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How to Catch and Handle Your Chickens!

To chicken-handling novices, the prospect of catching and holding your chickens can be quite daunting - lots of flapping and squawking, and the potential of being too rough and hurting your pet. However, with the right technique, you’ll soon be safely holding your chickens like a seasoned poultry professional.

Learning how to catch and handle your birds is a valuable skill

Chickens need to be picked up regularly, as you'll likely need to move them around the garden, and catch them to give them health checks. The more you handle your chickens, the less stressful they will find it, and the easier it will be to catch them. For the first few weeks, it’s advisable to let them get used to you by offering them treats from your hand, and slowly stroking them. If you’ve been trying to tame them for a while and this isn’t working, you can try introducing them to being held when they’re in a calmer mood. You can often do this at night when they’re in their coop


Chickens are quite delicate creatures, so it’s important to be gentle but firm. When picking up a chicken, do so by placing one hand on either side of her body, holding her wings firmly to her sides so that she can’t unfurl them and flap around. Hold her close to your chest. A good grip is achieved by one hand holding her to your chest and the other supporting her and keeping her legs still – your index and fourth finger should be outside her legs, with the middle inbetween


Customer Images

Book buddies, Bubble and Jasmine
My hens settling into the coop, day one
Clean up operation and chicken enrichment
holding the chickens in college.
My girl Florence
Don't squeeze them, but the more you pick them up the tamer they become
First time I picked up my chicken
Once they get used to you they may even perch on your shoulder!


Phillip, 27 May 2020

Yes I agree if cocks are not handled they will attack you. I had a flock of 50 chickens with a number of cocks. Ones that I hatched from eggs that I left alone used to attack the back of my legs when I used to turn around. Just leaving foot prints on my legs just was annoying. When I had 7 hens and one cock which was handled to put in a dark pen untill 7 am (so they don't make noise at 3am etc.. he was fine at being picked up and put to bed and never attacked in anyway. So keeping all chickens are fine but in urban areas you check local legalisation and handle cocks and keep them tame. In my area there is no legalisation about keeping cocks and hens so that when I started growing my flock I mostly left them to do there thing under defra you don't register flocks untill after 50 chickens. When my flock was coming up to o er 50 one or two was ready for the pot (eating) . Should only eat food you are ready to kill or would kill for food. Table birds are also about 20 kg in weight so alot better than supermarket brought very small chickens. My dog used to be fine around my chickens but did not like pigeons and used to try to kill them (never got one though).

Blake, 24 July 2018

I wait until they have gone to roost to handle mine. I try and go out every night and pet them for a few minutes. It gets them uae to my voice and touching them

Leah, 14 December 2017

Personally the rooster comment on the end was unnecessary it tells people new to chickens that roosters are not be handled. Yet in 4h most showmen ship chickens are roos. And you need to handle a rooster in order to do showmen ship. Also most roosters if treated the same as hens will gladly let you pick them up and cuddle with you very few roos are aggressive or dislike human contact. hundreds of thousand of them are sent off to the butcher daily because of people who say they don't like humans when there just like any other hen or chicken. Most chickens are not easy to catch, unless they are handled daily, just because they are males dose not mean they are more aggressive or un-cuddly..

Gill, 30 May 2016

We have had our hens for 10 days. Any Advice on catching them?

Debbie, 28 May 2013

Great advice for fit young people. I am 50 and my hens are quick on their feet. I wait until they have gone in for the night - they are much easier to pick up and handle when they are roosting causing a lot less stress if your birds would rather not be picked up :)