1. If this is your first time on BYC, we suggest you start with one of these three options:
    Raising Chickens Chicken Coops Join BYC
    If you're already a member of our community, click here to login & click here to learn what's new!

Pinion / De Winging, is there a better way?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by bootsNbirds, Sep 7, 2015.

  1. bootsNbirds

    bootsNbirds Chillin' With My Peeps

    101
    3
    58
    Aug 13, 2014
    Madera, CA
    My Coop
    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?
     
  2. enola

    enola Overrun With Chickens

    Are you planning on buying day old chicks or started pullets?
     
  3. bootsNbirds

    bootsNbirds Chillin' With My Peeps

    101
    3
    58
    Aug 13, 2014
    Madera, CA
    My Coop
    Day-Olds.
    I believe it's harder on older birds, is that correct?
     
  4. enola

    enola Overrun With Chickens

    Yes it is much harder on a chick any older than a day or two old.

    Here's a suggestion...... Rather than pinioning chicks, why don't you invest in some taller fencing? Premier1 makes a poultry fence that is taller than the fence you mentioned. It is easy to move and comes in the color green, which will blend in with the environment.

    Most chickens will not try to fly over a taller fence if there is nothing to"land on" at the top.
     
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2015
  5. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Chicken Obsessed

    16,793
    3,083
    456
    Nov 7, 2012
    CENTRAL MAINE
    Personally, I'd never consider doing that. (IMO, it's worse than de-clawing a cat) I use electronet. While there are some flock members who do escape the net, a lot of them do not even try. IMO, I'd catch the naughty ones, and clip their wings. That way you'd not have to clip 200 birds, and the instigators would no longer be inciting the rest to escape. It would be fairly easy to set up a corral along your fence line. Chase the trouble makers into the corral, and clip them, then toss them over the fence. Several days of this, and I bet you'd have the problem solved. The biggest problem I see starting with a young flock and electronet would be the early days when the youngsters can squirt through the netting. You might want to put up some deer netting INSIDE the electronet until they're too big to wiggle through. Regarding wing clipping, often, if you clip them the first time, by the time they've molted again, they are so used to NOT escaping, and they are much heavier, and more settled in their behavior, so you don't have to clip after the molt. Of course, this depends on the breed. Your light weight Mediterranean breeds, or some of the other more flighty breeds may need that second clipping.
     
  6. Miriahb

    Miriahb Out Of The Brooder

    80
    3
    38
    Jul 24, 2015
    Batesville, AR
    I trim the flight feathers on my birds. I didn't want to, but after I lost a fayoumis, a leghorn and a sexlink to the dog pens (they wanted the kibble), I caught all of them and trimmed and penned them in a large open run with a four foot welded wire fence with hardware cloth along the bottom of the fence. No escapes since, though the Fayoumis have showed me that they are talented climbers, and they can still get to bugs and get goodies.
     
  7. bootsNbirds

    bootsNbirds Chillin' With My Peeps

    101
    3
    58
    Aug 13, 2014
    Madera, CA
    My Coop
    Unfortunately I've already bought all the fencing (from Premier actually). Took me a year to save up for it, so I'm sort of stuck with it. :/
     
  8. bootsNbirds

    bootsNbirds Chillin' With My Peeps

    101
    3
    58
    Aug 13, 2014
    Madera, CA
    My Coop
    Electronet is what I have, and used last year on the 200. :) I did invest in the plastic "chick fencing" from Premier as well, which is to be set up inside the electronet until they're bigger.
    Re: feather clipping, how early do you clip feathers to prevent the chicks learning to fly? How many weeks?
    Ha, yes, it was the lightweight birds that were the most trouble. The Ameraucanas and Andalusians were not only escaping over the fence, but into the trees!
     
  9. bootsNbirds

    bootsNbirds Chillin' With My Peeps

    101
    3
    58
    Aug 13, 2014
    Madera, CA
    My Coop
    Okay sounds like a single clipping was good enough for your birds. Were they full grown or still young birds when you clipped them?
     
  10. bootsNbirds

    bootsNbirds Chillin' With My Peeps

    101
    3
    58
    Aug 13, 2014
    Madera, CA
    My Coop
    Quote: Speaking of breeds, maybe I should just aim for heavier breeds that will only need to be clipped once, before they get too fat to fly... Does anyone have any experience with Production Reds? Are they super light and flighty like the New Hampshires and Mediterranean breeds?
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by