Clipping a chicken’s wings

Leghorns can be 'flighty'
Leghorns can be ‘flighty’

Clipping a chicken’s wings is normally not something that is required, but it is something that comes in very handy at times.  It will not hurt the chicken if it is done correctly, and it’s a bit like cutting our nails and takes just a minute to do.

Chickens do not fly, well not like a bird anyway.  However, they can use their wings to help them gain height in order to climb up onto fences and garden furniture.  A typical chicken could probably easily deal with a fence of about 5ft high without her wings clipped.  Some more flighty breeds, such as a leghorn, could easily deal with higher.  Note that, if the chicken run has a roof then wing clipping won’t be needed no matter how flighty the chicken is.

After a chickens wings are clipped, they usually cannot scale much over 3 ft.

Here is the process we use at Farm Fowl

  • A good sharp scissors is required.
  • It is very important that just one wing is clipped as the intention is to put the bird off balance.  Clipping tow wings defeats the purpose.
  • Spread the wing out with the aid of a helper if required.
  • Trim the first 10 primary flight feathers.  These are the longest feathers at the tip of the wing.  See the diagram below.

If you are not comfortable with doing this yourself, ask someone with more experience to do it for you.  If you are buying hens from us here, Caroline or I will happily do this for you.

Clipping a chickens wing

I’ve seen chicken wing clipping done in lots of different ways, but none are as effective as this method.  It’s simple and painless to the chicken.  It may need to be done yearly, a week or two have the chicken has moulted.

It is also very handy method to stop chickens flying out of a safe pen or to prevent them getting in to the prized flower bed!

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