Handling and Picking Up Your Hens

Some people like to sit with their hens in their laps, others would prefer that the birds stay at their feet. But, regardless of how you like to hang with your hens, being able to pick them up easily is essential for their care. You’ll need to check them for lice, or injury. You might need to move a hen from one pen to another, or pick it up when it gets in your flower bed. Chickens that are used to being handled and held are easier to care for.

Some chickens are innately friendly and fearless, but most of them respond to arms swooping down to scoop them up as any prey animal would, with fear. So, the first thing to do is to spend time with your chickens so that they can get to know and trust you. If you get your birds as chicks handle them, but be careful to be very gentle, and don’t fuss with them so much that you annoy them. Adult hens will respond positively to a person sitting on a low stool in the midst who is tossing delicious treats or simply sitting in quiet companionship. Your chickens should recognize that you are the bearer of good things, like water, food and entertainment. If your chickens run away when they see you, then rethink how you interact with them.

Picking up a chicken is a learned skill. You need to do it quickly and firmly. Hold their wings at their sides so that they can’t flap. Always talk quietly and calmly.

I’ve made a video so you can see how I pick up my hens. I hope that it helps in your daily care and interaction with your flock.