Wing Clipping

When you get a delivery of beautiful little chicks, chances are you don’t consider that one day, said adorable little chicks will develop a wanderlust.

And want to sleep places like this:

Not only that – when new threats present themselves to your flock – you want to take measures to protect them! Particularly when said threat involves three small-elephant-sized, aggressive neighbor dogs!

So you fence! (And make sure your dog knows that she’s a good dog for protecting her flock!)

Then – you realize that your flock is kinda sneaky.

In fact, they become quite adept at escaping above-mentioned protective fencing!

What’s a girl to do?

Clip some wings, that’s what!

I know, I know. It’s controversial. It’s also got some questionable efficacy. But – well – sometimes it’s the best option to try and keep your flock safe!

I will admit – the first time we considered clipping wings I was a little freaked out. I mean – dang – doesn’t that hurt them? Honestly – no – it doesn’t. It’s about the same as you or I getting a haircut. Really!

And if you spend any amount of time researching online, you’ll see lots of videos about wing clipping, drawings, and the like. There are some that I like particularly that I’ll share with you. But I’ll also show you what we just wrapped up with – clipping the wings of our girls.

First – my personal favorite time of day to do this – when all of the girls have gone to bed. Wait until everyone is roosted, and it’s mostly dark out, and grab yourself a pair of really good scissors. I use an old pair of kitchen shears – and I make sure they’re nice and sharp.

It’s best to gently take hold of the hen – holding her feet with one hand, and cradling her with the other.

Next, hang her upside down.

Yes – really.

Then extend one of her wings.

(Pepper is upset, she’s worried we’re doing something not very nice to her chicken!)

It doesn’t matter which side – just choose a wing.

Now this is important – see that first section of the wing? Right where my right pinky is below?

Do you see the little set of wings on the underside of that wing? THAT is our guide.

Those little feathers are the primary coverts. The bigger feathers underneath there are the primary flight feathers – those are the ones we want to trim.

See?

You just trim that first set – it’s not that many feathers.

Afterward – you right the hen, cuddle her a little, speak soothingly to her, and then resituate her back on the roost she came from. She might be a little indignant for a moment – but not too long – ’cause she won’t want anyone moving in on her favorite roost spot!

Here’s another one – different coloration – so it might be easier to see…

And another…

See?!

Nothing to it!

Things you need to know…

When your chicken molts – she’ll loose most of her feathers – and regrow new ones – and well, if you feel this is a beneficial thing for your flock – you’ll have to re-clip those wings.

This does put them off kilter a bit when they fly. If you’ve got a particularly motivated flier – well, then you might want to clip BOTH wings – so they’re not so off kilter that they fly INTO stuff, you know? The benefit being that they will be less able/likely to fly so far or high.

Nope – this does not hamper their ability to roost at all. My girls still get up on their 5 foot high roosts with their clipped wings.

And – yes – you may well still have a girl who can do this:

AFTER her wings have been clipped.

Go figure!

Now – some resources you may find helpful.

When you’re clipping wings – remember, you’re using the tips of primary coverts to guide where to trim the primary flight feathers.

And here’s a great video!

Hope you find this helpful!

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5 thoughts on “Wing Clipping

  1. Dearest Aunt,
    I think that since you have Megan for the week you should definitely make one of her OR experiences holding a chicken upside down so you can clip its wings. She would love it. 😀

    Love ya!
    Nik

    • LOL! She actually was the camera woman for this post – and she did a fine job. Although she was bored pretty early in. Definitely didn’t hang around for all 30 of the girls to get their wing clipping! 🙂

    • Its crazy how fast they grow, isn’t it? But also how slow it seems until the first egg shows up! Gosh, I can be fickle! LOL!

      It’s funny – but it’s almost easier when you have a BUNCH of chicks, than with just a handful. I don’t know why – but we’ve found that to be true, for sure!

      🙂

  2. Thanks for the info about clipping wings, and for the video, too. We’ve clipped our chickens’ wings, and our guineas’ wings, too, before reading this post. It’s good to know we did it right!

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