Best Way to Catch a Chicken

If you’ve ever had to catch a chicken you know it’s not an easy task. Here’s the Simple Way

You probably already know a chicken can run faster than a human, so chasing a bird around like a maniac is going to get you absolutely nowhere. To make it even more difficult, chickens are smart, so any device you’ve used before such as a pole or net, is something they’ll remember immediately, and run.
There’s a simple answer to catching a chicken, the only drawback is you’re going to have to work at night. Wait until your chickens have gone to roost for the evening. Enter the coop wearing a headlamp (keep the beam of light pointed at the ground) hover over the bird and place both hands over the wings so the bird can’t flap around. Then gently remove chicken from the perch. You can wrap a towel around the bird if you’ll be treating medically, or if you just want a bit more security, especially if your handling a rooster.

Chickens are happiest when they’re in a comfortable and predictable environment.  If one of your birds has escaped from the coop, chickens enjoy their freedom for awhile. However, come sundown they will return to the safety of the coop to roost for the night. The rest of the flock will rarely leave the coop at dusk, so it’s a good bet you’re safe to open the coop door for your escapees return.

Remain calm and unhurried, a chicken will easily pick up on your anxiety. You don’t want the bird to be reluctant or fearful to return to the coop. A sparse trail of scratch leading  into the coop might add a bit of helpful incentive.  Keep your distance from the coop door, wait for the bird to join the flock, then approach the coop to close the door.

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Chicken Behavior at Night

Chickens are active and full of personality by day… then when the sun goes down they turn in to a total milk dud. I don’t understand the reason for this zombie-like behavior, except maybe as an asset to chicken keepers.


Chickens have a strong homing instinct which drives them to return to the same place to roost at dusk. Because of that homing instinct, once chickens have spent a few nights in the coop provided for them, they will continue to return there night after night. However, it is not uncommon to have one or even a few that insist on choosing another place to roost, such as a tree limb, roof, or fence. If this occurs, you can place them in the coop by hand. It may take a week or so before they figure out where home is supposed to be. But with a little persistence on your part, they all do. So, yes, chickens are trainable.

A chicken’s night behavior is indeed weird,  but if you’re smart you can certainly use it to your advantage. Night is the best time to handle, inspect, and doctor chickens. Especially the ones that are difficult or impossible to catch during the day. Every flock has a few birds that are feisty and full attitude, don’t sweat it… they all turn into a sac of potatoes when the sun goes down.

Even if you sneak a new bird in the coop after dark, it will most likely go unnoticed until morning. Some chicken keepers choose to introduce birds this way. However, I must warn you, a chicken’s night stupor disappears the moment they march out of the coop at the crack of dawn. Then it’s a whole new ball game of unkind introductions!

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