Are you wondering how to clip chicken wings but uncertain if you need to do so? Sometimes, it may be essential to restrict a chicken’s capacity to fly, and wing clipping is one method of accomplishing it.
You should first carefully evaluate your decision since the drawbacks are significant. But when performed correctly, wing clipping is a painless and straightforward procedure.
How To Clip Chicken Wings?
When raising a flock, many decisions take some time to think about, and one of those hard decisions is either to clip or not to clip your chicken’s wings. Though clipping the wings is neither harmful nor painful to your chicken, how to clip chicken wings are usually the last option to solve an issue.
While many chicken owners know how to clip chicken wings, most still believe in preserving as much of the chicken’s original condition as possible. Chicken wings may occasionally require clipping. Whichever ideology you follow, here are a few things to ponder as you select the best choice for your chickens.
Is Clipping Chicken Wings Necessary?
The reason behind this is that chickens fly. They do not fly like other birds; they are high, fast, and can stay mid-air for a few minutes, but they can fly. They are capable of crossing fences, which is where they sometimes get themselves into trouble or danger.
For many flock owners, a fence serves the dual purpose of keeping predators and other hazards outside and chickens inside. Furthermore, if the chickens escape the barrier and out of the secure area, the fence is ineffective in protecting them.
Some chicken housing techniques eliminate the need to clip the wings. For instance, some structures are enclosed. It inhibits air and ground predators from entering the fence and stops the chickens from fleeing. If kept in a protected enclosure, there is no reason to contemplate cutting your chickens’ wings.
Another possibility is that chickens’ wings might not require clipping; if they are not confined. If they are free-range — if they are let out of the chicken coop at dawn and permitted to enjoy their days wandering anywhere their hearts want — there is no logical need to prevent them from a flight.
Indeed, free-range chickens benefit from having both wings functioning since this enables them to fly away from harm to nearby trees and other tall structures when attacked. Additionally, chickens kept inside unless directly supervised by people do not require wing clipping.
There is no natural explanation for why chickens should not fly. Nature has endowed them with robust and compact bones uniquely linked together for added power and suited to their needs.
The Right Way To Clip Chicken Wings
Once you’ve captured your chicken, carefully turn it sideways to assist with its relaxation. Keep it firmly beneath your arm; ensure the feet and beaks are facing outward from you. Wrapping them securely with a towel can help to calm the chicken and prevent you from getting scratched. Below are some straightforward procedures on how to clip chicken wings.
First, ensure you have these types of equipment before the procedure:
- Towel: to help secure the chicken comfortably
- Scissors: with a rounded tip and must have sharp blades
- First Aid Kit: in case you accidentally went too far on the wings
- Cornstarch: this can also aid in stopping the bleeding
1. Spread and expose the wing feathers
Select one wing of each chicken, either left or right, to make it easy to recognize which chicken has already clipped. Any side of the chicken is alright; pick one for your entire flock. Gently spread the wing out to locate the primary feathers.
Ensure that you clip only the wings. You want to avoid severing any bone, skin, or blood artery. Make sure to prevent causing harm to the chicken. Clip the feathers along the entire length of the wing.
Clip each primary feather one at a time until you finish all of them. You’ll be clipping around ten primary feathers. It may seem not very comforting initially, but with experience, you will feel much more comfortable. It is not required to clip both wings of your chicken. It will redistribute their weight evenly, and they may be capable of flying, although briefly.
2. Clip the wing feathers gently with sharp scissors
Clip only the primary wing feathers, stopping at the point where the secondary feathers begin. Allow the chicken to calm down for a minute before gently releasing it. Proceed with the remaining chickens, clipping the same side each round.
This condition will persist until the chicken’s next molt when the feathers start growing again. At that point, most chickens will abandon their attempts to fly. But, if you have a very obstinate chicken, you may need to redo this procedure each time to ensure their safety.
Why Should You Clip Your Chicken’s Wings?
Keeping a backyard flock ensures that you get delicious fresh eggs. They need minimal maintenance; all they want is clean water, nutritious food, and a secure and comfortable spot to sleep and lay eggs.
Sadly for some chicken owners, maintaining chickens in their proper habitat may not frequently be simple. Chickens, usually curious creatures, are unaware of the laws of the fence and even other boundaries. Flying out over the fence may appear to them to be a brilliant idea.
When chickens are fully feathered, they are capable of flying. They can fly for approximately 13 ft. long and about 6 ft. or higher above the ground. It’s not that long and high, but it is enough to cross a six-foot fence.
One approach to resolving this issue is learning how to clip chicken wings. Chicken wings are composed of various feathers, ranging from primary to secondary. Chickens with one wing cut are incapable of balancing correctly off-ground.
This process won’t hurt them. It’s comparable to when you cut your nails or hair. Unless you get it too far into their wings, there will be no discomfort or blood loss, including a fully matured hen.
While you may begin trimming chicken wings anytime you want, it is generally preferable to do so before the flying skill becomes an issue. It implies that it is preferable to clip a non-flying chicken under six months old before it attempts to fly over the fence. They will adjust more quickly as they get older.
Assess the breed first before deciding to clip its wings. Heavier chicken breeds, like Orpingtons, Brahma, or Jersey Giants, may not require any wing clipping at all. They may be unable to get themselves off the ground and cross fences by flying due to their weight and size.
Your best prospects will be the smaller and lighter breeds. Any chicken that regularly escapes by flying, regardless of its breed, and causes any trouble to neighbors’ property or puts itself at risk is likewise a potential candidate for wing clipping.
Tips on How to Clip Chicken Wings
Numerous backyard flock owners clip chicken wings to restrict them from flying and maintain group cohesion. You probably witnessed that one special chicken fly away joyfully, looking more like a migratory bird than your favorite fowl.
Although this prospect of cutting may seem intimidating, with appropriate knowledge and proper handling, you can easily accomplish this. Here are some simple tips that can guide you and your chicken throughout the procedure.
- Do not be concerned that you are cruel to your beloved fowl – your chicken shall feel no pain. It’s like you trim your hair or nails.
- Hold your chicken gently, you might not hurt them by clipping, but you can squeeze and hurt them if you hold them too tight and roughly.
- Look for assistance. It is advantageous and easier to have somebody hold your chicken as you clip the wing feather since your feathery buddy is likely to be wiggling and want to be free.
- Please don’t be too nervous, as it might cause accidents during the procedure and could injure your chicken.
- Which feathers are alright to clip? Start by fully spreading one of your bird’s wings. Clip only the primary flight feathers, which are the thickest and longest feathers on the wing. Usually, chickens possess ten or more of them, each of which has a distinct color.
- It is not good to clip both wings, just one. Clipping both wings is pointless since cutting one puts your chicken at a significant deficit due to its imbalanced state when it attempts to take off.
- Bear in mind that clipping your bird’s wings is a temporary remedy. Whenever they molt again, your feathered buddy will develop an entirely fresh batch of flight feathers! However, do not worry; next time you need to perform the procedure again, you will undoubtedly be an expert.
- After releasing them, give them delicious treats as a reward for a successful wing clipping procedure.
- Clip only the primary wing feathers, about 2½ centimeters from the tips of the short feathers at the bottom of the wing. Do not include the secondary wing feathers.
Alternative Methods for Clipping Chicken Wings
Both wing bands and partial wing clipping can be alternatives to full-wing clipping, depending on the purpose of flock management.Wing bands are best used in providing a non-permanent solution that allows birds to retain their flying ability while remaining identifiable within a flock. Clipping one bird’s wings is beneficial in situations where you need your chickens to be free-range but not fly away from their designated area such as yards or barnyards. Both of these techniques provide useful approaches for controlling chicken flight without having to completely clip both wings like with traditional methods.
The wing band method involves the use of numbered or color-coded plastic or metal bands. When placed on the chickens, these bands help identify individual birds within a flock while still allowing them limited ability to fly. This method is great for show birds so as to not damage their wings.
Clipping Only One Wing
Alternatively, clipping one wing’s primary flight feathers is also an effective way to prevent sustained flight while still keeping birds mobile. This technique may come in handy for poultry breeders intent on free-ranging so the flock can stay confined in a certain area.
Now you know how to clip chicken wings, the whys, the reasons, and the tips. You should also know that you should only do this to your chickens that consistently tend to fly. It is not necessary for well-behaved birds. This process is straightforward and requires just a couple of minutes.
Joseph Hudson has been raising chickens for over 15 years. In 2018, he completed the Agriculture & Natural Resources program at Mt. San Antonio College. He currently raises over 1400 chickens on his 7.5-hectare farm. He keeps sharing his experience on raising healthy and happy chickens on Chicken Scratch.