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How to Catch Chickens

Chickens have an uncanny ability to avoid being caught. Reach down to grab a bird and normally the whole flock scurries hastily away. Fortunately, a few tricks make catching a hen much easier, so you can examine her for parasites, simply hold and pet her, or when it’s time to sell or give her away.

Night Time Capture:
The best way to nab a chicken is after it has settled on the roost for the night. The most agile and wary daytime bird can be easily caught after dark. Enter the coop with a flashlight pointing down and gently grab the bird over its wings with both hands so it can’t flap. It’s the “no fuss” capture method.

Day Time Capture:
Sometimes catching a bird during daylight hours is necessary, and there are two techniques that can work well:

  1. Approaching a hen quietly from behind may cause her to stop walking, crouch down and slightly raise up her wings. This is the posture hens take when they are about to be mounted by a rooster. A human can sometimes stimulate this behavior by hovering over the bird. It seems to work best with heavy breeds. Once she’s assumed this distinctive posture, all a person needs to do is gently grasp her with both hands over her wings so she can’t flap and pick her up.
  2. The other effective way isn’t quite as quiet or gentle. Long handled poultry hooks can be made from a four-foot section of stiff wire or bought from poultry supply places. Go into the coop during the day and birds will race around avoiding capture but it’s usually easy to slip the hook over one leg and pull her toward you. Large long handled nets, like anglers use, are also helpful in catching a hen.