Chicken farming can be an exciting hobby to have. Whether you do it as a living or just as a simple past-time out of sheer love for feathery birds, rearing hens can be a reward in itself. Besides the obvious perks of having a regular supply of eggs and fresh meat in handy, chickens are seemingly popular as pets in rural households.
Despite all these, no chicken farmer will disagree that it can be one heck of a massacre when a chicken flees from its shed. So, how to catch a chicken exactly?
Merely chasing after the chicken can be a tedious feat to achieve. So here, in this article, we break down some of the easiest and most trusted means of catching a chicken!
Why Chicken Flee?
Chickens are, by nature, somewhat nervous birds. In the slightest sense of any trouble or danger, these feathery birds will raise havoc and try to run away from the scene as fast as they can.
Oddly enough, chickens are still very peace-loving. These birds usually build a bond of trust with the farmer raising them and are relatively steady around their presence. This is because of their habit of regularly receiving food from the specific person.
However, the case may not be the same for a stranger. And, for a chicken, a stranger is just about anyone else other than their dedicated farmer. So, during the day, when they are out and about, the chicken may start to run or flee from their coop when anything out of the ordinary occurs.
This can even be a sudden sound or flash of light. In some cases, you might need to catch a chicken for slaughtering or medication purposes, and it might start running after sensing the imminent threat.
Quite interestingly, the average speed of a running hen is recorded to be around 9 mph, which is slightly higher than that of the average human (8.6 mph). So, you can reasonably assume that when a chicken decides to make a run for it, chasing it to a halt can be quite a show!
How to Catch a Chicken
If you’ve read this far, you should be convinced that chickens are prone to fleeing and do not like to be caught. Especially once they have sensed any imminent hazard or nervous flick, they will run for their life.
So catching a chicken is not the most straightforward job in the world. Luckily for you, we have compiled here some proven ways of successfully capturing your feathery little friend. Let’s get right to it!
Wait till Nightfall
Nighttime is when chickens are the most vulnerable and least aware of their surroundings. Typically, it’s the time when they tend to roost. So, when you have a chicken on the loose, and you want to grab it with your hands, your best chance of doing it successfully is after it’s dark.
Move close to the chicken after you’ve located it near its original coop. Chicken are birds of habit. Even after fleeing to an unknown location, they’ll be subject to return to their cage or at least in its vicinity at night.
Be careful only to shine the flashlight on the ground and not directly on the chicken as that will startle it. After you’re close enough, gently grab the chicken as quietly as possible without making any noise. Then place the chicken back into its coop and latch the doors securely.
Use a Bait
If you cannot spot the chicken anywhere near its coop, it’s very likely that the chicken is lost and can’t merely find its way back home. If that is the case, you can use chicken feed as bait.
Spread around some loose chicken fodder like breadcrumbs or grains around open spaces. Hens are prone to flocking when they sense food around. So, quite evidently, the lost chicken will track the feed and come to forage.
Once the chicken returns, follow the same protocol as gently grabbing the chicken without startling it away. Remember only to follow this method if you’re sure the chicken completely trusts you. Otherwise, it won’t come to use, and the chicken will run away again once you approach it.
Deploy a Mechanical Trap
This technique is only for when the chicken does not want to be caught or doesn’t trust you enough to let you grab it. Such a situation might arise when the chicken is relatively new to the herd or because it’s just hard to catch for you!
Purchase a commercial chicken trap made out of galvanized steel or fashion one yourself out of steel wire mesh. These chicken traps are mechanically designed to let chickens enter into the cavity but not let it escape. You can even collapse or expand the traps based on how many chickens you’re willing to catch at a time.
Place the live trap on your yard near the coop and set it up with some bird feed. Make sure that the loose chicken notices the feed. Move further away and observe while hiding from a distance. The chicken is quite likely to approach since, well, although fast, they are not the smartest of birds!
Once the chicken tries to grab the feed, it will set the mechanical trap in motion, and the chicken will be caught without a miss.
Equip a Poultry Hook
The poultry hook is another possible way to catch a chicken that’s on the run. To be honest, it’s one of the most fun ways to do so, too!
The hooks are designed so that you can reel in a chicken from a distance by simply attaching it to their feet.
Instead of hopelessly running around your yard after that stubborn chicken, use a grappling hook like a leash and aim for their legs. Once the clip attaches, pull in the chicken closer and disentangle. Return the chicken to the safety of its coop.
One thing, however, to keep in mind is the safety issue here. Poultry hooks can be quite prone to causing accidents if not equipped with expert hands. The pins can snag into the hollow bones inside the chicken’s leg and end up injuring them. Also, it is strictly forbidden to use the hook to catch a chicken by the neck.
Use a Fishing Net
Although not the most conventional method, using a fishing net is still the most effective way to catch a chicken when all else fails. Especially when your chickens have become familiar with traps or hooks, the fishing net will come in handy as a foolproof technique.
Just as though skimping a fishing net over a pond, throw it over the chicken from quite a distance. Since the chicken won’t be aware of what you’re about to do, it will be quite unalarmed.
Of course, once it’s caught, the chicken will try to poke its way out. So, make sure to use a fine-mesh net with a sturdy finish. After the chicken has calmed down a bit, grab the whole net along with the chicken as a whole and disentangle it carefully.
Avoid Catching a Chicken Altogether
Now that you know numerous ways about how to catch a chicken- let’s focus a bit more on how you can prevent this ordeal all in all. To be fairly honest, catching a chicken that’s on the loose can be quite a hassle. So, it’s better to take precautions and avoid such situations beforehand.
Secure Your Coop
Coops are essential when it comes to rearing chicken. If the coop is not comfortable enough, your chickens will definitely be on the loose and try to escape.
Make sure to use a solid wood structure with high-grade wires to enclose the area around the coop. Place the pan in an elevated space with enough room according to the number of chickens. Also, try to include roosting bars and designated nesting areas inside the coop, so the chickens have no natural urgency to leave.
Construct the entire coop with brick, wood, or cement blocks. Wrap up the floor with linoleum-covered plywood instead of leaving it as plain dirt. Surround the whole area with secure chicken wire.
Although this might sound cheesy, we cannot stress this enough. As a chicken farmer, it’s mandatory to build up a relationship of trust with your chickens. That way, you won’t have to go through all these ordeals when trying to catch a chicken.
Instead, they will come near you naturally, and you can scoop them up without creating any fear or anxiety in their minds. You can achieve this simply by hand-taming.
Make sure to feed the chicken by hand starting from their chick stage. You can even hold them close to you while providing so that they bond with you more easily.
Summing It All Up
Chickens are the easiest of birds when it comes to rearing. But you need to know how to do it right! If you don’t follow the basic principles of chicken farming, it might turn out to be a nightmare. Otherwise, it can be quite rewarding and soothing as a hobby.
We hope this article on how to catch a chicken was informative enough to help you in your journey as a hobbyist or chicken farmer. Nonetheless, we urge you to take all measures on your chicken farm so you can naturally grab a chicken without having to take such extreme steps. All the best with your endeavors!