How to Clip Chicken Wings

clipping chicken wings to stop them from flying

Although chickens cannot fly very well like other birds, they can escape, causing a nuisance or getting into trouble with predators. If you have free-range chickens, you should consider clipping their wings to ensure that they do not escape, destroy your vegetables, or get in trouble with any predator.

You may consider clipping chicken wings cruel if you have never done it before; however, once you clip a wing or two, you will realize that it’s not as dangerous, difficult, or cruel as you may have thought it to be. Remember that the chicken will not feel any pain because the feeling can be equated to cutting our nails.

Why Do People Clip Chicken Wings?

Free-range chicken keepers are always happy to allow their birds to roam within specified areas in their farms or gardens. However, ‘flighty’ chickens can be a nuisance to neighbors, and they might also put themselves in danger of predators.

Wing clipping is the safest option when you believe that it’s essential to limit your chicken’s ability to fly. You may decide to restrict your chickens’ flying ability if you think that predators can eat them or they can escape. You should carefully research the pros and cons of chicken wing clipping before proceeding because the process can hurt them if done incorrectly.

Further Reading: Do Chickens Know their Names?

Clipping is a painless and safe way of grounding a chicken. Clipping the flight feathers will disrupt your chicken’s balance; therefore preventing it from flying over fences. The good news is that the clipped wings grow back when your chicken molts.

How to Safely Clip Chicken Wings

Wing clipping is a tried and tested technique; however, some new chicken owners are always skeptical of trying because they think they may do the procedure incorrectly and hurt them. Anyone can clip chicken wings if they have a straightforward and elaborate guide.  Here is how you can clip your chicken’s wings appropriately:

Step 1

You need to catch your chicken before clipping it. Catching the bird can be the most challenging part of the entire process. You can catch your chicken by enticing it with some grapes or mealworms, and then hold it down gently while facing you.

Let the chicken’s chest rest on your forearm, and ensure its feet are between your fingers. When you have a free hand in this position to help you hold down the top of the chicken and begin wing clipping.

If you are doing wing clipping for the first time, it is advisable to have someone else hold the bird for you while you inspect and cut the wings.

Step 2

Allow the chicken to settle down and then slowly fan out one of its wings. You will need to trim the first ten wings, which are the bird’s primary flight feathers, and leave the remaining smaller feathers intact. This process ensures that your chicken remains insulated even after clipping.

Step 3

You must ensure that the cut feathers are the right length. You could hurt the bird if you cut the feathers too short, or the process might be pointless if the feathers remain too long. You can only get the right length if you inspect your chicken’s feathers before proceeding.

A growing feather often has a blood supply attached to it. If you are keen and look underneath your bird’s wing, you will note that the blood supply is a dark shading in the feathers’ shaft. Do not cut this area because it will cause pain to the chicken, and the affected area will also be prone to future infections.

Once you identify a safe place, cut along all the ten primary feathers using clean and sharp scissors. If possible, cut below the smaller feathers that overlay the primary feathers. Be keen not to take more than 6 centimeters off.

Step 4

If your chicken becomes a little flustered after the clipping, give it some few minutes to regain composure before re-joining the flock. It is most probable that your bird will spread its agitation to the other chickens; therefore, if you want to clip your other birds, give them some few minutes to settle down before beginning the process.

You will have to clip chicken wings so they can’t fly each time their feathers grow back. The process is not complicated; therefore, you do not need to hire someone to do it for you.

Do Chicken Feel Pain When You Clip Their Wings?

When done appropriately, wing clipping is painless and will prevent your chicken from escaping, getting into trouble with predators, or from damaging your garden. However, if done improperly (cutting too close to the base), clipping could cause pain, stop the chicken from keeping warm well enough, bleeding, and the affected area may be prone to infections in the future.

 Should You Clip Both Wings on a Chicken?

If you have decided to do wing clipping, you may be wondering if you should clip one or both wings. It is advisable only to clip one wing because clipping one side throws your bird off balance, and it will be of control even if it flaps hard to get some lift. Clipping both wings might not prevent your chicken from flying because they may build up enough wing strength, which might propel them to fly.

How Often Should You Clip Chicken Wings?

Clipped chicken wings grow back after every molt; therefore, wing clipping is a continuous task. Wing clipping frequency will also depend on the number of chickens you have and if they all molt at the same time.

You should remember that chickens adapt quickly; therefore, if they get used to the idea that they cannot fly, they are least likely to try.

How High Can Chickens Jump With Clipped Wings?

The whole idea behind clipping is to prevent your chickens from getting a lift when they try to fly. If you clip a chicken’s wing correctly, it won’t jump more than 24 inches high.

You should remember that wing clipping won’t hurt your chicken if you do it properly. You can do the process without expert guidance if you follow all the guidelines diligently. Keep in mind that clipping protects your chickens because they are unlikely to escape or fall in the hands of predators.