How should I handle my chickens?

Chickens who need to be examined should be caught quickly and cleanly, with minimal stress. You may sometimes be able to easily catch a chicken at night-time, simply by lifting them off their roosting perch.

To pick up a chicken, lift them by advancing your hand, palm uppermost and fingers extended, under the bird’s chest from front to rear. As the bird is lifted, your thumb and fingers are spread to hold the feet and, with the palm, support the bird’s weight; the other hand is used to gently restrain the wings. The bird is then supported in the palm of your hand or forearm, facing you, with their legs held between your fingers. If necessary, the bird can be cradled against your body and gently restrained there with your free hand.

While picking up your chicken, talk quietly and reassuringly to them. Remember, this can be a very stressful and scary situation for a chicken, although many become used to it and accept handling with minimal fuss.

You should NEVER restrain your chicken upside down. It is very stressful and, if they have a full crop, it can regurgitate the crop contents. If the chickens inhales this material, they can die or develop aspiration pneumonia.

Included below is a video that demonstrates correct handling for your chickens.


​​Greenacre C (2021) Physical examination. In: Greenacre C, Morishita T (eds) Backyard Poultry Medicine and Surgery: A Guide for Veterinary Practitioners. John Wiley & Sons, Inc, pp 159–172

​Poland G, Raftery A (2019) Handling, transportation, and hospitalisation. In: BSAVA Manual of Backyard Poultry Medicine and Surgery. British Small Animal Veterinary Association , pp 45–50

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Updated on September 19, 2023
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