|John : I was talking to an Amish man about chickens at a Saturday auction and he asked me if I knew how to put a chicken to sleep. I said no, of course. He picked up a chicken, put it's head underneath one of its wings, then held the chicken with both hands, making sure the head was kept under the wing. Then he moved the chicken in a wide figure 8 motion in front of him - just swinging it back and forth 3-4 times. Then he put the chicken on the ground, still with its head under the wing. It just laid there, motionless. After a minute or so, he lifted the wing, the chicken woke up, stood up, and was completely awake. I tried it with one of my chickens when I got home, with the same result.|
This might actually be helpful if you want to work on the chicken's foot, or examine it for mites, etc. And, of course, it's fun. I'm curious if you've heard of this before. And, while I doubt that this harms the chicken in any way, if it is harmful, I'd like to know.
There are a few variations to this including laying the chicken down and drawing circles in the air with your finger over it or repeatedly drawing a line on the floor away from the beak. 'Hypnotised' chickens seem to wake up quite easily if touched but perhaps it could be helpful to have them keep still like this if you need to look at something (especially if you have a real squirmer). I haven't heard that it is harmful, but I did have a subscriber tip in the latest newsletter which mentioned chickens (and birds in general) way of breathing is using air sacs and so to be careful not to hold them too tightly around the body. On the BBC's 'Autumnwatch' Martin Hughes-Games gave the explanation that it is a natural protection from attacks (i.e. a fox would think they were already dead and leave them be).
There are several variations on how to 'hypnotise' a chicken - here is one method :