How To Hold a Chicken (A Look at Holding & Carrying a Hen & Other Chickens)

How Do You Pick Up and Hold a Chicken?

Keeping chickens will inevitably mean you have to pick up a chicken. It’s a matter of when, not if!

Picking up and holding a chicken may seem like a simple task, but there is a right and wrong way to do it.

Seeing how you hold a backyard chicken is easier than explaining it with words. So, in the video below, Walter from King’s Roost does a good job of showing us how easy it is to hold a chicken without scaring it:

How To Hold a Chicken Without Scaring It | King’s Roost

Is It OK To Hold Your Chickens?

Yes, it is perfectly fine to hold your chickens! In fact, it can be quite beneficial for both you and your chicken.

For one thing, holding your chicken allows you to bond with them and build trust.

Additionally, it can help to socialize them if they are not used to being around humans.

And finally, it gives you the opportunity to check them for any potential health problems.

Just be sure not to hold them too tightly and always support their legs and body.

How Do You Hold a Chicken for Treatment?

In the video below, John and Dr. Mike show us how to hold a chicken (upright and even upside down) so that it can be inspected or treated for any illness or disease.

How to Properly Hold a Chicken for Treatment | John Suscovich

Overview: How Do You Hold a Chicken Properly?

Activities that involve the handling and restraining of chickens are likely to happen during animal health emergencies. Having a basic understanding of chicken behavior and humane restraint methods will help keep the chicken safe and secure.

By holding a chicken poorly, you can stress or injure its head, neck, wings, or legs. Beaks and claws can also cause you some injuries. So follow these tips to keep your birds from panicking and getting hurt.

The method of retraining a chicken below leaves one hand free for examination.

Remain Calm

Rule #1 is to not chase your chickens around to try to catch them. Chickens are flock animals with a lot of predators. If you chase them, they will probably see you as a predator and run away from you faster than you can chase them. Plus, it gives them unnecessary stress.

Rule #2 is don’t be mean to your chicken if it does something like panic and scratch you. It’s probably very scared, and being mean to your chicken will only make it panic even more.

Do not panic if the chicken goes insane. Just hold it firmly and calm it down by using a calm, quiet voice.

If you’re afraid to hold your chicken, don’t worry. Keep calm and the chicken will eventually calm down.

Develop a Relationship

Unless it’s essential that you pick them up for something right away, try to build a relationship before you try to pick them up. Chickens need to understand you won’t harm them.

I believe that getting on your knees or sitting on the ground makes you less threatening to them. Use a soft gentle voice and move slow.

Treats are also a great way to make friends with your chickens. They may not come to your hand right away, but you can scatter some feed, or treats like chicken scratch (Amazon) or mealworms (Amazon) around you so they can come close to you.

After a few days of giving them treats, you can try putting treats in your hand. You’ll be surprised at how some chickens are brave enough to eat from your hand in no time.

And, the best part, eventually they will let you pet them.

Catching the Chicken

If the chicken is in a cage, come from behind and wrap your hands around its body.

When catching a chicken in a pen, move it calmly into a corner or attract it with a treat. Then, quickly grab it by wrapping your arms around the body. (And remember! Don’t chase it!)

While lifting the chicken, work on sliding one hand underneath it from front to back. It will feel somewhat secure with her breast resting on your forearm.

Talk to the chicken softly. She will possibly be tense but will eventually relax.

Restraining the Legs

The hand that is under her needs to be able to hold her legs too. Place your index finger between her legs and gently hold her legs with your thumb and the rest of your fingers on the side of her legs.

At the same time, support it with the palm of your hand.

Holding the Wings

Your arm can be used to gently press the wings against the chicken’s body to stop it from flapping its wings.

But don’t squeeze too tightly!

Poultry have a weak diaphragm. If you squeeze it too tightly, it may have difficulty breathing.

Turning the Chicken Around

To turn the chicken around, wrap your hands around the body again. While turning it, tuck it under your other arm.

Use your hand again to support the body and hold the legs together. This method allows the temperature to be taken and the vent to be examined.

Releasing the Chicken

To put the chicken back down, hold the bird with its wings against the body and gently put the chicken down.

Make sure the feet touch the ground before you let go. Just dropping a chicken may hurt its legs.

Restraining Chicks

By placing your hands around it in a cup shape, you can restrain and calm small chicks. You can also pick up a chick around the body and hold it under your arm if you need to examine it. But, again, don’t squeeze too tightly!

It’s much easier to pick up hens that have been held as chicks. Some are even going to actively seek you out to pet and hold them.

My chickens are my pets, and most of them allow me to pick them up, carry them, and inspect them without making much of a fuss. However, some breeds will be harder to hold. (I’ve had bad luck with some of my Marans.)