Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Having a trim..

I was contacted by a friend I work with who has chickens today. She asked me if I had ever clipped my chickens wings.

From the off, I would like to add that I really do not see many benefits regards clipping a chicken's wings. I did it at the beginning of my chicken keeping days as I was told it was supposed to stop the jumping, flying etc...
However in reality, chickens are naturally bottom heavy. Their body to wingspan ratio is disproportionate in comparison with other birds. A chicken might manage five or six feet of flight a foot or so above the ground but that is about their limit. They can jump quite high and if you are trying to pen them in to an area with a low fence then this is probably the reason you would consider wing clipping.

When handling the birds, make sure you have a firm grip on them because they do like to wriggle about and try to get away when they see the scissors oncoming. You can normally handle each bird in one hand comfortably, it is always good to make sure that you have hold (and control) of their wings, if you do so then there won't be much chance of the bird trying to get away.

In an attempt to stop chickens hopping over low boundaries etc. you can clip their wings on your own but I would reccomend that his is normally a job that requires 2 people. One person should calmly hold the bird, and outstretch the left wing. The second person should then snip off the back feathers on the chicken's wing. This will not hurt the chicken, and they will not feel anything, it is very similar to us cutting our nails. The effect of wing clipping is to unbalance the birds. This means that the bird will not be able to gain as much height during flight or when jumping as they usually would.

I don't have any clearer photos of the actual clipping on a chicken, but I do have these from when I clipped my quail's wings...

In the picture you can see how I have a firm hold on the bird, and the wing is outstretched using my right hand. Then get your helper to cut the larger feathers at the back of the wing towards the body.

Just use any good household scissors. The first time you do it the feathers (especially on chickens) may seem hard to cut but be firm and remember, it will not hurt the chicken at all.

Have a good day. Any questions just ask.

Hope that helps somebody!



  1. Ha Ha, I will have to get a picture of my chickens way up in the trees at night. Trust me they can fly a whole lot higher than 5 feet, though I am sure it depends on what breed you have. Still most of mine can get quite high. As for clipping their wings, you are just making it easier for predators to get them. With the fox hanging around my house, this is not something I would even consider doing.

  2. Definately agree with that Becky!!!

    I would not advocate doing it at all, just like I stated at the beginning of the post.

    But if needs must then I can understand why people do it.

    Won't be trimming my own hens wings any time soon!

    I only did it when I was 14 years old and I was told it was a must!

    If you can get a picture of your chickens in the trees I would love it!

    Have a good day!!!


  3. There are definitely pros and cons - with clipping wings.

    I bought some with clipped wings years ago, but didn't clip any additional birds wings. My chickens are rare breed bantams and do fly around but didn't fly up on the high hedges or tall fences. Luckily we do not have any foxes - touch wood - the farmers tend to keep them under control as there are lots of poultry farms around here.

    BUT - a few months ago, in the windy wintry weather, and unknow to me cos I was ill in bed, a neighbour's fence blew down at the side of the houses where we never tend to go - and she didn't tell us.

    Yes you have guessed it - Zola went missing. I hunted high and low - and found the fence down. A search of my neighbour's garden proved fruitless. At dusk, in the pouring rain, I got a knock on my door from a neighbour over the back in the next road, who'd seen a 'funny looking bird' in their garden - and yes it was Zola and no we couldn't get her. She flew off at great height over the hedges into the fields and that was the last I saw of her............

    Three days later she returned - a mystery how she got back - but at that point I decided to clip their wings. They can still fly - and do - but not over 7ft high so are safe in the garden. When they finish moulting and the feathers grow back I don't think I'll bother again - it was the first time I had 'lost' a chicken.

  4. Hi Lottie.

    Great comment!

    There are definately pros and cons as there are with everything. It's personal preference too, and I would have done the same as you in your situation.
    Have you tried clipping your quail's wings. That is beneficial. You know what they are like. They will fly away and never come back if they get the chance. Clip their wings and they will be limited to small hops!

    Martin :)

  5. We had ours clipped originally, but don't bother any more either. Our girls rarely try to get off the ground. Lie you say, perhaps it's a breed thing.

  6. I don't clip my chickens wings, purely because I've never needed to.

    The only time I've ever considered it was when we got a new batch of birds and the first night at dusk, they all flew into the trees to roost. I was out there with my broom knocking them off their branches and placing them in the henhouse one by one. The second night only half of them need 'knocking off' and by the third night they decided just to get in the henhouse themselves.

    If they hadn't learnt after a week I might have clipped their wings, they would have been in more danger in the trees at night than by not being able to fly during the day.

    Sue xx


Thankyou for taking the time to visit our blog! Please leave a comment we love reading every single one of them!