Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Clipping Chicken Wings

In the last three days I've lost three layers; two of which were killed by a coyote because they kept flying over the fence into the brush (which you can see in the background of the picture below). Apparently he knows where dinner is and he's sitting and waiting for the girls to fly over the fence. And of course, the other hens tend to follow suit, flying over to join the one, so something had to be done immediately or lose the whole flock. 

Hen Hilton Update: We've dug a trench and will be
adding electricity this weekend if the weather holds out!

I would just raise the height of the fence, but the cost outweighs the benefits when I could clip the wings for free. I have some extra chicken wire, so I plan to reinforce the existing wire fencing material on the backside of the chicken yard as well. And in the meantime, I also sprayed some Repels-All on the grass outside the run on the back side of the fence. It's suppose to repel dogs, so I figure it should help with coyotes, too. After all, this is war and I've got to use everything I have in my arsenal.

To clip the wings, have someone hold the bird while you gently stretch out her wing. The longer primary feathers are the ones we're going to cut which are just below the shorter feathers.

We're not cutting all the way across which would be into the secondary feathers, but rather the first few in the front portion of the wing. Be sure to use sharp scissors or sheers. I clipped one wing on each of six birds and my shears got dull fairly quickly (so don't be using your good quilting scissors or anything!).

Most of the hens behaved very nicely and didn't fidget too much, but there's always one that thinks you're going to hurt it. I only clipped one wing on each because it causes their flight to be uneven and throws them off a bit. When they molt, I'll need to watch to make sure that these shorter cut feathers come out and the new ones grow in. If they start flying again next year, I'll have to repeat the process. 

Backyard Chickens has a graphic and more photos if you'd like some additional help knowing how to do this properly, but as long as you don't cut into the bone on the wing which is higher up and you don't go crazy cutting a lot of feathers, you're going to do fine.  

Can you tell she got a trim in the before and after pictures here? Below is the hen before. Notice the longer lighter colored feathers on her wing? They just happen to be showing in this picture, but usually they're not even visible because the hens keep the primary feathers pulled in and tucked under.

And after? Not a great photo, but you wouldn't know her feathers had been clipped unless you lifted her wing up and out. I was really worried they'd look maimed, but it's not too bad after all.

If you chickens free-range without protection, I wouldn't suggest clipping their wings so that they could fly up into a tree if they need to. But for the hens that are in enclosures, this may be the ticket to keep them at home. Already the worst culprit that was still alive was staying in the yard, so I think we may have found a good solution. No one wants to lose a good chicken to a predator. 

Please share if you've had success with clipping wings to keep chickens from flying out of their enclosures.


Related Posts with Thumbnails