How to handle a chicken (literally)
As a chicken keeper, you must learn to handle your chickens correctly. There will be times when you need to do health checks on eyes, beaks, feet, check their vents for mites, or check their crop to see if it's impacted.
- Like most animals, the more they trust you, the more likely they will be to allow you to hold them. Your flock will respond better to handling if you get them used to your hand treating them gently and even feeding them treats.
- Chicken defenses work like this: they first use their wings, then their talons, then their beak for defense. Hens may squat in submissive pose, making it easier to catch them. Roosters do not, and they have an extra defense if not removed - the spurs located above the back of their feet.
- Do not grab chickens by the chest because, like all birds, they have air sacs that they use for respiration. If you hold them too tightly you could prevent them from being able to breathe. Do not grab a hen around the belly - she may be producing an egg.
- Since chickens cannot see in the dark, sometimes your best bet is to try to catch them at night.
- Always move slowly and non-threateningly. Birds are prey species, so are especially sensitive to quick movements.
Hold your chicken in 7 easy steps
Once they are relaxed, you can examine them for external parasites, crop problems, and other health conditions.
- Do not chase chickens. Your best course of action is to get your chickens used to you and to being handled.
- If you have a rogue hen or rooster, herd him or her slowly into a corner.
- Step to the chicken you want to catch and get control of the wings: place one hand over each wing and hold the chicken to your chest, holding one wing in place against your body, tucking her body under your arm to control the wings.
- Place your non-dominant hand over their beak, if you need to.
- Place your dominant hand gently between their feet to get control of them.
- Slowly stroke their back to relax them as you let them "nest" in the crook of your arm.
- Flipping chickens over on their backs while holding them often has a very quieting effect on them as well.
|Chickens can carry a bacteria called salmonella, which usually does not harm them, but can harm humans. This bacteria can be, "in their droppings and on their bodies (feathers, feet, and beaks) even when they appear healthy and clean." according to the Centers for Disease Control. Wash your hands or make sure your child washes his hands immediately after handling chickens.