A chicken can be hypnotized, or put into a trance, by holding its head down against the ground, and continuously drawing a line along the ground with a stick or a finger, starting at its beak and extending straight outward in front of the chicken. If the chicken is hypnotized in this manner, it will remain immobile for somewhere between 15 seconds and 30 minutes, continuing to stare at the line.


This may not be clinical hypnosis, but instead a case of tonic immobility. Instead of a hypnotic state, the chicken's reactions are more akin to a turtle moving into its shell, or a deer freezing from a spotlight--a defensive mechanism intended to feign death, albeit poorly. [1]

This technique is useful for farmers who need to slaughter a chicken and do not have help immediately available. The first known written reference for this method came in 1646, in Mirabile Experimentum de Imaginatione Gallinae by Athanasius Kircher.

Another technique of hypnosis is to hold the chicken face up with its back on the ground, and then run your finger vertically downwards from the chicken's wattles to just above its vent. The chicken's feet are exposed, which allows easy application of medication for foot mites, etc. To wake up the chicken, clap your hands or give the chicken a gentle shove.

One can also hypnotize a chicken by mimicking how it sleeps - with its head under its wing. In this method, you hold the bird firmly, placing its head under its wing, then, gently rock the chicken back and forth and set it very carefully on the ground. It should stay in the same position for about 30 seconds. [2]

H B Gibson, in his book Hypnosis - its Nature and Therapeutic Uses, states that the record period for a chicken remaining in hypnosis is 3 hours 47 minutes. [3]

Notable people who have discussed chicken hypnotismEdit

  • Helmut Kohl, German statesman. Herr Kohl's preferred method seems to be similar to that used by Werner Herzog, he used "a line drawn by chalk" . (Stern magazine, 13 September 1996)
  • Al Gore, former U.S. vice-president, Nobel peace prize winner and ex-presidential candidate. Mr. Gore appears to have used a non-orthodox technique, consisting of drawing imaginary circles around the chicken's head.[4]
  • Steve Fairnie, 1980s British musician: "You have to dominate the chicken and be right above it staring into its eyes. Then it will either go under or it will attack you, so you have to be a bit careful..."[5] (Fan-club magazine, 1983)
  • Adam Savage, in the Mythbusters Revealed special is briefly seen hypnotising a chicken.
  • In an interview with Will Smith during taping of The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, Smith discussed how he raised chickens as a boy and was fascinated by putting one of his chickens into hypnosis.

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