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Clipping a Chicken’s Wings

Clipping a Chicken’s Wings

If you are going to clip your chickens’ wings, here are the things to consider about chicken health. Chickens are interesting birds as far as their ability to fly is concerned. While some birds use their wings as their primary means of transport, domesticated chickens prefer to be grounded. They have relatively limited flying powers. This is attributed to the fact that their body weight is much heavier in relation to their wings. Thus, they don’t fly as high or stay in the air as long as other birds.

Bantams can fly 25 to 50 feet so that they can roost in trees if they wanted to. Heavier breeds can still fly high enough to get over fences and roost in the lower limbs of trees. And even if their flights are limited, chickens that fly can still cause a lot of problems to their owners.

First of all, chickens that fly can go to your neighbor’s property and damage their gardens, poop on their chairs and windows and scratch well-manicured lawns. This can cause inconvenient interpersonal issues with your neighbors.

Second, chickens that are able to escape from your property are also placed in danger of straying, being eaten by predators or attacked by people who are not used to or don’t like having chickens in their property. If you live in the city, they could get run over by vehicles and electrocuted if they perch on wires or electrical posts. Even if your chicken could find its way home, these events are highly stressful and could spawn the development of disease in your bird.

The solution of most chicken owners to prevent their chickens from flying is to clip their wings. While wing clipping does not hurt your chicken, you should still consider the necessity of actually doing so. For example, if you are housing your chicks in a coop with a covered run, then there’s a very low possibility of them escaping, unless you forget to close the door of the run.

If you are convinced that wing clipping is the only solution, then do it. However, it has to be done correctly to ensure chicken health. Before you begin, have sharp shears ready. If you are not yet an expert at this, having someone to hold the chicken for you as you cut the wings will make things easier.

In clipping the wings, make sure that your helper holds the chicken securely with a tight firm grip on the body. Another grip is to let your helper rest one side of the chicken on his chest while supporting the body with his dominant. The other hand can then extend the other wing (the one not pressing to the helper’s chest) in such a way that the primary and secondary feathers are exposed. You then cut the first ten flight feathers. The flight feathers refer to feathers distal to the chicken’s body. The cut should be about two to three inches long. Remove the sharp edges from the feathers that have been cut as this can damage or cause tears in the other feathers. You can opt clip only one wing or clip from both. Either way, the bird will not be able to fly.

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