How and why to clip a chicken s wings

How to clip a chicken's wings

Between the raccoon
and our
dog breaking a bolt-hole in the pasture fence
, our chickens started
getting in the habit of escaping their pastures.  I was nearly at
my wits’ end when I realized that only the two pullets we raised this
spring were escaping regularly.  With the problem more manageable
in proportion, I decided to experiment with clipping the troublesome
duo’s wings.

Chicken wing clippingBefore I explain how to clip
a chicken’s wings, I should tell you that the downsides of the process
usually outweigh the upsides, at least for me.  In general, I
think there’s a management problem if your chickens are regularly
flying the coop — perhaps there’s a predator they’re scared of, or
you’ve let their pastures become over-grazed so there’s no wild food
available.  Unfortunately, as I discovered, it’s quite possible to
fix the management problem and have hens who just got used to flying
and don’t want to stop.  That’s when I recommend resorting to wing

The other reason not to
clip a chicken’s wings is if you’re going to let your flock free range
where predators might be present.  Basically, by clipping, you’re
promising your hen that you’re going to take care of her and that she
won’t have to take flight to escape. 
writes that
he “would never clip the wing of a free-ranging chicken”, and I have to

If that reasoning
doesn’t scare you off, though, it’s pretty simple to do the deed. 
I was able to hold our chicken and cut her wings myself, but you might
be happier if you have a helper to keep your hen contained while you
snip.  You’ll also want to hunt down a heavy-duty pair of scissors
before you start.

Grounding a chickenIn general, it’s recommended
that you clip only one wing of a chicken at first so that you imbalance
and confuse her, not make her completely unable to fly.  If you
tuck the hen under our arm, you’ll be able to spread out her wing with
one hand and snip the feathers with the other.  Just be sure not
to cut closer than an inch to the base of the feather or you may make
the wing bleed.  As long as you take that precaution, you won’t be
causing any pain to your chicken at all — the process is a bit like
getting your hair or fingernails cut.

After clipping one wing
of each of our pullets, I was very disappointed to find one of them out
in the garden the very next morning.  The second step if your
chicken is still flying despite her wing clipping is to cut the flight
feathers off the other wing.  Unfortunately, even that didn’t
suffice to ground the most determined member of our flock, so she’s
currently flavoring a big pot of soup, but everyone else is behaving
admirably and all’s quiet at last in the chicken yard.

Our POOP-free chicken waterer ensures your hens don’t fly
the coop in search of clean water.

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