Wing Clipping Questions (to Make Me Feel Better About Doing It)

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by MissIvoryB, Oct 13, 2016.

  1. MissIvoryB

    MissIvoryB Just Hatched

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    Aug 12, 2016
    Columbus, Indiana
    The majority of my chickens have always roamed free in my fenced-in back yard, and I think it's time I bite the bullet and clip some wing feathers. It breaks my heart since one of the highlights of my day is coming out the back door to be greeted by the flying stampede racing toward me in excitement or when they flap up onto the picnic table for cuddles and scratches. BUT, I've got a couple that are getting bold and curious about the world on the other side of the fence. They're starting to jump up on my planter and the coop to look over it, and I'm scared they're going to get out and get mauled by one of the neighborhood dogs or hit by a car.

    How often do they need it done? Do they lose every damaged feather when they molt, or am I good for a couple molts?

    What's the best tool for the job? I know they can't feel it like we can't feel fingernails getting clipped, but I can definitely feel the difference between good and dull nail clippers. Are a sharp pair of kitchen shears good enough to get through quills in one cut? Or would it be better with something with more bite like some pruning shears?

    How is the best way to hold them when you do it? Does it have to be a two-person effort?

    Are they calmer if I get them out of the coop to do it at roosting time? I'm going to do it at that time anyway since I don't want to chase them on top of everything else, but I'm just curious if they'll be more mellow and less flappy at bedtime.

    Would it be best to just clip everyone's wings or just the ones trying to get out?

    And, the final and most important question... Do they get over it? Will I ever be forgiven for the traumatizing act of holding them down, ruining their feathers, and taking away their ability to fly?
     
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    How often do they need it done? Do they lose every damaged feather when they molt, or am I good for a couple molts?

    The feathers will fall out at the next molt and be replaced. It’s an every molt thing.

    What's the best tool for the job? I know they can't feel it like we can't feel fingernails getting clipped, but I can definitely feel the difference between good and dull nail clippers. Are a sharp pair of kitchen shears good enough to get through quills in one cut? Or would it be better with something with more bite like some pruning shears?

    Kitchen shears should work fine.

    How is the best way to hold them when you do it? Does it have to be a two-person effort?

    Wrap them in a large towel. Cover the head and pretty much wrap them up, just leaving the wing exposed. It never hurts to have two people but if you wrap them it should be a one person job.

    Are they calmer if I get them out of the coop to do it at roosting time? I'm going to do it at that time anyway since I don't want to chase them on top of everything else, but I'm just curious if they'll be more mellow and less flappy at bedtime.

    It does not matter.

    Would it be best to just clip everyone's wings or just the ones trying to get out?

    Best is a really different concept to reply to. If you are comfortable you know which ones might try to fly, do those. If not, do them all.

    And, the final and most important question... Do they get over it? Will I ever be forgiven for the traumatizing act of holding them down, ruining their feathers, and taking away their ability to fly?

    I forgive you. It has to be a human because the chickens won’t be traumatized. They will quickly get over all of that. They will still flap toward you when you go out. Your relationship with the chickens will not change in their minds. You are worrying about something that just doesn’t matter to the chickens.
     

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