Clipping 6-8 week old chicks wings?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by jhmoore, Jul 2, 2010.

  1. jhmoore

    jhmoore Songster

    Sep 6, 2008
    Holly, Michigan
    I have my five 6-8 week old chicks in a 12X12 area in my barn until they are big enough to be introduced to the "big girls" (my full size hens). The are fenced in on three sides by 4 1/2 foot stall walls, and on the 4th side by 36 inch chicken wire. I've tried to keep it interesting to them in there- lots of toys, places to hide, etc. The last 2 days a few of them are "jumping" the chicken wire wall and escaping into the barn. I've watched them flutter up to the top, perch on the wire, then cruise right over to the other side. I worry they will get lost or hurt. My question is, can I clip the wings on these girls when they're so young? If so, how do I do it? Thanks for any insight.
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging 9 Years

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    You can. Clip just on one side so they are unbalanced. If they are motivated, even chickens with one wing clipped can still jump and flap higher than you might think, but it does help slow them down from just flying. In other words, it will help but not necessarily solve all your problems.

    You can expect them to go through 2 juvenile molts from when they get their initial feathers until they get their adult plumage, with the adult plumage probably coming in around 16 to 18 weeks of age. You will have to re-clip after each juvenile molt. At 6 to 8 weeks old, yours should be fully feathered out with their first set of juvenile feathers but not yet started their first juvenile molt. When the feathers are growing though, they can have blood in them, so when you clip them they can bleed. If you see red blood in the flight feathers or they bleed when you cut them, I'd wait a bit to clip them.

    Good luck!

    Learning Center Wing Clipping
  3. Kedreeva

    Kedreeva Longfeather Lane 8 Years

    Jun 10, 2010
    You can clip one or both sides, but I fully recommend both sides.

    Use a sharp, clean pair of scissors. You may want to enlist the help of another person. Have them gently hold the bird so it can't struggle and then extend a wing flat along your fingers with 1 hand. Use the thumb of the same hand to press/hold gently at the shoulder socket so they don't struggle to flap and hurt themselves. Cut from the outer edge feathers (primaries) inward, about halfway down the feathers (look at the feathers covering the primaries, and clip around that height). Usually just clipping the primaries (6-10 feathers) will stop them from getting very far, but if they're still escaping you can cut some of the secondaries as well.

    Here's a video showing the primaries to cut (it's on a parrot but whatever):

    here's one of someone actually clipping a wing:

    do a little more than he does in the second video there for some of our birds, but generally yeah, that's all it takes.
  4. noodleroo

    noodleroo Snuggles with Chickens

    Apr 29, 2010
    Rockport, Tx
    Just my opinion but....I think chicks this young have a 'window of opportunity' for developing their basic skills when they are small. And they are only small for a little while. Clipping the wings interferes with their ability to learn agility and they need all their skills to deal with life as an adult chicken, a prey animal.

    You have to do what you have to do, but if you could avoid wing clipping until they are older, I think it would be better for your chickens in the long run.
  5. maurerwerks

    maurerwerks Songster

    Jun 29, 2009
    What about draping some bird netting over the top of the enclosure? We buy ours from a blueberry grower and it's 17 feet wide and costs 60 cents a running foot, so not too expensive. Then maybe give them something within the enclosure to fly to, like a roost. Just a thought. [​IMG]

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