Written by: Ashton from NatureServe
Chickens – little creatures that you just want to pick up and show ALL the affection. While they do not seem to be the type to be loved on, backyard flocks become very accustomed to their human families. Often times they do not mind being picked up, petted and softly spoken too, but this takes time and the knowledge to do so.
As a flock owner it is essential that you know how to properly catch and handle your chickens, this is a good habit for you to get into. Handling them for love and affection is great and all, but you really should be helping your flock familiarize themselves to human touch. This is beneficial on so many levels! Whether it be for medical attention or to place and escapee back in the coop it guaranteed that you’ll have to handle them at some point.
Coax “Em In – First off it is SO important that you do not chase your chickens. This will only result in a skittish and stressed flock, which can lead to other health problems. Instead of chasing … train your chickens to come to you. This sounds a lot harder than it actually is! Chickens are very food driven creatures, they are easily encouraged with a hand full of their feed or a little bit of grain. This will associate you with a treat and they will come running at the sight of you!
Pick ‘Em Up! – When approaching your chicken to pick them up, it is important for you to stay calm. Try your best to coral them into a corner. Place your hand on the middle of their back making sure that you secure their wings as much as possible. Taking note to never grab them by their head, neck, wings or tail feathers! With your free hand, secure their legs and lower body. From there you are going to gently lift them making sure to hold them as close to your body as possible, but being cautious of squeezing too hard. Doing so makes it difficult for them to flap about or jump down out of your arms.
Hold ‘Em Tight – Once you’ve picked your chicken up, still be sure to hold on to them firmly. You can help them feel more secure by gently petting them and talking to them softly. When walking around with them place one hand under the rear and slightly tuck their head into your arm, but be sure to not block their view as this makes them nervous and flighty.
Praise “Em – Rewarding your chicken while it is still in your arms is a great idea to show them that they can be comfortable in your care. Give them their treat and then slowly return them to the ground. Showing them that being handled isn’t a negative experience will benefit you and them greatly.
As you become more confident in your chicken handling, snatching your chickens up more frequently for cuddles will become natural. You will both find peace and comfort with the routine and your chickens will no longer be fearful of you. Ever been the best friend of a chicken? You’re about to be!