Handling your birds

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by SheriM, Jan 28, 2009.

  1. SheriM

    SheriM Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 27, 2009
    Just to show you how much of a newbie I am, can someone give me some advice, or point me toward some online info, on how to properly handle chickens? I've seen people catch them by the tail. Is this acceptable? Does it hurt them? I've also seen chickens flipped upside down and carried by the legs. I got the impression this didn't bother the chicken all that much and have seen and heard of lots of people do it, but is it really okay for the birds?

    How do you handle, confine, etc. a wild bird (as in not tame)? If a bird isn't used to being handled but has to be for medical reasons or whatever, what's the best way to hold/handle it? I don't see much point in freaking out a bird that's sick or hurt to the point it dies of fright.
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2009
  2. B. Saffles Farms

    B. Saffles Farms Mr. Yappy Chickenizer

    Nov 23, 2008
    Madisonville, TN
    Dont catch them by the tail. Not sure if it hurts them or not but yoy can oull thier tail feather out. Which takes a long time to grow back. [​IMG] I usally catch mine by the legs if they arent use to being handled. Carrying them upside down is fine and doesnt bother them. Hope this is some help. [​IMG]
  3. Black Feather

    Black Feather Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 20, 2007
    I usually handle mine by gently gripping them around the body to keep their wings closed. I also position one of my hands on their belly, palm up with my fingers pointing toward their tail, and loop my finger and thumb around one leg close to the body, and the same with the other leg between my baby finger and ring finger. It would help to get someone to show you as this is a bit hard to explain.

    I would NOT carry them by their legs. This is unacceptable to me as it could cause injury if they struggled.

    Here is a link with some pics that have the general idea right:

    I will admit that I have grabbed tails in order to keep them from running away, just until I can get my hands around the birds body. I usually pinch the tail between my finger and thumb so as not to damage the tail feathers just to prevent the bird from running away and then place my free hand on the birds shoulders. I don't do this unless I have to though. The preferred method for me is to try and get my hand around the front of the bird to prevent it from running and then pick it up.

    One of the best things I've bought lately was a cheap dollar store butterfly net. I use it to catch the birds in the pens that I can't reach to the back of. It's great...a lot less stress on the birds chasing them around trying to get my hands on them.

    Urban Coyote
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2009
  4. jforsness

    jforsness Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 28, 2008
    Seattle, WA
    I do catch the B's by the tail, but only if I can grab all the feathers securely and down low towards their body. I agree that if a tail feather is pulled out, it would come back slowly, so do at your discretion. They voice no displeasure at being "caught" this way, and they always voice an opinion when they be upset.

    I do not recommend carrying them by their legs (unless your about to off their heads) as they can be injured while they struggle in this position.
  5. LynneP

    LynneP Chillin' With My Peeps

    This was my biggest question when I started the flock last spring. Now, I had them at 12 hours old and received good advice, so I hope you'll be as happy as I was. Always work in or near your brooder and in safe, escape-proof settings.

    Remember that birds have trouble breathing if turned upside down and that if you grasp by legs, neck or wings (except for certain advanced purposes) you may kill or injure the bird.

    As someone above has said, gently grasp with both hands, securing the wings firmly. slowly, and with determination. Some chicks will cry out but most adjust fast and you may have some who love being handled. All mine are *great* with this. As you lift up to your waist area, secure the inner wing against your ribs and support the bird under the sternum so that her head is up and she knows you will not drop her. You ust be very careful not to drop her. A bad experience may ruin this, and you need to be able to handle her throughout her life. Speak low, kindly, with encouragement and don't keep her too long before reversing the procedure and setting her down where she can feel first with her toes and it is secure. After a few sessions, place her on your lap, stroke her, evaluate how she will behave. Most will adore you, some will coo, many will rub their necks or beaks against you. Being able to handle them is smart, and a godsend when you *must*. You do not want a terrified bird that will panic, lash out, or, worse, injure itself more. If you handle every bird every day for the first two weeks, when they are flying, they will always be in your comfort zone.

    This is Redwing, who is smitten with my husband. If you enlarge this you'll see a star in her eye. She is so sweet that if either of us is in the coop, she waits to lay her egg so she can call us over to see. Once you are handling the birds, they will transfer the trust to others, provided they are gentle and knowledgeable. Redwing can be lifted from anywhere to David's lap and will remain there, cooing, dancing, allowing herself to be petted. We could inject her, examine her, medicate her.


    Another part of handling is stroking when they squat. I'll leave that until your girls become layers!
  6. ella

    ella Chillin' With My Peeps

    If you need to handle a wild-ish bird I'd do it at night, wait till they go to roost and grab them, they'll be much calmer and less stressed.

    Even for my sweet snuggly chickens I wait till after dark to do medical treatments because they're so much more relaxed.

    Unless it's an emergency. But there are not a lot of medical emergencies where the bird is still active enough to elude you.

    If you have the time and desire to do it, it's very benefical to tame them. Put down a towel, sit on the ground with them and feed 'em treats. Pretty soon they'll be climbing all over you. Then you can start petting them. Some will love it, others never will, but at least they won't be terrified of you. Makes everything so much easier! [​IMG]
  7. SheriM

    SheriM Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 27, 2009
    Thanks for all the great advice, and for the link to the pictures. (Gotta love pictures!) I really do want my chickens to be tame and unafraid of me. I raise goats and I am actually starting to cull for flighty temperments. I do not have much help here on the farm and have to do most things by myself, so trying to work with any animal that would rather be 40 miles away from a human being is tough.
  8. the1much

    the1much Currently Birdless Hippy

    only extra advice i would have,, is dont handle your roo's unless necessary,, once a month go out and grab them,, look them all over,, and set em down,,,,,,, if you try to make your roo a pet-able pet,, you will just be back asking how to deal with a mean roo [​IMG] lol

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