Correct way to pick up a chicken

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by SC-Chick-A-Dee, Nov 28, 2009.

  1. SC-Chick-A-Dee

    SC-Chick-A-Dee Hatching

    Nov 28, 2009
    I am really new to taking care of chickens. But I LOVE it! My chickens are the cutest, and we get lots of wonderful fresh eggs every day (we have 8 beautiful sex-linked hens in a 10x10 x4 chicken tractor.) Today my husband & I were dusting them for mites, and by trial and error we found that by carefully grabbing them by the legs, & hanging them upside down was the least traumatic for them. It enabled us to dust under their wings and vents easily. My 17 year old daughter told us we were being cruel to them. But they seemed so mellow and relaxed, I really think we did OK. I stroked them gently after their treatment (most of them always let me pet them) & they calmly walked away. What is the proper way to handle chickens in this situation?
  2. silkiechicken

    silkiechicken Staff PhD

    You can hold them up by their legs just fine. In other countries, that is often how they transport the birds if there are no cages available. Plus, in a dusting situation, that is going to get into their feathers really well and keep the dust off yourself.

    In regular times though, just "foot ball" the chicken as if it was a foot ball.
  3. dianer29

    dianer29 Songster

    Aug 31, 2009
    Somewhere on this byc it mentions that carrying chic kens like that , for whatever reason is not good. It effects their breathing. I would not recommend it. There are safe,healthier ways to handle them. Try to look thru this forum as it is important that you explore other safer practices. Just my input .There calm reaction to it means possible their system is "shut down" due to resporitory challange. Perhaps others online today will interject?
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2009
  4. i wouldn't hesitate to hold them like that for a quick treatment of some sort, but i'd do it quickly. i mean, no one likes to hang upside down for long, right?

    i've found that the easiest, most calming way to hold my chickens is to scoop them up from the front, a finger or two between their legs and one outside each leg. this way, their chests lay in my palm while their legs dangle through my fingers. my chickens are much more relaxed when i do this as opposed to picking them up from behind and pinning their wings. i think my hand cradling them is comforting and they can see me at all times. this also keeps them from injuring themselves if they try to get away. i can either just let them flap off or, if i need to hold onto them for some reason, i can squeeze my fingers gently around their legs. they usually settle right back down once they realize they can't go anywhere.

    several of my chicks will now walk into my hand wanting to be picked up and cuddled. as silkiechicken said, the football technique works well too if you are just carrying them around.
  5. Princess Amri

    Princess Amri Is Mostly Harmless

    Jul 16, 2009
    To catch a hen, you can catch hold of the chicken's tail and quickly put your hand in front of their chest. The other method is to catch them from the front. With roosters, it's better NOT to catch them from the front because they think you're attacking.
    You'll have to figure out a good way to hold chickens, I'm not good at explaining it.
    I hope that was helpful!
    Gavin.F likes this.
  6. mdbokc

    mdbokc Songster

    Jun 22, 2009
    Oklahoma County, OK
    Woo Hoo!!! I am glad "football" the chicken was explained. I thought it was someone just kidding around about kicking them like a football. Because it can be tough not to step on someone's feet when there are dozen milling around your feet as you move forward.
  7. chickerdoodle

    chickerdoodle Songster

    Aug 21, 2009
    One of my chicken books says hanging them upside down is not good and puts them in shock which is why they don't struggle. Personally I don't plan on doing so. We also plan on using food grade DE in their dusting hole as Sevin is carcinogenic. If we find dusting them is too hard I'll do it at night when they are sleepy--we don't have chickens yet but helped dust some at a farm so I'm not an expert!
  8. K8tieCat

    K8tieCat Songster

    Jan 15, 2007
    Northern California
    I use DE all over the run, the coop and especially in their favorite bathing holes. The chickens all dust themselves. They love to be picked up and cuddled. However, when they were a bit younger, I had issues with one hen who was bullying and being mean to all the others in general, but especially to a hen returning from a two day stay the "hospital" (my kitchen). I picked her up by the feet and held her upside down for a bit after one of her tirades. When I put her back down she was calm and she ceased being a problem to her hen mates or anyone else again. While it is true that nobody likes to be hung upside down, that is also the best reason for doing it. We don't discipline our children because they like it or dislike it; we hope they learn a lesson from being uncomfortable (no I don't hang my kids upside down!). I believe it is the same for chickens as well. Chickens are not as stupid as people like to think they are.
  9. WriterofWords

    WriterofWords Has Fainting Chickens

    Dec 25, 2007
    Chaparral, New Mexico
    I think it depends on what you are going to do with them after you catch them. Like you said, holding them upside down gets the dust where it needs to be and it's not like you are keeping them that way for a long period of time. When you are carrying them around for a bit, the football method is great.
  10. dianer29

    dianer29 Songster

    Aug 31, 2009
    It is not a question , if the chicken likes it or not, it is what is best for the chickens health and to be calmed down while upside down is not what is happening to them,their body is not experiencing a healthy experience/treatment . Their resporitory system is being taxed.Compromising their ability to breathe correctly is not the result we are not looking for, we need to maintain our chickens and to provide healthcare treatments not just to achieve a calm chicken result. Chickens have to be taken care of and they do not always like it ,there are alternative methods to getting the desired results we seek right here in this forum. Owning poultry is not always easy and it is an ungoing learning experience.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by: