Wing clipping in chickens

I often get asked about how and when to clip the wings of chickens. I usually answer with a question… “why do you want to clip your chickens wings”. Its not a requirement to clip their wings and only really needs doing if you have a bird or birds that persistently clear boundaries and head off to the neighbours garden, or your veg plot.

Some breeds of chicken are reasonable flyers over a short distance, others are very good jumpers, and in both cases the clipping of wings can help reduce the amount of lift they get from frantically flapping.

Points to note though, despite clipping some birds will potentially still manage to get sufficient lift or can jump powerfully enough to clear the boundary. Wing clipping is not therefore a fix-all and some sort of netting over the run might be required.

Wing clipping is simple enough, but far simpler if you have an extra pair of hands to hold the bird. All you need do is take a pair of scissors and cut off the primary feathers ON ONE WING ONLY! This will serve to unbalance the bird and hopefully reduce the height they can gain. The image below shows the cut line in red. Note when you are holding the wing, the primary feathers are not seen when the birds wing is closed, therefore cutting them doesn’t effect the look of the bird when it is at rest.

 In terms of when to cut them, do it when the feathers are fully grown and only do it on mature birds. Don’t cut the feathers whilst they are still growing.

The feathers of course will remain cut until the bird moults, at which point new primary feathers will grow. Once they are fully grown then you can clip them again but by that time the bird may have got out of the habit of ranging a bit too far!


2 Replies to “Wing clipping in chickens”

  1. Thanks for this!
    I’ve got a Barnevelder (that we hatched last year) and she is the most flightly…

    Even with her wing clipped, she can jump from the ground up to the top of the Eglu Cube (1.5m) then over and into the veg patch…

    She’s quite heavy as well…. maybe some heavy leg rings? very heavy leg rings?????


  2. it is like you read my mind! hehe..we finally penned in the little buggers after 2 years and the rooster still likes to get out once in a while..I now know how to take care of that! thanks!

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