What is the proper way to hold a chicken?

Shamo Hybrid

Jun 6, 2018
This is probably too late in the game to have to ask this question but, what is the correct and proper technique to hold a chicken? I mean, everyone can just pick up and hold one, but what is the best way to hold a chicken without having it squirm all over making you lose grip and letting go? I've always had a hard time holding them, I don't know if this matters but I have Oriental Gamefowls.

Rose Quartz

Mar 18, 2018
East Hants N.S. Canada
I don't know if it's really considered the right way, but generally I'll have one arm wrapped around the wings to keep them from flapping around, with the hand of that arm kind of holding gently around the knee area, and then the other hand under their feet so they aren't freaking out over not having a foot hold.


Chicken Juggler!
Premium Feather Member
8 Years
Nov 27, 2012
SW Michigan
My Coop
My Coop
I use the football hold, after picking them up them with both hands around wings.
Key is to keep their wings against their bodies to keep them from struggling.
Might need to hold feet too, or at least keep them from gaining purchase with them.
Being calm and confident, talking low and soft, can help keep you both calm.
I rarely handle a bird except off the roost after dark, it's all much easier then.


Jul 31, 2018
Catalonia, Spain
My Coop
My Coop
I was taught when young to slide your right hand under their body past the keel so the keel is resting one the fleshy part of your forearm. If your hands are big enough the chickens two legs should slide between little finger and adjacent and forefinger and adjacent. Pull the chicken in close to your body and cover the wings gently with your free hand.
To pick them up I slide both hands in low and slow and close them around the chicken so the thumbs partially trap the wings.


Aug 4, 2018
HRM, Nova Scotia, Canada
Depends on how tame the bird is. If it's a nasty rooster I don't know, a sour old guinea, or something like a ring-necked pheasant, especially a mature male with potentially dangerous spurs, I play it safe and use my 'working' grip. I use my left hand to firmly hold the bird's feet, always being careful to keep a finger or two in between their legs to prevent them from rubbing painfully together or any spurs from cutting them. The bird's body can then be held draped over your left forearm, its head facing your left elbow and probably lying against your upper arm, and its left wing snugged against your body while your right hand (which for me is my dominant hand) remains free to tend to any initial flapping from the right wing or take care of anything that needs to be done to the bird's face, feet, etc. I find that even semi-wild birds will normally only try once to escape an immobilizing grip like this, and will then relax when they realize it's hopeless to struggle, at which point you can sit with them semi-lying in your lap should you want to do something with them like oiling their legs or trimming claws, spurs, etc. Just keep hold of their legs and they'll stay quiet.

For tame birds, I just initially lift them up with both hands, facing away from me, slip my right hand past their right side and under to support their weight by their breast as much as possible...hold them tucked against my chest. This is for birds that go limp as soon as they're picked up and let their legs dangle. In this case it's my dominant hand holding them and my left hand that remains free, and that's fine because birds like this don't struggle or really need to be restrained.


Nov 2, 2018
NW Ohio


5 Years
Oct 7, 2014
You can also do a chicken burrito when doing something medical, like giving a shot. Get a towel or blanket and wrap it around the chickens midsection, wings and breast, and legs if you don't need them out for something, like an injection, and tuck the towel.

Put part of the towel over the chickens head to calm it. You can tend to the chicken by yourself this way. It's something that's pretty hard to do without a second person.

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