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How To Clip Chicken’s Wings (Easy Feather Clipping)

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How To Clip Chicken’s Wings – Learn how to clip chicken wings easily! Stop your hens from getting out of their yard easily by clipping your chicken’s wing feathers and keep them safe.

How To Clip Chicken Wing Feathers

Are you thinking about clipping your chicken’s wings but aren’t sure if you should?

I totally understand!

I prefer to let my animals be as natural as possible but sometimes that isn’t the best choice for their safety.

If you are having problems with your hens flying out of their pen then clipping your chicken’s wings may be the best way to keep them safe. Especially if you are keeping chickens in your backyard in town where they could easily get onto the road or have a nasty encounter with a neighbors dog.

Is Clipping Chicken Wings Cruel?

No, it isn’t cruel to clip the feathers on a chicken’s wings! It doesn’t hurt the birds at all and is no different then you cutting your hair or fingernails.

If you live in an area that you can’t safely free range your hens then clipping their wings can help to keep them safe. If you are raising laying hens in town you really want to make sure that your birds can’t escape into your neighbor’s yard and cause damage to their gardens.

How Often Do You Need To Clip Chicken Wings?

Normally a chickens wing feathers only need to be clipped once a year. The exception to this is is your birds have gone through a molt and regrown new wing feathers. Then you would need to trim the flight feathers again to keep the chickens from flying out of their pen.

How High Can Chickens Fly With Clipped Wings?

Unlike most birds flying is not something that comes easy for chickens. The larger breeds are too heavy to fly more than a few feet high with unclipped wings.

On the other hand, lighter weight breeds of chickens, especially banty breeds can reach up to 6 feet high.

I’ve even seen heavy weighted chickens manage to get over a 4 to 5-foot wall by flying a few feet up and grabbing onto the fence, then flying up a little higher.

So if you want to be sure your chickens can’t get out of their pen it’s a good idea to clip the wing feathers. With clipped wing feathers chickens are unable to fly at all but can still jump a foot or two high.

Do Clipped Chicken Wings Grow Back?

Yes! Cutting your chicken’s wing feathers is not a germinate solution. Chickens molt (lose and regrow) their feathers twice a year. When their new feathers grow back in they will be normal, full-sized feathers that need to be clipped again if you want to keep your birds from flying.

What Feathers Do You Clip?

Chicken Wing Primary Feathers

Chickens have different types of feathers on their wings. The primary flight feathers are the longest feathers towards the outside edge of the wing. There are normally 10 of these feathers.

For most birds these are the only feathers you will need to cut back.

The next set of feathers just behind these, but closer to the body are the secondary flight feathers. Most of the time you won’t need to trim these on your hens but if you have a stubborn flyer they can also be trimmed back.

The short feathers just above both types of flight feathers are called converts and should never be trimmed.

How To Clip A Chickens Wing Feathers

First, you’ll want to catch your chicken. The easiest way to do this without stressing the hens it to put out some treats. Then pick her up while she’s eating.

You can hold her while a helper does the wing trimming or use your arm to gently press the hen towards the ground so she can run away and spread the wing open.

Clipping Chicken Wing Feathers Hold The Wing Open

Holding the chicken firmly, but gently spread out one wing. Then with a pair of very sharp scissors cut the primary flight feathers back by 50%.

Clipping Chicken Wing Feathers Cutting The Primary Flight Feathers

The easiest way to do this is to use the end of the shorter secondary wing feathers as your starting line. Then cut from there out towards the outside of the wing.

Chicken With Her Flight Feathers Clipped

Normally cutting back the primary flight feathers is enough to stop chickens from flying. But there is always one or two determined hens that can still make it over the fence.

Clipping Chicken Wing Feathers Cutting The Secondary Flight Feathers

When this happens we also trim back the shorter secondary wing feathers and that stops them from being able to escape.

We only do that for birds that really need it though because I like to leave the secondary wing feathers on if possible. They help your birds with being able to cool themselves and it also looks nicer.

Should You Clip Both Wings?

There is a lot of advice that says to only clip 1 wing because it puts the chicken off balance so that it can’t fly.

But we have had many hens that could still easily fly with only one wing clipped! Because of this we always clip both wings and don’t have any problems with our chickens flying out of their pens.

I also feel that it makes the birds feel better because feeling balanced just makes sense to me.

Clipping Chicken Wing Feathers The Easy Way

What Can Go Wrong When Trimming Chicken Wing Feathers?

Trimming your hen’s wing feathers is really easy but you want to avoid cutting any feathers that have a dark-colored quill or are just starting to grow in. These feathers will have blood inside the quill unlike the normal feathers with a white quill that are hollow.

You also never what to cut the second layer of short feathers that lay overtop of the primary and secondary flight feathers.

If you do make a mistake and a feather starts to bleed just keep the bird calm and apply something to stop the bleeding. I’ve used silver nitrate sticks that I got from a vet before and they worked well. If you don’t have something like that on hand then simple corn starch is something I’ve used to stop bleeding wounds before.

Just place some corn starch on the end the feather and apply some pressure. The corn starch acts as a coagulant and the bleeding will stop.

See, clipping your chicken’s wings isn’t really hard to do at all!

If you’re still not convinced that you want to try it, that’s ok. There are other ways of keeping your hens inside of their pen.

You can also cover the top with a net to prevent them from flying out. This wasn’t a good option for us though because we have multiple chicken pens and they are really big.

Mary hudson

Tuesday 25th of January 2022

Enjoyed the tips explained on clipping chicken wings. It was very informative and helpful. Thanks for sharing 👍