I'm starting a flock of 300 egg layers in Nov, and considering having them de winged. Now, please hold off with the knee-jerk "That's cruel!" I hate the idea, I really really do! I always want to raise animals in the most natural way possible. That's why I want to raise the hens free-range in pasture yards with moveable electric fencing. The fencing is only 4 ft high, though, and I've had young birds fly over it with ease :/ It makes me unhappy to think of a flock full of mutilated birds.... But.... Is a one-time operation more inhumane than twice or thrice yearly, stressful chase-and-grab sessions? Or being ripped apart by coyotes because the hen flew out? My family helped me last year, it took us 4-5 hours to catch and clip feathers on 200 screaming birds. We even tried doing it at night, thinking the birds wouldn't see us coming and they'd be easier to catch. Didn't work. So, with all that in mind, my main questions are these: 1. Is there a way to cut less of the wing off and still prevent flight? 2. Could one perhaps just cauterize the feather follicles at a young age? 3. Instead of de-winging, is there any more efficient, less stressful method of catching large numbers of chickens for feather clipping?