We have an out of town visitor in our house! Visitors are always fun. And sometimes they point out the obvious. In this case, the obvious is that there are many ways to catch a chicken.
My husband goes about it very carefully. He is extremely concerned about hurting the chicken. He finds the chicken and stares at it, trying to determine the best way to catch it without bothering it. This, of course, makes the chicken nervous. So the chicken starts walking around, invariably taking itself to somewhere less accessible. So my husband follows it, trying to shoo it back where it will be easy to catch. The chicken is now way past nervous and into annoyed, and it takes off to the top of the chicken coop. My huband gets the broom. The chicken squawks and yells and my husband uses the broom to push the chicken off the top of the coop. The chicken runs out of the run and hides beside the rabbit hutch. Etc.
On the other hand, I know that chickens are tougher than they look. It is possible for a human to hurt a chicken, but it’s not that common. The chickens we were looking for tonight had decided to roost in the trees instead of the coop, and were therefore above our heads but thankfully not out of arm’s reach. So I find the chicken and grab its legs with one hand, and pull it close to my body and use the other hand to tuck its wings in. Once its legs and wings are secure, the chicken instantly calms down and I can carry it to where ever it needs to be (in this case, into the coop).
If the chicken is on the ground, sometimes the easiest way to catch it is to use one hand to press the shoulders of the chicken toward the ground. Pressing hard enough to keep the chicken from moving, but not so hard to wrench anything. Then use the other hand to scoop it up from the ground, supporting the legs.
Of course if the chicken is asleep it’s easiest of all. Just walk up to the chicken and pick it up! I’ve picked up and carried sleeping chickens without ever waking them up. (Incidentally, this is why it’s so easy for a predator to wipe out a chicken flock at night – they just don’t wake up to sound any sort of alarm to the others.) When they are asleep its usually easiest to use both hands to pick it up around the body. If it is above my head I’ve had success in putting my hand between the chicken’s body and whatever it is roosting on, and lifting it down. When they are asleep is the absolute ideal time to catch chickens.
I do have a net, but haven’t had to use it yet. I don’t think I’ll have to bring the net out unless I need to catch a loose chicken in the yard in the middle of the day.
Of course this friend was heckling my husband about his way of (not) catching the chicken. Then he didn’t want to pet it! Guess our talking about chickens really being small velociraptors has made an impact. He eventally touched one on the shoulders and admitted it was pretty cool. But even that took some convincing!
What’s your preferred way to catch a chicken that has gotten into a place it shouldn’t be?