Activities which involve handling and restraint 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 chickens poorly, you can stress or injure them. Beaks and claws can also cause you some injuries. So follow these tips to keep your chickens from panicking and getting hurt.
The method of retraining a chicken below leave one hand free for examination.
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 talk to it quietly to comfort it.
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 scratch 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.
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. Many of my chickens allow me to pick them up, hold them, and inspect them without making much of a fuss. (Although, some breeds will never be the touchy-feely part. I’ve had bad luck with Marans).
If you have a chicken that’s really resistant to being caught and held, just pick it off from the roost at bedtime. It’s the easiest and less stressful way to get it done.
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 chest 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. Slip your thumb and ring finger around her legs and gently hold them.
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!
Chickens 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 chicken 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.
By placing your hands around it in a cup shape, you can restrain and calm 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!