Chicken Whispering – Patricia Foreman










Great Big Ideas & Takeaways:

  • Chicken whispering 101: get inside the head of your chickens.
  • Learn to “think chicken” to develop trust & emotional bonds.
  • How to correctly pick up a chicken—so they feel safe and comfortable.
  • Training your chickens… as pets, therapy birds, and more.
  • How to gently calm an agitated chicken.
  • Recognizing hens that are ready to produce.
  • Safely transporting chickens in a carrier: how to get them inside.
  • 12 sources of flock stress—audit your chicken coop!

About The Speaker:

Patricia Foreman is a sustainable agricultural author, local foods activist, and popular speaker.

She, and her co-presenter, chicken celebrity Oprah Hen-Free, have presented workshops at major festivals and conferences across the US, including Mother Earth Fairs, Monticello’s Heritage Harvest Festivals, Nourishing Traditions, and many others.

For over 4 years, Pat was the co-host of the daily Chicken Whisperer Talk Show. She is often interviewed on radio and TV shows, including NPR and CBS.

She has kept poultry for over 25 years, and has experience ranging from backyard flocks to owning and operating a small-scale farm with free range, organic layers, broilers and turkeys. The commercial operation included keeping breeder flocks, incubating eggs, pasturing poultry and finished processing.

She is the author of City Chicks, co-author of Chicken Tractor, Day Range Poultry, Backyard Market Gardening and A Tiny Home to Call Your Own.

Pat is also the developer of the Chickens and You Training Series leading to the Master Backyard Chicken Keeper Certification.


QUESTION: Do you have any chicken whispering secrets of your own that you’d like to share?


  1. Wanda Carlton

    I learned so much. Thank you.

  2. Christina T

    Thank you for your presentation. I would like to share as a new chicken farmer- choose your breeds wisely because they are all so very different. I expanded too quickly and now am working backwards at fixing things. I do have to say that i put my pumpkin patch this year where my chickens were last year and the production on barren land was amazing!

    1. Marjory WIldcraft

      Hi Christina, yes the power of chicken poop is amazing huh?

  3. Amanda Furbeck

    This video is so helpful! Thank you!

  4. Laura Emerson

    I have enjoyed raising chickens for the past four years far more than I ever imagined. So I particularly loved your delightful anecdotes about Miss Nellie and the service chickens for the elderly.

    My only contribution is that one year, when we had a surfeit of rabbits, we housed some with our chickens and ducks. One ran off and settled beneath the other rabbits’ hutches, but one preferred to live with the birds, and actually hung out with them, during the day, and returned to the coop at night.

    1. Marjory WIldcraft

      Hi Laura,

      Yes I love those stories of how different species befriend each other.

  5. Trish

    Great Presentation Love the idea of visiting chickens. Thank you for the suggestion.

  6. Cyndi

    Thanks for an excellent program. I attended your’s and Harvey’s programs at ME Fair in 7 Springs maybe 4 years ago and thanks to great info and your books, have had chickens for 3.5 years. Will never be able to go back to store eggs.

    Question about the Chicken Underground. Is it only in Augusta Co. and is it still operating? I’m in Shenandoah Co. and have friends here and in co.s closer to “the big city” who may be interested in being chicken rebels.

    Thanks again

  7. Carolyn

    Thank You for a great program, I have several of your books and love them, My hens will be here on Dec. 3, and I am so excited, I feel like I have learned so much from all the presenters of this summit!

  8. Kerry

    Would have enjoyed more practical info and fewer anecdotes and jokes–but it was fine. The helpful parts were very helpful.

  9. Marcia

    A fabulous presentation. Thank you for all the fascinating information! Your enthusiasm is contagious.

  10. Suzanne McGill

    Wonderful presentation. Heaps of great info
    Many thanks

  11. Birgitte

    Thank you for your knowledge! My family and I have a flock of Rhode Island Reds and I couldn’t imagine life without them! I never thought I would become attached to chickens! We lost one of our flock a year ago, still have no idea what happened to her, and we were so heartbroken over it! I still am, a year later! But, their characteristics, they are so so funny and entertaining!

    I also love hearing what you are doing in Virginia! Virginia is my home state, I miss it terribly and was happy to hear what you were doing in the areas that I frequented often when I lived there.

  12. JOAN

    I truly enjoyed and learned a lot from your presentation even though I have had chickens, ducks, & geese for the past 3 years. Thank you!

  13. Michael Aust

    Great presentation. Thank you for sharing!

  14. Inge Leonora-den Ouden

    Great! Just what I need. I would have given this 6 stars if possible!

  15. Wendy

    So much information! The jokes CRACKED me up!

  16. Wendy

    Thank you. So much information! The jokes CRACKED me up!

  17. Martha

    I found out I had been carrying my birds wrong.

  18. Lee

    Awesome presentation! Love the chickens and what you stand for

  19. zora ignjatovic

    going forward learning from the past. my grandmother was a chicken producer in 60.iest in Yugoslavia. Everybody wanted the job and salary. I grow up with 50-120 chickens. she was sustainable and relied on herself and her work.she designed the incubator( invited the woodworker and the electrician and told them how to make it). yes, she was so wright. nobody around her ever went hungry. it was at the edge of guerrilla activities and not supported by the government. she did it anyway. she was grandmother is my biggest inspiration and teacher. she lived with integrity. thanks for this work. Toronto is still resisting people’s requests. people are raising them but if someone complain they might face charges and confiscation..let’s demand the right to grow our own food.

  20. Valerie

    Great presentation! Lots & lots of information. I could listen to Pat all day! Thank you for the idea of “a chicken sitter” as I know someone who lives in a small town that wants her own eggs & loves my birds but they frown on chickens in “their” town, haha! Maybe we’ll give the chicken underground idea to a test 😉

  21. colleen

    Because I live in town I wasn’t interested in listening to a talk on chickens but since I had to clean the computer room I listened anyway. To my surprise I thoroughly enjoyed every word of this professional, informative, well done exceptional presentation. It tempts me to run out and buy some chicks.

  22. Amanda Marshall

    Loved this presentation, especially the part about how to hold and build trust, I was teaching mine to jump whilst listening to the rest. Love the underground idea!

  23. tuffy

    best way to hold chickens for a wing clip?

  24. allana

    Maybe I missed it, but what dogs were good for guarding my chickens?

    1. Tom D.

      Any big non-nervous breed like Labs, Great Pyrenees, Retrievers.

  25. Debbie B.

    Am confused: she said that Heritage guinea hens not as aggressive to other birds, but then says to consider the Hybrids? Could we get a Clarification

    1. Birgitte

      I understood this to mean that the hybrids are great to consider as guard birds since they are more aggressive than the heritage. My mom had guinea foul, they are definitely great guard birds! And they eat tics, so so many tics!

  26. Jean-Guy

    Very informative …. we had hundreds of different chickens and hens when i was growing up … Now, I built my own coop and planning for a small flock in 2017 … TY

  27. wendy

    Best of the series. I hear so much nonsense spread about keeping chickens on Youtube, It’s nice to hear someone who actually knows what she’s talking about. I’ve kept chickens for years, but it was good to hear about things, like food security, to remind me of why I started in the first place.

  28. Sandy

    Fabulous!!! Thank you for the presentation

  29. Cab

    This was one of my favorite — if not THE favorite so far. Thank you. This whole summit is fabulous! This made me cry.

  30. Eva

    Thank you for the presentation. I loved it. I have intentions to get chickens to help with my organic gardening practices. Thanks again.

  31. Onecia

    Really nice presentation. Loved the humor and the information. Especially appreciated the part about training the dog and being quiet around the chickens.

  32. Hyacinth Janecyk

    Can’t get this video to run on my computer – add for Wisteria runs fine?

  33. Marilyn Blessum

    I have seen dogs and cats taken to nursing homes and the effect is wonderful. Never thought of chickens as therapy animals, but the right ones certainly could be. We had one chicken when I was growing up, and if you sat on the back steps she would get in your lap, get herself comfortable, and preen her feathers. What a little darling! We have had chickens here for nearly 10 years. What endless entertainment they provide besides those great, fresh, orange-yolked country eggs!

  34. Donna Nielsen

    Loved the presentation.

    My copy of Chicken Tractor is getting dog-eared, I read it so often. We’ve been building and using chicken tractors off and on, for small flocks since 1999 (when we lived where we had land and could do it). Currently we have 8 hens that spend their summers in a chicken tractor with attached covered run, to protect them from the egg-stealing ravens. The girls spend the winters in a henhouse for protection from below zero F. nights. They don’t seem to have any problem being outside in the daytime, as long as they have some straw or other bedding on top of the snow.

  35. Jean

    I have explained to belligerent animals that stewing is an option and they choose. A few have chosen “freezer camp” but most seem to understand and correct their ways!
    As far as cooking a non-productive hen, I never did. Most of my hens lasted 5 or more years at good production rates and often became good broody hens in their later years.

  36. Jan

    Great info! I started 34 years ago with an only-child Barred Rock chick rooster who fell out of a nest in the rafters in a haymow. His mama was a run-a-way hen from my husband’s elderly aunt’s flock. My husband brought a 1 or 2-day old fuzzy handful home to me that I raised in a box in our kitchen until he was big enough to be outside during the day. I taught him to play our son’s tiny toy piano keyboard for a treat. From that day on I was hooked. What fun our children had in his raising. I gently sing to my flock so as not to startle them when I let them out in the mornings.

  37. Yolanda

    Found this very informative and even busted out loud with laughter! Thank you so much, Patricia.

  38. Barbara Murphy

    Excellent information and encouragement! Many folks in our rural and suburban areas have a few chickens around and some are even selling eggs and meat locally. I hope to start my own small family flock in 2017. Thanks for sharing!

  39. Terry Babb

    I Loved your presentation! I read the book about an EMP that killed a lot of folks. I thought, what, folks don’t have chickens? They can live off the land and those Chickens breed like cockroaches. No mention of chickens in the Book. My LPD (Livestock Protection Dogs) That protect my goats and chickens love eggs and the goat milk. You are so AWESOME!

    I raise Production Nigerian Dwarf Goats, but know if things change, who could produce without the fancy feed and forage off the land. Most would do well. Maybe not be National Top Ten Producers, but would adapt and still produce lots of milk and butter fat.

  40. Jean

    At the first, I thought this was going to be mostly downy fluff sweetness but now have a grin on my face realizing I’m in the presence of another “radical fanatic” change agent 🙂 Yes, we do want to and can make the existing model obsolete! Subversion here we come!
    Radical: Pertaining to the root or origin; original; fundamental; as a radical truth.
    Fanatic: literally, seeing visions.

  41. robin

    Thanks for the great presentation! I would just like to mention that although they have some downsides compared to chickens Ducks are another great option for people who want food, fertilizer and friendship in a city. They also do some things better than chickens and dang their eggs are good!

  42. Mike Eaton

    Brilliant, well presented, thank you so very much! OK it is of course for primarily American Audiences but chickens are world wide, they have more sense that humans in some ways! A Flock is after all just a family – who needs anything else?

  43. Mary

    My very very small Texas town has an ordinance against farm animals in the city. A few people kept small coups with hens successfully– until a neighbor had a good sized flock in his back yard, wing feathers not clipped, and they escaped and ran the neighborhood. Needless to say the City had everyone get rid of their chickens.
    I hope to approach the city council next year to allow us to keep up to 4 hens in an appropriate sized coop and run. I will also suggest potential chick parents take a short chicken class and encourage our animal control person to verify that the chick homes are an appropriate size for their health and safety.

    I am hoping giving the City Council a bit of safeguards in this respect will give them the confidence that they will be safe above mentioned chicken invasions.
    Any info you could provide me to accomplish this would be great.
    Thank you.

  44. Leza

    Lovelovelove! Always enjoy your talks! 🙂 I am a chicken sitter, and would love my own flock. (I had a pet duck growing up in a small town, but had to re-home it because of the town’s ordinances… .) Unfortunately, we have several fox families all around us…, and they would love them, too… . We’re on an acre out in the country, and can’t have chickens unless we’re on *2* acres… . This also is like the milk industry here in Wisconsin not wanting to allow raw milk to be legal…, so they say it’s “dangerous” not being pasteurized even though a large population of Wisconsinites were raised on raw milk.

    1. Leza

      (I had a pet duck in a small town in *NJ*.)

  45. Debra

    My favorite slide presentation of the webinar so far. I can’t raise chickens at the moment, but I’m doing homework and researching everything I can so that I’m ready when the time is right. THANK YOU PAT for a wonderful presentation and gentle pats for Oprah Henfree.

  46. Tracey Long

    Thank you so much for your information and passion! I have had chickens for many years and learned a lot from you!

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