3 Good Reasons to Train Your Animals to Love You (If They Don’t Already!)
I always thought it’d be so great to have my animals love me. Once we actually bought our homestead I decided I wanted the opposite! I didn’t want any of my chickens or ducks or rabbits to love me because I didn’t want to get attached to them before they ended up on my dinner table. Great logic, right? Well yes…but also just so much no, definitely not. Here are three great reasons to train your animals to love you…or at least like you a little more than not. I’m in the process now, myself!
1. IDENTIFYING SICK ANIMALS
The first hiccup I had with training my animals to make sure my livestock and I stayed a comfortable distance from each other is knowing if something was wrong or not for one reason or another. Naturally, if you do what I did and you distance yourself from, say, your chickens, then you’re not going to get to know any of them. I always joked about the “crazy chicken people” who just hung out with their chooks all the time. I’m turning into one of them!
Now that I know my chickens a little better I know if something is wrong, if they’re sick, etc. I know their personalities, therefore, I know when they’re acting weird or just acting like their ole’ cluckin’ self. I’ve had the same experience with my rabbits. For example, I can usually tell if my rabbits are pregnant by the simple changes in their general manner and attitude. Thump drinks a ton more water and interacts with me much more often; Mama becomes a little bit more friendly, letting me pet her for longer amounts of time right on the top of her head in front of her ears!
2. CULLING ANIMALS
This is the exact reason I did not want to have a significant relationship with my animals and train them to love me. I didn’t want to love them too much if I was raising them for meat. Well, let me explain this scenario to you. Your chickens pretty much hate you and it’s time to cull. You must catch that chicken and you are probably not much quicker than a terrified chicken. I chased chickens and ducks all around the yard in the beginning because they didn’t want to be messed with.
If you’re chasing your animals to catch and cull them you’re probably causing them extreme stress which isn’t a great thing for your meat. You want your livestock as relaxed as possible for so many reasons (quality of meat, more humane, etc.). Not to mention that if you’re chasing after them to catch them with a net, there could be possible bruising which is never good. I learned this the hard way, so take it from me! Lesson learned.
In my opinion, this might be the most important reason to want to train my animals to like me. It’s almost humorous when my husband goes out to the hutch, hen house, or duck house because they just don’t really know him as well since I do all the daily chores. They look at him like “Who the cluck are you?”, “Quackin’, quackers” or “Thumpity thump, hop the heck away”. I want my animals to trust me and want to be able to trust my animals. I’ve been pecked by chickens far too many times because I was a stranger to them!
Recently, my rooster, Roger, started getting aggressive with me. After I hung out in or near the hen house for a little bit every day he really calmed down. It was my way to try and train him to know that I’m not a predator or enemy. I’m the one who feeds him and cleans his home and he trusts me now and I trust him, which is a really great feeling. I can even almost pick him up without him minding! I talk to them, throw them treats and remain very calm when I’m in their space. Eventually, these chickens will be dinner, but our goal here is to provide the very best quality of life for them until that sacrifice comes.