Between the raccoon
trouble 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
Before 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. Harvey
Ussery 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.
In 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.
the coop in search of clean water.
Make an example out of one of ’em, and the rest will fall in line…
…my belly. Maybe chickens can count after all.
What is wrong with you??? Would you like to have your arms or legs “clipped”??? This is animal cruelty!!!
Anonymous — I’m so sorry you feel that way. I’m not sure you understand what wing clipping entails, though. You don’t actually clip the flesh of the birds, just the feathers, which is analogous to clipping a dog’s toenails or cutting your hair. Yes, it can be an annoyance to the bird, but there’s no pain involved at all.
To whoever thought or thinks that clipping a chicken wings is cruel. This is similiar to accusing people of cruelty when they cut someone’s fingernails or hair. It doesn’t hurt the chicken at all!!!
I agree with some of the other communications, it is cruel to clip the chickens wings. If you need to, only clip a few of feathers past the end 4, this way they have a lower flight and the chickens Can control there landing.
Anyone who believes it is cruel to clip a chickens wing, must definitely be a city farmer, or a demo rate. It is no different than cutting our fingernails, or trimming a horse feet.
Thanks for the help! I have one lady who makes it her daily mission to escape. Of course, the entire flock has went from free-ranging to breeding pens and NO ONE is happy about it. I was worried I would cut a blood feather :/ but happy to know I wont be any where near them 🙂
Also, to those of you screaming “abuse”..please do your research. Yes, there are many things you could do to advocate for poultry abuse, please go start with battery hens (that produce the eggs YOU eat..the ones I eat come from happy healthy albeit wing clipped hens), and if thats not enough to get you started, check out the methods hatcheries use to dispatch excess male chicks~~my chicks are hatched here on the farm from happy healthy hens that just so happen to not be allowed to fly out o a 2 acres fence bc I am clipping their wings…oh, my poor ladies :'( ~~
Wing clipping should be the least of your concerns….just saying..
We did it all the time to keep them down on the farm so to speak. Or they would have flown over the fence of their run and be in danger of the local predators.