How Do You Hold Your Chickens

On average what are the main ways you to hold chickens?

  • Hold their whole body, pinning their wings to their sides (the "normal" way)

    Votes: 59 80.8%
  • By their legs, upsidown

    Votes: 3 4.1%
  • By their tail feathers

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Showmanship style

    Votes: 20 27.4%
  • By their wings, one hand holding each wing

    Votes: 2 2.7%
  • Other, please explain below

    Votes: 7 9.6%

  • Total voters
  • This poll will close: .


Sep 4, 2019
What ways do you most like to hold your chickens (we're taking about hens and roos, not chicks)? What ways do you think hurt them? Post your opinion below.

Please make sure to be polite and not to criticize others for how they hold their chickens. It's okay to say "I don't use that method, because..." but please don't write mean things or "yell" at others. One BYC member on here (I forgot who) says that because we are reading the messages we can't hear tone, so we could either interpret words as mean or advising. Please check over your message before posting to make sure nobody will find it offensive.

In case anybody is wondering, the showmanship style of holding chickens is how 4Hers hold their chickens at shows. You face the bird towards you and slip your middle finger (and maybe your fourth finger, depends on the size of the chicken and who taught you) between their legs, with your seconds and fourth finger on the outside of the legs. Then you hold down their wings with your thumb and pointer finger. It's difficult at first, and if you have small hands it's recommended that you get a small showbird. At least, that's the way I learned how to hold them. If you use another method please post below.

By "the normal way" I mean holding your chicken against you with a hand under their breast while pinning their wings to their sides, and other variations like that.

I hold my chickens "the normal way", except when I'm working with my fairbird, who I make sure to always hold showmanship style. I feel like most the other methods might hurt the chicken, some more than others, but if others feel otherwise than that's fine with me.

Please politely post your own opinions below!


Free Ranging
Jan 4, 2019
North East USA
I hold them against my body sometimes. But I usually hold them "4H style":

Hold the chicken in front of you so the bird's head is facing you. Your palm should be under the breast area of the bird so that one thigh rests between your thumb and index finger and your remaining fingers wrap around the other leg and extend up the side of the body.


Dec 12, 2018
Knoxville, TN
I have white leghorns. They aren't show chickens or pet chickens. They don't like to be held or captured. I have learned that if I have control of their feet and legs, upside down or not, they know they are caught and submit. I don't hold them upside down unless I just have to grab them that way.

People that catch greased up pigs at the fair should try catching white leghorns.


Free Ranging
10 Years
Sep 19, 2009
Holts Summit, Missouri
I am right handed so bird is held in left hand / arm. The bird's keel is in my palm and inner part of my forearm where the birds "heels" are constrained gently by my fingers. This leaves my dominant hand free to manipulate bird for judge / audience.

Pet birds for behavioral related simply perch on hand or forearm. These birds typically fly to hand when called.


Chicken Juggler!
Premium member
7 Years
Nov 27, 2012
SW Michigan
My Coop
My Coop
Showmanship when they are small.
"Normal" then Football when bigger.
By the feet as they go into the cone.
I only handle my birds a bit for 'taming' as chicks in the brooder then off the roost at night,
and mostly only for exams when I put them on my 'lap sling'(long apron).
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