Working Poultry

Posted August 24th, 1998 — Filed in Stockmanship

Dear Elizabeth,

Bud wanted me to write and let you know that his methods DO work with poultry. It will be a little more difficult with chickens and turkeys mixed together because you will have to have the patience to “work” the flock until they all handle the same, before you can move them to where you want them to go.

They are similar to cattle that have been fed from a bucket. They want to come to you instead of quietly move away. If you use too much pressure, they spook and scatter.

The first thing you must do is move back and forth, getting closer all the time. Don’t try to go from one side of the flock to the other, maybe just cover a 3 to 6 foot area. As soon as you can get the birds you are working to step away or even just turn their head away, smoothly enlarge your area on one side, and shorten on the other side so you are working new animals. At first, the more flighty birds are very wary of what you are doing and are just looking for an excuse to run. The more gentle ones are very curious and want to come to you.

This is the training time. Since you are not doing anything to threaten them, the flighty animals will calm down. Since you aren’t doing anything very interesting, the gentle birds will stop wanting to come to you. Then you can start to watch the whole flock and move where they tell you to in order to get them to go where you want. 

Eunice