Tuesday, July 14, 2015


Should you clip your chickens wings or not?  A few of my chickens have figured out how to clear the 6' fencing around the run and spend some "free" time in the yard.  Of those birds, four were lost to predators while the chicks in the lot were safe and sound.  If I clip their wings am I making them safer or taking away their ability to protect themselves through flight?

After a little research, here is my less than expert take on it.

The pros:
It grounds the chicken.  No more flying over the fence.
It's safe and painless if done correctly.
It's temporary once the chicken molts.

The cons:
It limits the birds ability to flee from predators and takes away their main defensive tactic.
Clipping can lead to injuries by throwing off their balance and equilibrium, especially from high places.
If improperly done, pain and blood loss could occur.

This is a simplified look at it.  The Chicken Chick and 104 Homestead have gone into much more detail on the subject including the proper way to clip.
image courtesy of backyardchickens.com 

For me, I don't thinks clipping is worth it.  Yes, I have chickens who escape daily.  Yes, they sometimes "visit" the neighbor. They most certainly disrupt the mulch in the front flower beds.  But is that worth limiting my birds, not only for the sake of predators but for their general happiness?
It feels like I'm taking away something that I shouldn't.

My husband would respond that 1) I did something similar to Oreo, our buck and 2) they are birds and really wouldn't care.  Oreo's ability to reproduce was a problem I didn't have another answer to and we all know that I don't consider my chickens "just birds".  Netting is inconvenient due to my height but has worked before.  It seems like a more acceptable solution.  So for now, no clipping.

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