How to catch a cockerel

Midday chicken chores have me and the little girls running from one side of the yard to the other with water, food, and entertainment a few times a day.  We fill up the food for the broiler chicks, who are doing really well in their bigger pen.  I haul water, refill and clean waterers, and my three-year old pokes sticks and weeds into the fencing, for her entertainment and theirs. Today, however, we had an escape!IMG_3088

“The Boys” are fenced in a great setup that Brian created from found materials on the farm and they have an open run which we were a little wary to open up for them because of the threat of predators. But, they have no roof over the run. All the boys looked great this morning and at my midday check I counted all the beaks.  All accounted for! Great, onto the next coop, I said to the three-year old, and then we stepped away. Then a thunderous flapping of wings had us running for the woods.  A handful of cockerels attempted to fly and the darkest, blackest rooster was heading straight for me!  Up he flew over the fence, clearing a six foot fence and my head easily.

the escape artist, the black one, dead center

Happily he trotted around and pecked and scratched in the brand new world he had discovered. But, this was only for a minute, as my daughter and I started to scramble and shoo him in the right direction near his brothers.  Then he ran up into the fencing clucking and talking as if to say, “Wait! How do I get with you guys!?” Poor thing started running (can chickens run? YOU BETCHA!) along the fence and stressing out that he was out and everyone else was in, I started strategizing. The three-year old was my blocker, she scrambled to the farthest part of the fencing that he could see, and I was the gatekeeper to the door of the run.   We got low and talked to him, goaded him, tried to ensnare him between ferns and branches and a bucket. In the end, he actually worked his way to the front of the coop and I lifted the door and he bolted inside, my daughter and I shielded any other open pathways with our bodies. We were all relieved and walked away accomplished and happier. He was cheerful too.

If you ever find yourselves in the same predicament of a chicken or rooster on the loose, here are some tips:

  • Approach the chicken slowly and from behind
    I am so glad my daughter has been raised around chickens, she understands that running and chasing them stresses them out even more.  When we saw he was out, we both got low and moved slowly and deliberately.
  • Grasp the chicken on either side covering its wings and hold it close to your body.
  • If ask else fails, you could try a poultry hook. We actually have no experience with these, probably because our flocks have been so small or contained. But many swear by them.
  • Catch them at night when they are sleepy.

Good luck!  Hope your chickens have the freedom they need but not so much that they get separated from their flock!