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Chicken Training 101

May 29, 2013

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Raising chickens has become a major trend with even some urban dwellers getting in on the action. But have you thought about training your chicken? It turns out these feathered fowl are easier to train than dogs. Here’s a step-by-step guide from The Old Farmer’s Almanac for Kids, Volume 4 for how to train your chicken!

You will need:

  • A hungry chicken
  • Food that the chicken loves but does not get often (tiny bits of hot dog work well)
  • A small cup or container

First, see if your chicken is hungry. Put some food in the cup or your hand and hold it next to your chicken. If it eats immediately, it is hungry.

STEP 1

  • Stand an arm’s length away from your chicken.
  • Hold the food behind your back.
  • Say your chicken’s name.
  • Within 1 second, give it food. Allow it one or two pecks at the food.

Do this twice a day for 3 days, once in the morning and once in the afternoon, in three 5-minute sessions with 5-minute breaks in between.

STEP 2

  • Stand about an arm’s length away from your chicken.
  • Hold the food behind your back. When your chicken is looking away from you, say its name.
  • Give it food immediately.

It will start to associate its name with food and look toward you and the food whenever you say its name.

STEP 3

  • Stand several feet away from your chicken.
  • Call your chicken’s name and offer it the food at the same time.

It should run right over.

Once your chicken masters Steps 1, 2, and 3, add distractions to test it. Practice in a new location or scatter its regular food on the ground when it knows that you have treats.

If you call it and it ignores you, it’s not hungry or is confused by the distraction. Do not keep calling it, or it will learn to ignore you. Instead, decrease the distraction and try again when it is hungry. 

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Ginger Vaughan has worked for The Old Farmer's Almanac for over a decade and, every spring, thinks about starting a garden. When she isn't enjoying the outdoors (and pondering just where to plant that garden), she can often be found in the kitchen testing out new recipes. She lives in a Pacific Northwest forest on the Puget Sound with Thor and Olive, two English bulldogs who would like to taste test her cooking creations far more often than they are allowed. 

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