Animals of all kinds tend to bring out the best in children. When I was a horseback riding instructor in college, I loved that the most surly, uncontrollable, teenaged boys would come up to the barn, and invariably become sensitive and careful with the horses. Chickens and children are a wonderful, happy, combination. But there are a few precautions to take, especially with young chicks.
Of course, chicks are tiny and fragile, so, especially with young children, it’s important to teach them to be gentle. Here are a few tips I’ve learned over the years:
1.) Make sure that chicks’ wings are close against their body when being held, so that the wings don’t get twisted or injured.
2.) I keep a stack of old hand towels next to the chick brooder. When someone wants to hold a chick, they use it as a little play-mat for the chicken, so as not to spread chicken germs in the house. The hand cloth is also a cozy place for the chick to snuggle up and stay warm and protected. And the hand towel also saves the holder from getting pooped on.
3.) If you have very young children, put a couple chicks inside a shallow storage crate on the floor, like a playpen, for the children to watch, rather than holding them.
4.) When children are playing with chickens, pay attention to make sure that the chicks don’t get too cold.
5.) Give the chicks time to eat, drink, and warm up, before being held again.
6.) You’ll get favorites, but it’s good idea to rotate holding all the chicks. This way you won’t overtire any one chick, and they’ll all get socialized.
7.) ALWAYS make sure that anyone who was around the chicks washes their hands with soap afterwards. If children are very young, I usually put on a fresh change of clothes – just to be safe.
A sleepy chick, cuddled against your chest, is incredibly sweet. Take lots of pictures. They’ll grow out of the fluff in just a couple days. Like all our babies, they’re only little for such a short time, and it goes too fast. Enjoy your little chicks!