Train your chickens to come when called!

One of the first things I did when I got my first flock of chickens was to train them to come when I called them. I let my chickens free range and by training the chickens, I know that I will be able to call them back to their coop whenever I want to. It's truly a useful skill for them to learn ... besides it's utterly hilarious when they all come running at once!

Train chickens to come when called

Since then I've also trained chickens to walk on a harness and leash and trained roosters to be friendly but the 'trick' they use most often is coming when I call them. In fact, they do it daily! Luckily it only takes a few minutes a day and in a week or so, you can have your chickens trained to come when you call!

As we discussed last week, chickens are about as smart as a 4 year old child. They can remember things and recognize objects which are exactly the skills they need to train them to come when called! They also understand the reward system, so they can grasp the idea of doing a certain action to receive a treat.

There are several reasons why you might need to call your chickens to come back when they're free ranging:
  • If you have to leave and you want to get the flock locked up before you go. 
  • To keep the chickens away from predators.
  • When the weather turns bad.
  • If you're not quite sure where the chickens have gotten to and want to find them.

Train chickens to come when called

The only 2 things you need to train your chickens to come when called: treats and a way to call them.
  • I used scratch to train my first flock of chickens, though you can use any type of treat that your flock really likes. As long as it's something that you can toss or scatter around like seeds, meal worms or even torn up pieces of bread. Something in small pieces is best so that everybody gets some.
  • I've heard of people using bells, clickers or other noise making devices to call their chickens. If you want to use something like that it's up to you, I prefer to just use my voice to call them. It really doesn't matter what you use to call them as long as you use the same thing every single time. In my case I just holler "chick chick chick" in a sorta high pitched voice.

When training my flock I started with a twice a day schedule, once in the afternoon and again at dusk. In the afternoon I go out to where the chickens are free ranging and take the treat jar with me (old coffee can) I would call them "chick, chick, chick" while scattering the treats around. This is important because they need to see the treats to get the idea at first. 

I do this again in the evening. This time I go down to their coop with the treat jar and scatter the treats in front of and just inside their coop while calling them the same way as earlier. Usually they're hanging out closer to the coop in the evening so they see the treats, hear me call and come running. 

By throwing some treats into the coop, they naturally go in to gobble them up and I can close the coop doors for the night! This also helps to train the chickens to go into the coop at night if they haven't grasped that concept yet.

I do this every single day in the exact same way until they get the idea. It usually only takes a week or so. Currently my chickens are trained to the point that they will come running no matter where they are, every time I call. In the video below I just walked out the door and called them and they come from various parts of the yard and woods. (then run faster when I start throwing the treats of course! lol)

The good news is that unless you get a whole new flock, you'll probably never have to train your chickens again! As long as you continue to use the call with the treats, the old chickens will teach it to the new chickens and mama hens will teach it to their babies and you'll always be able to call them home!

Related reading: How to raise friendly chickens.

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  1. I'll remember these tips when one day we have chickens again. Consistency is the key!

  2. Thank you for this info! I am a new Chicken owner and I have been worried about free-ranging and how I would get them back to their coop when needed. I will defiantly have to try this!

    1. Congrats on your new flock! Just be consistent and they will learn when you call to come running for treats!