It is now well accepted that exposure to adverse environmental conditions in utero can predispose a fetus to disease later in life. Using an avian model to study the programming of disease has a unique advantage as it allows isolation of the direct effects of adverse conditions on fetal physiology, without any confounding effects via the mother or placenta. However, experiments in avian models are limited by the lack of well-established surgical protocols for the adult bird, which we have established in this study. Surgery was performed on seven young adult Bovan Brown chickens (body weight 1617±214 g, mean±s.d.) in order to instrument them with femoral arterial and venous catheters and a femoral arterial flow probe. Isoflurane and lidocaine were both found to have depressive effects on chicken cardiovascular function. Optimised methods of anaesthesia, intraoperative monitoring, surgical approach, postoperative care, and experimentation are described. Chickens recovered rapidly from surgery without significant blood gas perturbation, and basal in vivo cardiovascular studies were performed following 5 days of recovery. These techniques allow detailed investigation of avian cardiometabolic function, permitting determination of the consequences in later life of direct environmental insults to fetal physiology, isolated from additional effects on maternal physiology and/or placental endocrinology.