How old should they be before I clip their wings?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by Johnboy78, Jun 9, 2011.

  1. Johnboy78

    Johnboy78 Out Of The Brooder

    May 16, 2011
    I know the feathers being clipped should be fully grown to prevent bleeding.
    They are still brooder bound and won't be out for another week or so.
    My yard is totally enclosed by a five foot fence (for the dogs) and I would
    guess that they won't be able to jump it for a while but they are all great at
    going airborne. (except the RIR's, they don't even try)

    And the other question is do I clip one wing or both?
    Some of what I've read says just clip one, it will unbalance them enough
    to keep them from getting that high.
    Other sources say clip both wings.

    Philosophically I'd rather limit them than unbalance them.
    But I've never dealt with chickens and I don't know if that is a consideration
    that really matters to a chicken or just my flawed human perception of their situation.

    Their main purpose is pets and entertainment that occasionally supply eggs,
    some we will consume, most we will give away.

    I'm a bit nervous about the clipping but I've watched half a dozen videos
    on YouTube and it looks a lot easier than doing my dogs' nails.
  2. mljohnson05

    mljohnson05 Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 16, 2011
    If you clip a chicken's wings, you take away much of its ability to escape predators. Have you considered covering the top of your pen instead? Your chickens will be safer from predators this way, rather than more vulnerable.
    What Type of breeds do you have (full size or bantams)??

    All types when small can fly and a 5 foot fence is NOTHING to bantams can fly up onto one 6 foot+ high.
    But if they are going to be large breeds when fully grown, then no need to cause most will no longer attempt to fly.

    This is somewhat a function of breed, age, and your coop set-up. If you do clip a wing (and you clip only one, not both) just fan the wing feathers out and with a sharp scissor, cut the tips of the feathers, about 1 1/2 inches or so, not into the quill part of the feathers, in a straight line. They can still fly a little, but can't get far and this throws off their balance and ability to launch. If you have large breeds, they seem to fly most when young and small and less as they get older and heavier. If you decide not to clip the wing, short of completely covering the run, you might consider attaching a length of poultry wire or hardware cloth (scraps) leaning in, along the top of your run so that if they fly up, they hit that and don't have anything to land on at the top. If you have small "flighty" breeds, you may have to clip the wings if you can't cover the run. Some chickens (banties, and smaller, lighter breeds) can fly really high.

    Best Wishes
  3. armedtodream

    armedtodream Out Of The Brooder

    Feb 14, 2011
    N. Idaho
    I don't know what breed you have, but we have polish & brahma-bantam adults & twelve 9 wk old barred rocks & we haven't had to clip any wings. They just don't want to fly that much, especially after they are getting close to adult size. With our babies, the only time they flew up to the top of our 5 1/2 ft fence was before we had put the roosts in their coop. They went up 2 evenings at dusk until we put roosts in the coop but hadn't gone up during the day ever. Our big girls never fly more than a few feet & practically horizontally when trying to escape a shadow or something. When they got suitable roosts, they never bothered to fly up there again.
    I don't think you'll have to clip any wings & would definitely wait til there is a reason to do it if you think you might. The way I see it, every extra thing we mess with is an extra opportunity for disaster (whether it's one that happens when you are wrangling or clipping or when they can't get away from something :) I have seen lots of people just put chicken wire or something at an angle on top of a "fliers" fence, so they can't get enough momentum to get out.
  4. ThinkingChickens

    ThinkingChickens Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 18, 2011
    We have had our Delaware, Barred Rock and Jersey Giant outside for about 18 weeks now and they don't try and fly over the fence. Most of our fence is 6' but our neighbors chain link is just 4.5' and they don't go up. Also, we have trees all around, some with low branches and they don't fly up there either. The highest they go is on top of their run but that's just 2' off the ground. I guess what I'm saying is we don't clip and probably won't clip the new gals either.
  5. gale65

    gale65 Chillin' With My Peeps

    It sounds like the OP is not using a run, but letting the chickens run free in her yard, which as a 5' fence. So there isn't any way to cover it.
  6. jtr

    jtr Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 6, 2011
    Quote:agree dont clip their wings just put a chicken wire roof on it for preditors and so they cant fly out
  7. Marylizbet

    Marylizbet Out Of The Brooder

    Mar 25, 2011
    One wing. They can learn to fly (again) with both wings clipped. Scissors to feathers, yeah way easier then holding down a dog. : ) I am going to wait until I find an escapee before I clip their wings. So far, so good. Mine fly some, but never away from their fellow companions. They don't go around flying, just hopping, and running.
  8. thehbcrew

    thehbcrew Out Of The Brooder

    Jun 9, 2011
    Long Island
    just make sure you have no prediators around, clipping them can slow them down if they are under attack, i have a 12X12 pen and the coop is locked up at night, 6 foot high fencing, hoping mine dont go anywhere. Going to enclose the top once i have more money again. Even doing everything by myself it drained my pockets pretty quickly.
  9. perchie.girl

    perchie.girl Desert Dweller Premium Member

    Quote:edited to add: [​IMG]

    If you are going to do it do both wings, its a fairly benign process. I used to do parakeets and parrots for training purposes. I eventually found that birds I trimmed stopped trying to fly at all. So I quit.

    Clipping both gives them the ability to motor down from a perch or to motor up if another chicken snatches at them. But I would prefer to cover the top of the run so they cant get out. A five foot fence is not enough to keep a determined dog out. Maybe not the dogs you know but a dog that smells yummy chicken on the other side of the fence. So this means if you don't have a run it would be a good idea to build one. with a top. Then you can free range them when you are there to protect them.
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2011
  10. Johnboy78

    Johnboy78 Out Of The Brooder

    May 16, 2011
    Thanks. My coop/run is covered, it's an eglu setup, but I plan
    to let them roam the yard. Only predators around here are
    redtailed hawks, possums and raccoons. I haven't seen possums
    and raccoons about for over ten years, not since I've had the
    dobies. Hawks are about the only threat I'm going to face, not to
    minimize since I saw one flying over the yard carrying a squirrel away,
    but I have a lot of tree and shrub cover so they aren't completely exposed.

    According to the advice I'll wait and see if I need to clip at all. Most concern is the two Hamburgs.
    They are flightly and not really into being friendly. The two RIRs are not interested in leaving the ground
    at all, the two sexlinks are friendly and curious, and the two Yokohamas are kinda
    friendly and fairly docile. The Hamburgs will be the closest to being wild so they are the ones
    I want to keep out of my neighbor's yards.

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