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Wing clipping

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Saffi0418, Jan 26, 2013.

  1. Saffi0418

    Saffi0418 In the Brooder

    Nov 6, 2012
    Melbourne, Australia
    I would like to let my chickens out of their run to wander around in the garden, but I'm worried they might fly over the fences. One in particular likes to fly around within their enclosure.
    Our vet, who keeps chickens, has offered to show me how to clip their wings.
    Is it a good idea to clip their wings?
    How often do they need to be clipped?

  2. Judy

    Judy Crowing Premium Member

    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
  3. jak2002003

    jak2002003 Crowing

    Oct 24, 2009
    If you back garden is a good size the chickens will likely not fly over the fence. They will stay around the coop and run area provided you keep food there all the time. They only wander away if they are hungry and they have to look for their own food.

    Even if they do fly out of your garden, they will know the way back.

    None of my chickens have their wings clipped now. They will fly up to the top of the wall not go over.

    I always used to clip the wings, but one day a dog got into my garden and the chickens were easy to catch as they could not fly away.

    About a year later a friend of my husbands came around and bought his 2 small dogs and just let them off the lead into the garden as he walked to our front door. I watched the dogs race towards the chickens to try and grab them, but they all just flew up into the trees and some out into the street. After the dogs were under control the chickens all came back on their own.

    If I had their wings clipped I am sure the dogs would have killed some.
  4. WalkingOnSunshine

    WalkingOnSunshine Crowing

    Apr 8, 2008
    I disagree with Jak2002003 above--I've seen hens range awfully far away, no matter how lovely their place is. Mine will go all the way to the back field, even though their pasture is far nicer (our back pasture is fallow right now, and nothing but blackberry brambles). I've seen my Dad's hens on the top of his hill, even though they also spend time in the grainery, which is much friendlier to hens than the hill. I would assume that your hens will decide to fly out some day.

    It it true that they are slightly more vulnerable with their wings clipped. You have to balance that against what it adds to their lives to be able to range. We clip all wings so our hens stay in the chicken pasture. When they are let out, they go EVERYWHERE, destroying vegetable gardens and flower beds in their wakes. If I didn't clip wings, I couldn't keep chickens.

    Also, I'm assuming that you mean you want to let them out into the garden now, while it's not planted. Chickens in a planted garden are a nightmare. And if they get near any mulched flower beds, you'll start thinking about chicken soup for dinner, LOL.
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2013
  5. arcy liger

    arcy liger Chirping

    Jul 6, 2012
    i just leave the first 2 feathers and clip the 8 in a row..... the wing does not seem to be cliped..
  6. jak2002003

    jak2002003 Crowing

    Oct 24, 2009
    Yes, everyone has different situations. My chicken are only small bantams - although I do have about 30 of them. They don't do any damage to the garden, but I don't have vegetables or delicate flowers to worry about.

    In my situation not clipping is best. The birds can fly about, and never stray far from home. They always come back to the coop.

    The chickens only defence from predators is flight. If you take that away then they are handicapped if a creature decided to eat one.

    However, if the OP has some neighbours that might get angry if the birds fly into their gardens, then I would advise clipping the wings.

    Just be careful..........if a clipped bird does jump up onto the fence and goes next door, there is a real chance that it will not be able to get back because of the clipped wings, and then a neighbours dog or some other animal may get the trapped chicken.
  7. Saffi0418

    Saffi0418 In the Brooder

    Nov 6, 2012
    Melbourne, Australia
    Thanks everyone - that gives me a lot to think about.
    I really just want them out for the afternoon, once they have finished laying for the day - don't want to have eggs laid all over the place.

    I do plan to be working in the garden when they are out, but there are always distractions.

    My next concern is getting them back in the enclosure. I assume they will come back to roost, but what if I want to lock them up earlier?

  8. hnybny91

    hnybny91 In the Brooder

    Jan 26, 2013
    Mine always go back in the coop at dusk but trying to get them in earlier is a pain.
  9. chickenbythesea

    chickenbythesea Songster

    Jun 15, 2011
    Nova Scotia
    i have a silver spangled hamburg who can fly 10 feet straight up... tried just clipping one wing and the sucker could still fly (had to put my son on top of the coop roof too many times)., so I ended up clipping all her flight feathers on both wings... I still have a very hard time catching her but at least she's not way up in the air at night where it's dangerous to climb and get her. If you need to clip than do it.. it doesn't hurt and it (depending on situation) can help to keep them safe.
  10. FenikT

    FenikT Chirping

    Dec 5, 2012
    I'm on the fence (no pun intended) on the value of wing clipping.

    I have five hens (3 cornish, 2 EE) I got when they were several months old. My neighbor (old country boy) said clipping wing feathers was a requirement if I didn't want to chase birds over the fence and into the woods each day. I reluctantly clipped several feathers on one wing on two of them and left Momma Bird untouched. My backyard has a 7ft privacy fence (btwn me and neighbor) on one side and 4ft picket for the rest of the yard. I never had any issues w/ the cornish trying to jump the 4ft picket.

    My EEs were also several months old when I got them. I figured I would left them intact and see how things played out. One day I got home from work and only noticed four birds present. I assumed a predator had nabbed Goldie (EE) and put the remaining girls back in the coop. After looking all over the backyard and scanning the nearby woods, I didn't initially notice anything. Just when I was about to go back inside, something caught my eye in the deep brush, then I heard a cluck. Seems Goldie flew over the 4ft picket fence but couldn't figure how to get back over into the backyard. I let Momma Bird out of the coop and she started clucking and running along the fence line. Goldie eventually came alongside the fence and paced back/forth for about an hour. Momma Bird was still clucking away when I put her back in the coop, sounding a bit worried that Goldie was still astray.

    I finally had to pop a picket off the fence line so she could get back in.

    After this two hour debacle, I clipped both wings on both EEs. In hindsight, I probably was a bit overzealous and emotional in doing this to the EEs. I suspect Goldie was just testing the bounds of her new home (going from a 20x20' run with 30 turkeys, guineas, and chicks to a backyard with only four sisters).

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