I’m not surprised that many people don’t know how to properly hold a chicken. This is not news, especially for new chickens keepers. What remains certain is that there is a way chickens should be handled. And that is what we are going to discuss in detail.
So, do you know how to properly hold a chicken? If not, then it is time to learn how best you can hold your feathered friends. While some chickens are friendly and easy to handle, others are stubborn. Regardless of their contrasting social traits, chickens need to be held properly.
A few birds are a little bit cautious when you get close to them. But breeds such as Brahmas, Orpingtons, and other heavy chickens enjoy being caught or held.
In most cases, they will sit quietly perched on your hand or arm. They enjoy it if you hold them frequently while talking to them softly. These are only exceptions.
Quite a number of chickens dislike being held. They furiously kick and flap their wings in the protest. Sometimes they cause injuries to the handler or themselves. Their unruly behavior should be avoided by all means.
Here are simple steps on how to properly hold a chicken:
Picking Up Your Chicken
The first step to properly hold your chicken is to pick it up. This step will determine whether you are going to handle your bird properly or not. So, you need to be extremely careful when approaching it.
Below are steps to follow when getting hold of your feathered friend for the first time:
Use Treats to Attract Your Chicken
Chickens love tasty treats. They will do anything to have a taste of any treat you present them. No wonder you will always see them running to you whenever you approach them with something edible in your hands. Therefore, you can apply this trick to attract them to you.
Bring some treats in your chicken coop or pen with you. Treats such as dry cereal, mealworms, or watermelon can excite your birds to the extent of crowding around you. Take advantage of this behavior to get hold of them when need be.
Give them those treats from your palms and stay calm while watching them. Observe their moves and how they are scrambling for their meal. Identify your target bird and prepare to get hold of it.
If your target chicken is too scared to get closer to you, find the means to make it calm. Better still, encourage it to get near you by placing treats on the path leading to you. Be patient while monitoring your chicken as it eats the food on the ground.
Once it gets calm and comfortable, try to pick it up. Don’t chase your chicken around because it will get stressed or sick. The process of training your bird to come closer to you makes picking it up a lot easier.
Use a Net to Hold Your Chicken
This method is applicable when your chicken is not trained to come to you. Also, it provides you with a quick means to catch your bird. Reach out for a large pool skimming or fishing net and use it to capture your chicken.
Hold the net firmly in front of the chicken you want to catch. Stay calm while watching the movement of your bird. As soon as it steps on the net, lift it gently and carefully to catch the chicken.
On the other hand, you may drop the fishing net over your bird to save your time. But this process may be a little bit difficult unless you are highly experienced in catching chickens.
Use Your Dominant Hand to Secure the Chicken’s Wings
After getting hold of your chicken, use your dominant hand to secure essential body parts. These include the wings and the back, not to mention the legs.
Slowly and carefully, stretch out your hand towards the chicken. Then place the palm of your dominant hand on its back. Keep the hand firm and steady to prevent the chicken from making unnecessary movements.
Use the other Hand to Secure Your Chicken’s Legs
While keeping your dominant hand on the chicken’s back, use the other one to secure the legs. Gently reach underneath and start from the breast moving towards the legs. Let the palm rest against the breast for a while.
Position the middle finger between your chicken’s legs and then let the rest of the fingers hold each leg. Balance its weight on your thumb and palm. This technique allows the chicken to stay calm and safe and not kick in protest.
Lift the Chicken from the Ground
Use both hands to support the chicken’s body while holding it. Move it slowly and gently so that it does not become stressed.
At this point, you may notice it moving legs and wings slightly as you lift it off the ground. This movement should not worry you because it’s just a natural response to changes in positions.
Hold the Chicken Firmly Against Your Body
In order to keep your bird safe, hold it firmly against your body. You may hug it closer to your chest, place it between your arms, or secure it between your ribs. While keeping your feathered friend comfortable against your body, get hold of its legs to secure them.
Rest your dominant hand on a wing that is far away from your body to keep the chicken calm. That is if you are holding it against your chest. Prevent your bird from flapping and jumping to keep it safe against injuries. Hold it firmly to avoid any movements.
Most importantly, be gentle while handling it. Chickens feel nice when you hold them comfortably so that they don’t feel squashed.
Handling and Letting Go of Your Chicken
Keep the Chicken Calm
Don’t assume that holding your chicken is all you need to do. There is a lot more to come to accomplish your task.
Once you have secured your chicken in your arms, pet and talk to it softly. Stroke its back and feathers to relax it. On top of that, speak softly so it can get used to you and your sound.
All these tactics will help you earn the trust of your chicken. It will also create an everlasting relationship with your bird. In return, you will find it easier to hold it whenever you want to.
Look for Parasites in Your Chicken’s Feathers
Getting hold of your backyard chicken allows you to inspect its feathers for parasites. All you have to do is to gently part the feathers, and everything else will fall in place. Look all over the skin for signs of parasites or anything that looks suspicious.
Some of the common parasites that attack chickens include fleas and poultry lice. Poultry lice are known to produce clumped, white eggs. Fleas, however, lay tiny, brown, and jumpy eggs.
During your feather inspection, you can rely on this information to identify the type of parasite on your chicken’s body. Whether you find fleas or poultry lice, make sure to contact a veterinarian for further assistance.
Lower the chicken on the Ground and Release it
After you are done with the inspection of your chicken’s feathers, you should let it go to join the rest of your flock.
Hold it away from your body with the legs and wings in a secure position. Ensure that the feet are touching the ground before releasing it. Gently remove your hands and allow it to get back to the coop or pen.
Provide Your Chicken with Some Tasty Treats While Releasing it
Don’t just release your bird and let it rejoin the other flock without giving it some treats. Instead, place a few tasty treats in your palm for your chicken to eat after handling it. This is a kind gesture to strengthen your relationship with your birds.
Do it routinely to get your birds to associate, holding them with enjoying treats. In the end, you will develop a trusting bond with your chickens and have an easy time when handling them.
What should I do when my chicken keeps on flapping its wings despite doing everything possible to make it relax? Apply the wing-hold method to solve your problem. The wing-hold technique will help you contain the situation. But if your chicken is panicking a lot, just place it down.
Do these methods used in holding chickens cause post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) among the timid birds? Probably yes. PTSD is one of the most complicated psychological problems that chickens’ brainpower cannot handle. As such, be careful and patient with your birds to build their trust.
Even though your chickens might be the most lovable birds around you, holding them can be a challenging task. That is why you need to know how to properly hold your chickens for feather inspection and other related reasons. Provide them with enough tasty treats and always stay calm and composed when handling them. Take care not to injure your birds whenever you are holding them.