Chickens testing their wings

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by mizz9, Oct 20, 2016.

  1. mizz9

    mizz9 Chirping

    Jun 22, 2016
    Silicon Valley Area, CA
    Hi all, hoping you have some advice.

    I have 3 chickens that are about 22 wks old/5 months old. They have been happily free ranging in our back yard. We have 5-6" wood fence all the way around our yard. Our back yard is a pretty good size for being in the city, about 2000-3000 sqft? And there is lots of fun grass/dirt/plants/mulch for the chickens to enjoy.

    Suddenly the other day I heard a commotion outside and ran out to discover 2 of them were on top of the fence checking out the neighbor's yard! I ran to get some mealworms and called them back and they came flying/running back to me in the yard. We promptly decided to clip one wing on each chicken. Which seemed to work for 5-6 days. Yesterday afternoon I heard a commotion, and one chicken was up in one of our trees!! About 5-6" off the ground right next to the fence. So I shooed her back down. All 3 chickens were NOT happy with me, and vocalized and squabbled a LOT about that one, lol.

    In your experience do you think the girls will get heavier and this will be less of a problem as they put on more weight? Should I clip their 2nd wing too? It was my first time clipping chicken wings but I am a long time indoor parrot/cockatiel owner so I am experienced with wing clipping so I know how to do it. They look pretty fat right now and their clipped wing is comically small in proportion to their bodies so I was pretty amazed that she was still able to get up that high!

    The breeds are 1 Barred rock, 1 Rhode Island Red, 1 Black Australorp. They are being freeloaders and have not laid eggs yet!

  2. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Chicken tender Premium Member

    Jul 16, 2015
    central Wisconsin
    The desire of the chicken is to always go higher. Some stay lower as they get older, but older for a chicken seems to be a year or two. The problem with clipping both wings, as you probably know, is hard landings and the risks of leg injuries, as well as not being able to get into nestboxes and up on roosts, and if they have their adult feathers they will remain clipped until next year fall. Only you can decide what's best for you birds and your situation.
  3. azygous

    azygous Free Ranging

    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    You're correct that this should cease to be a problem once your pullets reach full size and weight. This is both a physiological and a behavioral issue.

    I have pullets the same age as yours and they are driven to perch on the highest places in the run. It's in the nature of pullets, as oldhen points out. Mine do get bullied a lot, and it's restful high above the fray.

    You're already doing a lot about the behavioral issue by discouraging your pullets when you find them up on the fence and in trees. I would encourage you to keep after them. It just may re-program their desires for high places. With just the three, this is within the realm of the doable.

    Or you can restrict them to their run, you do have a run, don't you? It's just a matter of a few months and they will be too heavy to engage in these acrobatics. And besides, you want them to be imprinted on their home base when it comes time to start laying eggs so you don't need to go hunting for them in all the bushes and nooks and crannies of your backyard.
  4. mizz9

    mizz9 Chirping

    Jun 22, 2016
    Silicon Valley Area, CA
    Thank you for the feedback.

    We do have a "run" but it is very small because we always intended on just letting them range. We can put them in the run/coop in a pinch but I prefer not to do it long-term. It's mostly just for safety at night.

    I will keep trying to make our yard a fun an exciting place so they don't want to leave and also discourage the fence jumping... maybe can fatten them up with more treats faster [​IMG]
  5. Teila

    Teila Bambrook Bantams Premium Member

    Howdy mizz9

    I am definitely not an expert on flying/exploring chickens as I have a small flock of 5 bantams who fly like bricks [​IMG] and never wander far from their coop.

    However, I just wanted to mention that I have read that you should only clip the wing on one side. If you clip both sides this returns the balance and apparently they can fly better with two wings clipped as opposed to just one.
  6. weirdlywired

    weirdlywired In the Brooder

    May 10, 2016
    Bellevue NE
    My Coop
    We have a Barred Rock and RIR the same approximate age as yours (and not laying yet!). The Barred Rock is always flying to the high points in their run! Maybe some sort of A-frame/perches within the yard would help?

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by