Haven’t you always wanted to be able to hypnotise a hen? Of course you have.
A few days ago, we went to visit a friend in the country. She took us to see one of her friends, Eileen, who has a fantastic garden (bananas in Tasmania!) and breeds chickens.
Eileen had some tiny hatchling chicks in the kitchen, keeping warm and sheltered under a heat lamp. She took one out of the box and placed it on its back, holding the wings and stroking the beak. She slowly released her grip. The chick was completely still. Amazing! Of course, I wanted to try. It worked.
Chickens do not sleep lying down, they sleep sitting on a perch, with their head tucked under a wing. It was not asleep, just motionless and quite relaxed.
Eileen offered to show me how it was done on a grown chicken. She is a born teacher. I went home with my new skill, eager to try it out on my own hens. I’d have to admit that I wasn’t sure if it would work – Eileen’s chickens were used to being hypnotised. Perhaps mine would just laugh at me?
I tried it on one of the little Silkie Bantams. I cunningly lured her with some bread and caught her easily, they are very tame. I don’t recommend that you try this on a chicken that is not used to being handled, as they will find being chased and caught stressful. I turned her over, keeping a firm but gentle grip on the wings and placed her flat on her back on the ground, still holding her. I then stroked her beak downwards gently and she very quickly became calm and quiet. I let go and she stayed motionless on her back on the ground until I picked her up again. She didn’t seem too concerned and quickly settled to eating her piece of bread. Here is the video showing how it is done.
It’s definitely useful for checking your hens’ feet and keeping them used to being handled. It’s also an interesting quirk of animal behaviour. Why do they become motionless in such an unnatural position? Why are they perfectly calm and seem unstressed? They can right themselves if they wish, as seen in the video, so they are not paralysed. Very strange and fascinating. Be amazed!