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How To Clip Trim The Wings Of Your Chicken To Prevent Flight

Are your hens escaping your yard? You may need to clip their wings. Learn how to safely perform this process and this article.
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    Graphic and text courtesy of "A Guide to Raising Chickens" by Gail Damerow.

    Wing clipping, the most common method of controlling the flight of backyard chickens, involves using sharp shears to cut off the first ten flight feathers of onewing.

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    Clipping causes a bird to lack the balance needed for flight but lasts only until new feathers grow during the next molt, which may be a few months in young birds or up to a year for older ones.

    A potential problem is that clipped feathers may not readily fall out during the molt, requiring your assistance.





    Our wing clipping notes

    Wing clipping doesn't seem to hurt the bird at all, and isn't noticeable when they are walking around. The primary flying feathers are hidden underneath when the wings are folded. Also, the flying feathers are easy to pick out -- often a different color than the rest. Make sure to use a SHARP scissors.

    Here are some pics (before, during and after) of Darla, a Rhode Island Red hen:

    [​IMG] [​IMG][​IMG]

    Read about raising chickens in our chicken forum

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    Amanda16 and Redheadfromga like this.

Comments

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  1. Amanda16
    would this be the same for turkeys, or is there a different method?
  2. Awestruck
    How in the world can you catch the chicken in order to clip its wings? My chickens run away from me and are hard to handle. I tried to tame them when they were young, but they still run away from me? Is there any chance I would cut a blood vessel when clipping the wing feathers?
    1. rdcowman
      What i do is i clip them at night when they go to bed. i take them down from the roosts, clip them and then put them back on the roost.
  3. Johntodd
    OK, my Buff Orp is still able to fly over the 5' fence. She is clipped primary on one side.

    I read something somewhere about clipping secondary flight feathers. Any pointers on that?
    Thanks!
    -Johntodd
  4. Johntodd
    Thanks for the article! We just clipped the wings on our 3 gamefowl. They were all escape artists. Outside the fence are predators, and we didn't want those beautiful birds to get hurt.

    The actual clipping is easy, provided you clip one feather at a time. Use a large pair of new scissors, and you won't have a problem.

    The hardest part, really, is catching them. The 3" gash across my forearm and a red left eye (got clobbered by the rooster's wings) will testify to that.
      Amanda16 likes this.
  5. cynroux
    Wing clipping has opened up our girl's world to the entire backyard, now that they can't hop the 3 and a half foot fence, venture through the woods (which are dark and full of terrors!) and into my neighbors newly mulched garden, which they had been doing with great frequency and testing my neighbor's patience. They spent a few months in "chicken jail" which was boring for them and not great for the particular part of the yard they were sentenced to. A careful, one-wing clip gives them enough power to outrun/flap a potential predator and get to safety, but not enough balance to get past the fence and to the neighbors. Thanks for the information!
      CharleneSusan likes this.
  6. Quilting Hen
    My girls are flying all over the place so I need to clip them but kind of scared to. They have discovered they love the cherries that fall from the tree and are now trying to get up to the ones in the tree and then it is just a short flight over the fence. Thank you for all your help on this site.
  7. Theegoliath
    Thank you for posting this information. We used it along with a you tube video to make the decision to clip our girls wings as well!
    1. sassysarah123
      Haha! That's the video I used!
  8. RedBreasted
    Thanks! This really help my black breasted red old english hen! Even though is a little sad that to the beautiful feathers is gone a little bit.
  9. eggthenoodle
    At what age approx should we clip them?
    I want to do Puossin therefore they will be approx 30 days old.
    I have chickens for eggs as well.
  10. Hooligans7
    LDSB, wing clipping is very quick and easy, especially when you hold the bird upside down, but do you really need to clip them? Perhaps it will become unnecessary if you can wait awhile longer, unless you have lightweight or small breeds (good flyers). I haven't needed to clip any of my chickens' wings for the past year. My BRs and BSLs are too big and heavy to fly up even three feet. Therefore my four-foot vegetable garden fence is working out just fine.

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