Restraining a chicken humanely is the act of holding the chicken in a way that is the least stressful for the chicken. Restraint allows you to physically examine the animal, carry it to another place or administer medications and is an important part of correct poultry husbandry.

There are different methods of restraint. You can pick up a chick around the body and hold it under your arm, or you can hold it by its feet. Little chicks have a special way of being held.

Holding the chicken around the bodyEdit

  1. Poultry Handling Demonstration

    Poultry Handling Demonstration

    Remove the chicken from the cage or catch it in the pen. When removing the chicken from a cage, come from behind and wrap your hands around its body. When catching a chicken in a pen, move it calmly into a corner or lure it with a treat and then quickly grab it by wrapping your arms around the body. Don't chase it as this can cause a lot of stress.
  2. Hold the wings against the body to prevent the chicken from flapping its wings but don't squeeze too tightly - allow the chicken to breathe.
  3. Lift the chicken out of the cage or up from the ground and tuck it under your arm.
  4. Put one of your hands between the legs and squeeze them together gently, supporting it at the same time with the palm of your hand. Your arm can be used to gently press the wings against the body and stop it from flapping. This method leaves one hand free for examination, such as checking the feet, taking temperature, measuring respiration rate etc.
  5. To turn the chicken around, wrap your hands around the body again and while turning it, tuck it under your other arm. Use your hand again for support of the body and to hold the legs together. This position allows you to take the temperature and examine the vent.
  6. To put the chicken back down, hold the wings against the body, and with your hands wrapped around it gently lift it down. Make sure the feet touch the ground before you let go.


General Things to consider when Restraining a ChickenEdit

Remember: Always be calm around the chicken, and avoid stressing it out unnecessarily.

Chicken are flock animals with many predators. If you chase them around quickly, the chicken perceives you as a predator. Illness and stress can be exacerbated by further stress.

Remember: Never squeeze a chicken too tightly.

Birds have an incomplete diaphragm. If you squeeze a bird too tightly, it may have difficulty breathing.

Remember: The chickens legs should touch the ground before you let it go.

Generally the chicken will struggle and try to get away from you as fast as possible. Simply dropping a bird from a height while it's struggling may cause injuries to the legs.

Do you feel ready to take the quiz on restraining chickens? Click here!

Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.