Introduction: How to Hypnotize a Chicken

Picture of How to Hypnotize a Chicken

Why, you may ask, would one WANT to hypnotize a chicken?  You, sir or madam, are asking the wrong question.  The answer to that one is of course, "Why wouldn't you want to hypnotize a chicken!?"  The interrobang is required in that sentence.

The correct question is "How can I be a part of this grand experiment?"  The answer, my friends, is contained herein.  

First, a video demonstration:

Step 1: Gather Materials

Picture of Gather Materials

To explore this bizarre phenomenon, you will need:
  1. A chicken
  2. A stick
  3. Some help, as this is a two person job
  4. Some drinks wouldn't hurt, and would probably add to your enjoyment of the next step.

Step 2: Catch a Chicken

Picture of Catch a Chicken

My brother keeps a few hens, but this turned out to be more difficult than I imagined.  After spending half an hour alternately running and sneaking around his yard, making weird little cooing noises at these ridiculous birds, we were flummoxed.  Eventually, Ted lured them back into the coop with food and then reached in through the back door to grab one by the legs.  Why didn't he do this the first time, before releasing them?  I do not know.

Step 3: Lay the Chicken on Its Side

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Hold the chicken on its side in a bare patch of dirt.  The important part here is to hold its head down to the ground.

Step 4: Draw a Line

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Making quick movements with a small twig, draw a line about a foot long away from the chicken's head.

Step 5: Observe in Awe!

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If all has gone well, the chicken will remain staring at the line for 15-30 seconds!  Voila, you have hypnotized a chicken!

Step 6: Wait, What Just Happened?

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Well, I'm not exactly sure.  I am no biologist.  According to the wikipedia page on chicken hypnotism, this is a similar phenomenon to a deer freezing when hit by a strong beam of light; it's an attempt to avoid a predator by pretending to be dead.  I suspect that's right, chickens are both extremely stupid and very skittish, so this sort of massive overreaction just seems in line with my (admittedly limited) experience with chickens.

Step 7: Final Thoughts

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Thanks for taking the time to read about my exploits.

I had seen a video about this on youtube about a year ago, and my brother and I have been talking about seeing if it is real ever since.  We took the time this weekend to find out, and lo and behold, it was true!  

Have you ever hypnotized a chicken?  If so, post a video link in the comments below so we can see, and I'll send you an electronic patch for your profile!

Please take a minute to rate, subscribe, comment and follow me on facebook, I love hearing back from people and I've always got lots more in the works!

**** Update 4/6/12:  Thanks to everyone who's mentioned in the comments that this brings back fond memories of childhood or farm life!  I'm glad my humble little instructable could spark recollections of good times.


Michael_Bell (author)2012-04-08
Sorry about the bad quality, Also it would be useful to have a second person to hold the camera
depotdevoid (author)Michael_Bell2012-04-08

Nice! Thanks for sharing, patch is on the way!

Jayden S.B (author)2015-12-25

I understand that this was made forever ago, but I would like to point out that you were slightly cruel to the chicken. I am not criticizing, but I love animals. Chickens are fairly dumb, and that is the way they are usually treated. Very nice instructable!

Barbara Pevafersa (author)2015-01-19

my friend does this on his farm all the time!

curly gurly (author)2015-01-13

I've done it before, but you don't need a stick, you can just use your finger.

pmuhammad dwi (author)2013-08-23

try flip their head between one of their wings...
then hold your chicken by both hands in both side of their wings which still flip their head, and move it gently around...

sorry for bad english :D

Dang, I'd love to try that, but my brother finally got rid of all his chickens!

fancypants23 (author)2013-07-18

well il be blanged, you actually can hypnotize a chicken!

fastrat2000 (author)2013-03-17

I use to do some thing like this as kid, its not hard, we flip the chicken over then take finger point at the chicken and move it in and out, you want chicken to look at it, move in so it cross its eyes this seems short something out in its head and it start closing its eyes if get your finger in right spot for bit ( that sounds bad) it will fall a sleep, lay it on ground and it stay for some time or someone or something make loud sound or moves it

pocketxgirl (author)2012-04-13

I just wanted to say that I have chickens and they're actually pretty smart. I don't know if it's the particular breeds that I have (Modern Game BBs, Americaunas, Cochins, Buttercups, Silkies), but they all know their names, come when you call them, and go into the coops when you tell them it's "time for bed."

Of course, we DID hand raise them with tons of human interaction, so maybe that's it. And please don't flame me, I'm sure there are some really stupid ones, too. I'm just saying that they aren't all idiots. :)

NAiMA79 (author)pocketxgirl2012-08-31

no it's true, they are smart indeed! a friend of mine used to keep one as a pet and the hen acted just like a dog, waiting for him, calling for him and following him around, responsively playing and constantly interacting with him and his family! the chicken could even find its way home from non-familiar premises: it used to follow the guy around when he was walking around the block and when the chicken got tired he made its way home alone, ha! :D i have no idea which breed could that chicken belong to though.

depotdevoid (author)pocketxgirl2012-04-13

I believe the varieties my brother keeps are Leghorns and Americanas, I don't know how they stack up as far as smarts.

I bet you're right though, all that human interaction must make a big difference. Ted's chickens are out in the yard with the family all the time, but they don't interact with them like pets or anything. They do chase the cat a lot, he's terrified of them!

And hey, no flames here! Expressing your opinion rationally, reasonably, and politely (as you've done) is always encouraged in my comments sections. My personal experience with chickens is pretty limited, I only have my brother's chickens and hearsay to go on.

1000% (author)depotdevoid2012-06-29

I did the same thing with a Guinea baby not to be confused with guinea pigs

Knex.X (author)2012-05-04

Does roasted chicken count too?

depotdevoid (author)Knex.X2012-05-04

Not too much of a challenge to get that to sit still . . .

sdhardie (author)2012-04-05

What you're actually doing is sending the poor thing into a panic. It thinks it's going to die, so its body begins producing stress chemicals to dull the impending pain. This is a really horrible Instructable. Not funny at all.

Hangfire (author)sdhardie2012-04-05

Vegetarian much?

sdhardie (author)Hangfire2012-04-05

No, but what on earth does that have to do with anything? I just don't think scaring innocent animals to the point that they think they are going to die is something that should be featured on Instructables. Chickens are really fun to have around for a lot of reasons, but scaring them half to death shouldn't be one of them.

depotdevoid (author)sdhardie2012-04-05

Actually, this is one of a number of chicken hypnotism techniques used to calm a chicken prior to killing it--this causes the chicken to calm down, which both prevents the release of stress hormones that can cause the meat to have a bad texture or taste, and makes it easier to have a quick, clean kill without undue pain to the bird in question.

Here's a link, all you've ever wanted to know about calming, killing, and butchering a chicken:

sdhardie, believe me when I say I looked into this before I released it into the wilds of the internet.  If I thought I was putting out something that would cause a lot of pain and suffering, I never would have posted it.

Also, Hangfire, just because someone objects to what they perceive as cruelty to animals, it doesn't mean they're a vegetarian.  I eat plenty of meat but I don't like the idea of causing another living being to suffer more then required to get it onto my plate.  It's one of those stereotypes that holds true just often enough to keep it alive, and makes it difficult for those of us who hold a middle ground position to engage in polite discourse on the subject.

baconvein (author)depotdevoid2012-04-24

Just by reading your comment I can tell you are a force of positivity in the world, keep it up brotha!

K4nyix (author)depotdevoid2012-04-10

Sensible people are so scarce these days... Dude, you're one in a million, this is amazing.

Chakazuluu (author)sdhardie2012-04-05

Ok, so were did you get your information about scaring chickens to death? Is there some sort of scientific fact involved or is this something that popped in yo head?

effiesque (author)2012-04-21

Oh dear. Poor chicken haha.
It makes me wonder, who spent the time to figure this out? Or rather, who stumbled on it....

depotdevoid (author)effiesque2012-04-21

I have a sneaking suspicion this has been going on since about a week after the first chicken was domesticated!

effiesque (author)depotdevoid2012-04-21

Could have been the week before.... Had to get the eggs/ chicks somehow!

effiesque (author)effiesque2012-04-21

Scratch that. Everyone likes a good chicken dinner....

jamesvs400a (author)2012-04-08

when I was a kid I had a favourite chicken. she would come up to me and peck me on the leg until I gave her some food. :P she would eat out of my hand n everything.

poor thing was murdered by a fox :'( if you do get chickens then get only hens because roosters are noisy and fight. also keep them out of gardens ;)

WColeman (author)2012-04-07

I used to hypnotize our chickens by simply laying them on their backs then stroking their fronts with two fingers. Didn't always work but when it did, it worked well. I have "hypnotized" a chicken for over 3 minutes that way.

Chakazuluu (author)2012-04-05

When I was a teenager (I'm 70 now) I use to do this on my Uncle's farm and all the farm kids thought I was some sort of wizard. Actually I didn't find it difficult to do by myself. I just caught the chicken and held it's beak perpendicular to the ground and drew the line with my finger and the chicken was thereby frozen in time.

depotdevoid (author)Chakazuluu2012-04-05

I suspect it's a two person job only if you're like me and not very experienced with chickens!

It really does look like magic the first time you see it. I thought the first video I saw was some sort of hoax, until I started looking into the matter.

stoobers (author)depotdevoid2012-04-05

Perhaps it is the chickens not experienced with you!

I had a pet hen (Mrs. Personality) when I was growing up, and it would just walk up to you and wait for petting or food. I used to sit in a tree and the bird would fly up and sit next to me.

Maybe start with a chicken that is placid, instead of one of those crazy chickens that runs around all over the place.

I never tried to hypnotize it. Had I only known...

depotdevoid (author)stoobers2012-04-05

That's neat, I've heard that people keep chickens as pets. My brother keeps his just for the eggs, so they're not very socialized!

$tarbucks (author)depotdevoid2012-04-06

When I saw the clip I thought it was like when some of us were kids and you take deep breaths and some one holds you up from behind to stop you from breathing and you blackout. Now they say that is dangerous for people so what is it doing to the chicken. If you intend to give it a normal life with all it's brain cells I would not do that if I were you.

Chakazuluu (author)depotdevoid2012-04-05

My cousin had a pet rooster back in the 70's and if you even looked like you was going to hurt my cousin the rooster would fly at you and try to claw your face up.

Luby (author)Chakazuluu2012-04-06

We had chicken when I was young. One of the two roosters was my "friend". He would crow, when I asked him to, while I was holding him. He would try to fight with the other one on my command and couldn't, because they were both tied to thin topes, so they could not reach each other. And the funniest to me was when I asked/told him to run and get a chick (I'd pick one which was just close enough, but still not) and he would run and fall down flat, because the rope would end and trip him. What a meanie I was, eh?

depotdevoid (author)Chakazuluu2012-04-05

That's awesome, I'd like to have a guard chicken.

Chakazuluu (author)stoobers2012-04-05

Actually I expect that if you are not experienced with chickens and a bit timid or intimidated by the idea of catching one you might need a second individual.

My Aunt would say "go catch me a chicken boy" and I would catch it , she would chop it's head off on a chopping block with a hatchet and the chicken would run around headless, slinging blood all over the place 'till it keeled over dead. So I guess I did have a bit of experience dealing with chickens.

Biotele (author)Chakazuluu2012-04-05

The first time I saw that I was five. It marked me for years as being one the greatest mysteries in life. How does a chicken run without a head. I got the answer 20 years later when I was doing a neuroscience experiment and I learned that locomotion is controlled by the spine and not the brain.

Wazzupdoc (author)Chakazuluu2012-04-05

Sweet! My Grandma hung the bird by the feet from the clothesline in the back yard and used kitchen shears to take off the head. They almost always fell off the line and ran around like...well, you know! Thanks for the memories!

Wazzupdoc (author)Chakazuluu2012-04-05

You ARE a wizard, man!

Chakazuluu (author)2012-04-06

I just remembered something about hypnotizing rabbits. It has been a long time from my childhood when I use to do this but I think what we did was hold a rabbit by it's hind legs and flip it over 360 degrees and then you could lay it down carefully and slowly and would be hypnotized. I am pretty sure that is the way we did it.

depotdevoid (author)Chakazuluu2012-04-06

Hey cool, I found a video!

Chakazuluu (author)depotdevoid2012-04-06

Wow!! That was a trip. Not the way i did it i'm sure. but that was cool...

Professor-Mousedude (author)2012-04-05

It's a defense mechanism called "Tonic immobility", commonly known as "playing dead". Many animals do this when they think they are in danger, especially animals that rely on camouflage.

Drawing lines near the face isn't necessary, just holding it down is usually enough, but placing a pointy stick near it's face like that probably helps to increase the stress levels.

The more times you do this the less effective it becomes, as the bird learns it is in no actual danger. Very tame birds that have been handled since birth are not as easily immobilized.

Hmm..that is interesting I just went to Wikipedia and read up on that and found a great deal of info on "Tonic Immobility" - thanks for the info..

That's pretty interesting, I didn't think about how a really tame bird might react. It would know everything's fine and not freeze up, fascinating!

mikeasaurus (author)2012-04-01

Please show the next video where you've attached frickin' laserbeams to their heads while they are hypnotized.

Pfarmkid (author)mikeasaurus2012-04-06

I used to get our chickens to chase a laser if you did this to the whole flock it could be so funny

depotdevoid (author)mikeasaurus2012-04-02

Hmmm . . . I shall have to stroke my goatee evilly for a while and consider this . . .

Pfarmkid (author)2012-04-06

yeah sure. ok come on its just a chicken do you feel demonic when you eat a mcnugget i doubt it.

About This Instructable




Bio: depotdevoid is short for The Depot Devoid of Thought, the place where you go when you lose your train of thought and you're waiting ... More »
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