Although chickens aren’t the best at flying, they can still flutter short distances - certainly enough to get over a low fence or wall. To prevent your birds from scrabbling to freedom, we recommend that you clip their wing feathers each time they moult.
Clipping a chicken’s wing feathers isn’t half as daunting or complicated as it sounds. The rationale behind the idea is that if you clip the wing feathers on one side of your bird, it’ll unbalance her enough to prevent her from flying properly, and getting enough height from her wings to escape your garden. Although it sounds a little drastic, if you perform it correctly it’s a painless procedure, and it allows them to have free reign of your land (if it’s a safe space for chooks), without being restricted by a cage.
Clipping a chook's wings isn't as tricky as it may seem
If you think clipping your wings will be necessary, then follow the steps below:
- Catch your chicken and make sure that it’s calm. Carry her over to a place in which you can sit down and have her sit peacefully on your lap for a few moments until she is calm.
- Gently stretch out one of her wings so that you can see all of the large feathers on the end. It doesn’t matter which wing is clipped as long as it is just one wing.
- Select the largest ten or eleven feathers on the wing – these are known as the primary feathers, and they are the principle feathers the bird uses to fly. Examine the quill of the feather carefully before you clip it. Depending on the colour of the feather, you may be able to see where the vein is. This will be a darker section. Parts that don’t have blood vessel will be light. It’s important that you don’t cut the vein, or any part that is very close to the vein, as this will hurt your bird. You only need to cut about half of the feathers. We recommend you look at some diagrams before you attempt this.
Watch our tutorial on clipping chickens wings by clicking here.
Learn how to safely clip your chickens wings in this tutorial
Stacie, 25 April 2021
Will it hurt them if they are accidentally cut too short? Also will it work if I just trim the ends? I'd hate to cause any pain!
Jamie, 4 April 2016
Has the wing clipping diagram gone somewhere - its not on this page
Martin, 5 January 2012
Very good & easy advice as are all your tips