Abstract Handling, in the context of this review, is the process whereby birds are removed from a building to a truck and, after transportation, from a truck to a building. The procedure includes collection, carrying to the transport vehicle, containerization (i.e. usually placing in crates) and loading onto the transporter. In general, most of these processes are carried out manually. Handling of poultry has been shown to be a potential cause of injury and, in addition, birds find human contact aversive. If mechanical devices could be developed that handled birds gently, close human contact could be reduced and there would be a potential to improve bird welfare. Several patented devices are discussed. The use of physiological and stress indicators in the evaluation of mechanical systems being developed can help to ensure that when brought into commercial use, bird welfare is not compromised during handling.