How to Hold Chickens Properly

You may have some chickens that allow you to catch and hold them with no complaint. Other birds, however, may be a bit more cautious. Orpingtons, Brahmas, and a few other heavy breed chickens seem to enjoy being caught and held. Sometimes they’ll even sit quietly perched on an arm or hand, especially if they are held frequently while being softly talked to.

Unfortunately, they are the exception.  Most birds don’t like being held and furiously flap their wings and can kick, which risks an injury to the bird or to the handler. This unruly behavior can generally be avoided by using a simple technique:

  • Once you have caught the chicken, gently but firmly grab the bird with both hands –  one hand over each wing so she can’t flap her wings.
  • Manipulate the bird so she is facing the opposite direction from you.
  • Tuck her between your ribs and upper arm. This prevents flapping and helps keep the bird calm.
  • She’ll still try to kick, and this can be prevented by holding her legs between the fingers of the hand pinning her body between ribs and arm.
  • This leaves your other hand and arm free to gently pet her, or to part the downy feathers on her rear end to search for parasites, or to check the pelvis to determine when hens are about to begin to lay
picture of man holding a hen
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