Chickens

Clicker training reinforces good behavior. You train the animal to associate the sounds of the click with a reward such as food. You can purchase a clicker specifically for that purpose or you can use a word or sound you make yourself.

When you first start out you give the click and immediately follow with a treat. Eventually you can use the click alone as a reward with treats some of the time. You can train poultry to do simple tasks like ring a bell, complete an obstacle course, or play xylophone.

To help a chicken associate the click with food, you need to click and immediately follow with the treat at the beginning. They can do many short training sessions in a day. Once they associate the click with a treat you can start having them peck colors or shapes with a treat attached.

You can also reinforce their natural behavior such as returning to the coop and coming when called. Many chicken owners naturally do this with a particular call they make when heading into the chicken yard with food or treats.

Chickens are fun and interesting pets and they can do much more than we sometimes assume. Have some fun teaching your birds some basic tricks!

Sources:
https://www.hobbyfarms.com/chicken-training-positive/
https://modernfarmer.com/2013/12/chickens-train-humans-train-dogs/
https://www.mdpi.com/2076-2615/5/3/386/htm
https://drsophiayin.com/blog/entry/chicken_training/
https://www.rootsimple.com/2012/07/clicker-training-chickens/
https://www.communitychickens.com/clicker-training-for-chickens/

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Laurie H

Sunday 19th of September 2021

Just to note, the so-called "new science of learning and behavior" is not new. It's been around for decades, since at least the 1930s. :)

Kathryn

Thursday 23rd of September 2021

For sure! Modern day clicker training is definitely behaviorism!