Chicken Wing Clipping: As simple and painless for the chickens as it is for you!
Throughout fall and spring, our chickens enjoy roaming freely around our yard. However, with summer on the horizon and fresh seeds in the ground, it becomes less possible to grant them this freedom. Once they start eye up my precious flower starts or cucumber plants, it’s time for feather trim-ups! The solution is a quick and easy trim of their wings – just like cutting your own hair for the summer!
By clipping the long feathers off the end of your chickens’ wings, it prevents them from flying out of their enclosure. This will prevent them from getting into your newly planted garden / flower beds and protects the chickens from dogs or other animals who might post a risk to your flock. Clipping chicken wings will keep them in their chicken coop and is the easiest way to maintain control of your chickens without building a higher fence, etc. We also use this trim as a time to check up on our chickens health.
The main reason for clipping your chickens wings is to prohibit their ability to fly out of their chicken runs (enclosures). They will still be able to flap their wings and get some height but only enough for short distances. They won’t be able to get nearly as much air as they would with full wings. For our family, having our chickens stay in their enclosures means they won’t be able to get to our fresh grown seeds and plants around our yard. Planting our cut flower and produce gardens take time, money, and effort. Keeping chickens away is one of the step we take to ensuring the plants’ and the chickens’ health and longevity. Cutting chicken’s feathers applies to any chicken breeds and any chicken: young chickens, free-range chickens, backyard chickens, etc.
The main benefit the chicken will get out of feather clipping is safety. Without the ability to roam around, this erases almost all chances of them getting preyed on by dogs, coyotes, etc. or getting hurt by materials in our farm and garden. I also use this time to do a quick health and wing maintenance check, do is see any lice (meaning they need more dusting opportunities), looking for bumble feet issues or vent blockages, etc.
You will need two materials for chicken wing clipping: Sharp Scissors and a strong arm 🙂
This can be just a one person job, however you can delegate anyone around you to lend an extra hand or arm for support if you have an ornery chicken
Chicken’s wings have three distinct parts. Covert feathers are the shorter and smaller feathers closest to the chickens body – they help cover the other wings and allow for smooth air flow over the wings. Secondary wing feathers are the smaller flight feathers that aid in flying and are located closer to the side of the chickens body (like a forearm or elbow). Primary wing feathers are the longest and outermost chicken’s wing feathers and are dominant for flying. When trimming, you will want to only cut the first 10 primary feathers of the chicken. Once you have your chicken secure in your arms, locate and spread out the first 10 large flight feathers.
Take your sharp scissors (Using a nice sharp pair of scissors is also helpful in speeding up the process with an antsy chicken) and cut the primary wings right under the start of their second layer of feathers (secondary wings). Cut as straight across as you can and that’s it! Some people will choose to just trim up one side to make the chickens flight slightly off balance, but I prefer symmetry so we do both sides. We are only trimming up the feathers and never want to cut into the flesh of the wing. Because you aren’t cutting anywhere near the chickens flesh you won’t have to worry about nerve endings, blood vessels, or hitting anything that would harm them.
|Does clipping a chickens wings hurt them?|
While the idea of clipping a chickens wings might seem cruel, you can rest assured that it will not hurt them at all. This is the equivalent of cutting your nails or getting a summer haircut. As chicken owners, this is a common practice and just another farm chore. Still, we make sure to reward our chickens with a few wormy treats right after 🙂
|Do clipped chicken wings grow back?|
Yes, the new feathers will grow in anywhere between a couple months or until the next molt (a year). Either way, it is guaranteed that the chickens feather’s will grow back before the next molt. Molting happens once a year and is a time focused on renewing and regrowing feathers. During this time, the chicken will stop laying eggs in order to preserve energy and nutrients.
|When should I clip my chickens wings? |
We clip our chickens wings at the start of summer however, chicken wing clipping can be done at any time you need except for when they are molting (read question above).
|How high can a chicken fly with clipped wings?|
An average chicken with a full set of wings can fly about 10 – 15 feet high so clipped feathers means that it will be anything less than that. With shorter feathers your chickens will be able to fly only 2 – 3 feet off the ground.
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