17 Effective Ways to Catch or Trap a Chicken
Whether your chickens always make a ninja move when you open the coop, or you’re just looking for some chicken cuddles, these ways on how to catch a chicken save you (and your lungs) from chasing around an escape artist chicken.
Even a Houdini-like hen or rooster is no match against one lightning-fast, unexpected, and effortless technique. Curious if our tricks would work for your runaway?
From a poultry hook to installing an automated door for the nesting boxes, here are 17 ways to catch an escapee chicken.
1. Teach Them Where Home Is
An easy way on how to catch a chicken back in the coop is to make sure he knows where home is. If you teach your chickens to roost in the coop, they will return there every night at sunset.
There are many videos on how to train your chickens to roost in their coop. But this clip is the best:
It’s easiest to teach birds when they are young. It usually takes about two weeks for them to acclimate to where they roost. Once they are adjusted, you can be pretty confident your birds will want to roost in the same spot.
While this won’t help you catch a chicken, it’s a good way to manage his escape tactics.
2. Tempt Them With Yummy Treats
If you don’t want to race around chasing your birds, train your chickens to come to you. How? Of course, with delicious food.
Start by sitting down quietly. Then gently scatter some food, like corn, in front of you. Wait for the chickens to approach. As they come closer, throw more food. Be careful to move slowly! You don’t want to make any sudden movements, or they will get spooked and run away.
You can also use table scraps to trick your chickens to come close to you (1).
Watch how easily Terry lures her chickens with food:
Do this several times. Once chickens get acclaimed with your presence, they won’t consider you a threat but a source for those yummy treats. From that point on, you can scoop the chickens with your hands. This tactic is particularly handy if you want to check your chickens if they have parasites.
3. Use A Chicken Catcher Hook
Sometimes you don’t want to get too close to your chicken, especially if you have an aggressive, territorial rooster in the flock. If that’s your situation right now, using a chicken catcher hook or poultry hook can save you from scratches and bruises.
Poultry hooks are basically a long pole with a small hook on the end. Whenever you have an escapee, you thrust out the rod and latch the hook around the chicken’s ankle. Pull it back and grasp the chicken by its legs. And Viola! You’ve captured the runaway with swift precision while keeping yourself safe at a distance. Plus, the whole process happens in seconds!
Watch how quickly this chicken is hooked:
Don’t worry if your escapee tries to make a fuss. Once you have him upside down, he’ll eventually calm down.
4. Repurpose Your Fishing Net
If you need to catch a chicken in a hurry, you may want to look for a fishing net. Not the flimsy and cheap kind, though. Get a heavy-duty one because an upset runaway chicken will muster up all his strength just to escape your loving arms, and believe us, a poor-quality net is no match when he angrily flaps his wings.
You also want a long pole to keep your distance from the chicken. Just like fishing, you will need to cast the net to catch a chicken. That’s it.
Hold the pole tight because the surprise sneak attack will startle your chicken, causing him to make a fuss and flap his wings.
5. Back Them Into A Corner
You’ve done this before, well, not just for your backyard chickens. Maybe with your dog, cat, or your child who refuses to take a bath. Open space = more room to escape. Limit that, and you can make your entrapment sting less labor-intensive and time-consuming.
One thing to keep in mind: NEVER chase a chicken. Chickens will run, and that’s not what you want.
To catch a chicken with this trick, approach the chicken slowly with your arms out. Guide the chicken where you want it to go, which is into a corner. Once, the chicken is cornered with nowhere to go. Just bend down and pick the chicken up. Remember to keep your hands over their wings to help calm them and prevent them from flapping.
This technique is so easy even a child can do it!
6. Use Snares
If the cornering tactic led to less favorable results, aka your chicken is still roaming around to who knows where. Try the old-school way to catch a chicken- a snare trap. You can make a snare out of all sorts of different materials. But the basic idea is always the same.
You want a piece of string or rope that you can use to create a large loop. You need to tie the loop closed with a slip knot. The slip knot is essential to making a snare. The knot creates a slip noose that will allow the loop to tighten and trap the runaway when the snare is triggered- in this case, your chicken.
Check out this creative chicken snare made out of a tea bottle and a few sticks!
Use some treats or scratch grain to attract the chicken to your snare and wait for the chicken to come. If you have pets, keep them inside the house until you’ve successfully captured the escapee.
7. Catch Them In The Nesting Boxes
One thing great about a laying hen escapee is that she’ll always visit her nest box. All you need is to add an automatic door to the box, and boom! You have the runaway in your arms – finally!
See how it works:
The only downside to this entrapment method is it’s a bit complicated when you have multiple laying hens sharing the same nest boxes. You may trap your obedient, friendly, non-escapee hen while the suspect is still roaming around somewhere.
But it’s great if you have heritage breeds and want to know which egg layers are laying which eggs.
Check out this article to learn more about the best egg-laying chickens.
8. Box ‘Em Up
If you have an old cardboard box, don’t throw it away. It can be a great chicken catcher tool. It also serves as a makeshift carrier when bringing the escapee back to his coop.
The carton box method is a suitable option for trapping and moving a large, aggressive rooster.
You’ll need to corner the rooster first. Once he has no room to run to, carefully lower the box down. The pitch-black darkness will calm your rooster, but it’s always safe to hold the box firmly against the ground.
Then, in one swift motion, flip the box over and close it. Now you can safely move your chicken.
There are other creative ways you can make a bird trap from a carton. One example is the video above.
9. Sneak Up From Behind
It’s always best to try and pick your chicken up from behind. If you head straight towards your chicken, it is going to run. Always!
Be quiet and make slow movements as you creep up behind your hen. You should also position your body lower to the ground – it’s easier to scoop her up.
If she turns around, FREEZE and stay still. Only continue once if she turns her back. Once you’re close, swoop in, and voila! Congratulations, you’ve finally captured the runaway!
10. Try A Bird Crate
If you have time to spare, try the bird crate tactic. For this method, you’ll need a bird crate (duh), a rope, and some treats. Tie a string on the door and put the snacks inside the cage.
The idea is the food will lure the runaway chicken into the cage. Once the hen is enjoying her meal (inside the crate), pull the string, and the door closes.
Obviously, you will need to be there to pull the rope. If you like the idea but don’t have the time, you might be more interested in the chicken trap, which we will discuss later.
11. Ask Fido For Help
Shepherd breeds, for instance, are highly trainable dogs for herding livestock – like sheep. But, you’ll need to train your dog young. Slowly expose Fido around chicks so that he won’t get too excited.
With time and patience, your puppy can learn how to behave around chicks and adult chickens.
12. Create A Smaller Floor Space
Limit the chicken coop area, the chickens will have less room to manoeuver. You can divide a section of your coop with chicken wire. Then drive your chickens to that area.
Or you can try something creative and wild like this escape-proof coop:
By creating a small space right outside the door, he can easily corner any chicken that tries to escape.
13. Follow The Leader
Trying to catch the whole flock? Capture the rooster first. Chickens have a distinct hierarchy called the pecking order. They will follow the leader, which is the rooster (2).
“The chicken at the top of pecking order has a special role to play in the flock. Because they are so strong and healthy, it’s their responsibility to keep constant watch for predators and usher the others to safety when a circling hawk appears or a strange rustling is heard in the bushes nearby.”
If you catch the rooster and put him back in the coop, other chickens will follow him of their own accord. Be careful when trying to approach your rooster because he can be aggressive and injure you if you aren’t careful.
If you have a rooster you need to tame, check out this video for some great tips:
14. Catch Them When They Roost
How to catch a chicken with minimal effort and time requirement on your part? Here is one – wait until nighttime. We know it sounds crazy – who would attempt to capture a chicken at night, right? But, we would.
Remember, chickens roost at night and can’t see very well in the dark (3). So, this nighttime attack is just the perfect opportunity to catch your escape artist. Don’t worry. If you wake him up, he won’t make a fuss. He is most likely very confused.
First, find out where his favorite outdoor perching spots are. Once it is sleeping, grab a flashlight and carefully sneak up on it. Quickly reach out and grab the wayward chicken and bring it back where it belongs – among the flock and not out in the open in your yard.
15. Give A Chicken Trap A Chance
Remember, we mentioned there’s another way to trap a chicken in a cage? This is it. Instead of hanging for hours in the yard waiting for the escape artist to take the bait, having a chicken trap will do the hard work for you.
A chicken trap has a one-way door. The chickens can get in, but they can’t get back out again. Just make sure you check on your trap regularly to see if you have caught any chickens.
16. Don’t Do It Alone
Catching a chicken alone is a difficult task even if you are using the techniques we’ve discussed. So, pick-up your phone and ask your friends and family to come over and finally capture the runway. Shoulder to shoulder and hand in hand, you can work on a plan to corral the chicken.
You can also cover more ground with more people if the chicken decides to make a mad dash in a random direction.
17. Reinforce Your Chicken Coop
Really the best thing is you never have to catch your chickens. You can do this by making sure you build a secure chicken coop. Closing off a space with chicken wire is not enough. Make sure the coop is locked down tight.
It also helps if your chickens like their coop. If you build them a chicken mansion with a dirt floor, chances are you won’t need to worry about the different methods for catching chickens. Your chickens will be content to hang out in the coop all day.
People use many different methods to build chicken coops. Check out this deluxe chicken coop that has everything a chicken could want and more.
If you want to update your chicken coop, check out this article to find the best chicken coop for your flock.
Yes, a chicken can find its way home. They use an instinct called magnetoreception to help them. Magnetoreception allows chickens, and other migratory animals, to use the Earth’s magnetic field to help them navigate. It is similar to how pigeons and other birds find their way home.
A chicken’s age will affect its ability to find its way home. Older chickens are better at it than younger chickens. Older chickens also recognize landmarks rather than depending solely on magnetoreception.
Chickens generally don’t go more than 300 yards from the coop. Even if your chickens have acres to free-range, you will find they don’t like to go far from where they know they will find food and shelter. They will roam further if they are looking for food to forage.
Even if your chickens roam, they should come home to roost at night.
The best way to hold a chicken is to use both hands to keep her wings close to her body. Once you have the hen in your hands, bring her close to your body. Keep one hand on your chicken and use the other hand to gently stroke her, making sure she is calm or to examine her.
- Feeding Your Chickens Table Scraps. Retrieved from: https://blog.mcmurrayhatchery.com/2015/05/25/feeding-your-chickens-table
- The Secrets of Chicken Flocks’ Pecking Order. Retrieved from: https://modernfarmer.com/2016/03/pecking-order/
- Chicken Vision. Retrieved from: https://mikethechickenvet.wordpress.com/2012/03/30/chicken-vision/
Rachael and her husband arrived on Isla de Ometepe, Nicaragua in 2011. There they founded El Jardin de la Vida, a tropical micro food forest, focusing on Sustainable Living Education. She teaches others to build with natural materials, live off-grid, and appreciate slow food.