Does anyone have advice for handling hens? I have two that are a bit skittish and it's tough for me to catch them to put them back in their coop.... I saw someone pick one up by the feet once... is that the best way?
You'd probably want to try getting them to see that you mean them no harm, first. I hold all of mine by holding them to my side in one hand, and keeping my other with my fingers between their legs so they fit nice and comfy. I'd go for hand-feeding first and let them get to know you. Then I'd try to hold them firmly and get them used to such contact. I don't like to hold them upside-down...and I think your girls will thank you later if you don't!
When you first put your chickens in their coop did you lock them in for about a week? That's what I did - actually with mine it was closer to two weeks. Now they all automatically go in the coop to roost at dusk and there's no catching involved.
If I need to handle one of my more skittish hens (I have 3 that are in that category) I wait until they've gone to roost and they let me pick them up easily then.
I've tried to handle those three more to get them less skittish, but it's just their personalities. They don't spaz out when I do handle them. They would just prefer I didn't.
I did the same as Grit and mine all go back in on their own. They will get used to you...give them treats while calling "Here Chick Chick" soon they will be jumping on your shoulder! Mine do that all the time. No problems catching the ones I need at all. I do kind of corner them and grab their tail and pick them up that way if they act shy.
When I started calling mine for some reason instead of "Here chick chick!" I hollered "C'mon girls!" Now they can be anywhere on the farm and all I have to do is holler C'mon girls and wait. They all show up, including my roo who I guess doesn't mind me calling him a girl.
Only problem is, C'mon girl is also what I use to call to the dogs and my cat. They all come running too and then look confused when I shoo them away.
I do the same as Gritstar. The chooks know me as the food/treat source. As soon as I walk to the coop and call them, they come a'runnin! I give them their evening treats and close the coop up while they're gorging themselves. My chasing days are over, thank goodness.
As far as carrying them, I don't know if I'd carry them by their feet. Seems sort of mean. But who am I to say. I carry two at a time, tucked under each arm, like footballs. I'd bet that if you handle them a bit, and hand feed them some treats, they'll warm up to you. My girls actually snuggled with me this winter once they figured out that, hey, she's WARM.