How to Mark Chickens

Nicole Schmoll

When you raise chickens at home or on a small farm, one of the hardest things is to keep up with their broods. New chicks come fast, and you need to mark them to distinguish one generation of chicks from another so that you can quickly discern their age and which hens they were produced by. Small, flexible, colored leg bands are the quickest and easiest way to mark chickens so that you can easily tell them apart.

Learn how to mark your chickens easily.
  1. Purchase leg bands in four to five sizes to fit onto your chickens depending on their size and age. Select a color strategy based on the hens producing chicks for you. Purchase leg bands in the sizes you need in up to nine unique colors.

  2. Assign a color to each hen producing chicks by marking them with specific colored leg bands that measure nine-sixteenth of an inch in diameter. Slide the flexible rubber band over the chicken's foot and around its leg. Alternatively, if you select spiral leg bands, pull the ends of the band apart, position the chicken's leg inside the band and snap the band shut around the chicken's leg.

  3. Place the smallest size leg band, one-quarter inch in diameter, on the left leg of newly hatched baby chicks. Remove the bands when chicks turn 1 month old, replacing them with bands of the same color that are three-eighths of an inch in diameter.

  4. Watch the chicks and replace the bands with larger, seven-sixteenths inch diameter bands when the smaller ones break off on their own accord due to the chicks' growing leg size and frame. Replace those bands again with larger, nine-sixteenths inch diameter bands, in the same color, when the chickens reach maturity, if you are keeping them through adulthood and desire to have them marked as a group.