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Chicken training at Ag in Motion: not yet

Training chickens to do tricks is probably something you’ve neglected to do

Who has been able to sleep with Ag in Motion starting this week? Western Canada’s largest outdoor farm show gets underway near Langham, Sask., about 20 minutes northwest of Saskatoon, on Tuesday, July 16, and runs until the last tire is kicked the afternoon of Thursday, July 18.

Fortunately there has been a little rain in many parts of Western Canada since late June, which may help the cause. A bit of moisture should improve the spirits of farmers, as many were facing the drought word through much of May and June. As I learned from talking to a few producers for the Farmer Panel in this issue, crops aren’t out of the woods yet. There are still several critical weeks ahead before harvest, but the moisture has meant at least many more acres have a chance, compared to how it was looking. Hopefully you got some rain and/or sunshine in your neck of the woods.

So if you need something to do for a day or two, head to Ag in Motion. Show organizers are preparing for about 500 exhibitors and are laying in enough food to keep about 35,000 visitors fueled and moving. As I have come to appreciate about the farm show if you can’t find it at Ag in Motion, you probably don’t really need it.

(Ag in Motion is sort of like a dollar store for the agriculture industry — let’s face it, it’s more like a million-dollar store for farmers. I like dollar stores. My favourite chain of dollar stores is Dollarama — neat, clean, well organized, wide aisles and thousands of products that I need. There might be the odd shelf with junk, but most of the store has stuff I need. One major appreciation I have after leaving any dollar store is thank God I don’t have to take inventory. It must take forever.)

Chicken training

So now, as I continue to plan your week, once you’re home from Ag in Motion, you’ll need to rest up with some light reading. Have you thought about chicken training?

I get quite a few notices about new books that are available and Click With Your Chick certainly caught my attention. The book is written by Giene Keyes, an animal behaviourist and 4-H leader, published by Fox Chapel Publishing, and available online through Amazon. It costs about $12.

The book is a guide to training chickens to respond to commands. “Chickens are smarter than you think,” says the book’s promo material. “Your chicken can do anything a dog can do if you train it right! Hens and roosters can be ordered go to the coop, perch on your arm, come when called, and generally respond and behave as you wish. This book presents an effective training program to get domesticated chickens to follow a variety of commands.

“Amaze your friends as your birds perform tricks like circling a cone, turning around, sitting down, and recognizing colors and patterns. Inside Click with Your Chick:

  • Understand and connect with your chickens to effectively manage your flock;
  • Clicker-train your chickens to follow fun and practical commands;
  • Discover how a chicken thinks and socializes, and how to make that knowledge work in your favour;
  • Learn how to use operant conditioning, luring, and positive training methods on hens and roosters; and,
  • Gain insight for training any animal by improving observation skills and timing.”

Who knew chickens had so much training potential? Aside from being fun, is there a practical side to this? Yes. You have a whole year to get your flock trained and next July you can amaze thousands at Ag in Motion with your chicken training demonstration. Forget gentle cattle handling, sheep dogs, and attracting calves to creep feeders, trained chickens will be the feature of the show.

The book jacket doesn’t say whether the training technique works with humans, but I suspect it is worth trying clicker training with your kids or spouse — fetch, come, stay, roll over, sit. Really, is there anything that could go wrong with that?

About the author

Field Editor

Lee Hart is editor of Cattleman’s Corner based in Calgary.

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