How to Clip Your Chicken’s Wings

by Meghan H

Published September 8, 2017

Chickens are not typically great flyers, but they can get off the ground high enough to escape over fences, walls and even as high as trees to roost. If you clip your chicken’s wings you can help keep your chicken from escaping and putting itself in danger of predators, or your neighbor’s yard.

When you clip your chicken’s wings you will only be cutting on one side, as this will off-balance your chicken and they won’t be able to fly. Clipping your chicken’s wing when done properly does not hurt them one bit; it’s like us clipping our nails. Once the wing is clipped it won’t look any different when it is tucked back in the remaining feathers.

Items Needed

  • Sharp Scissors
  • Someone to assist you (this can be done alone; it will just take a little longer.)

Step 1: Catch the chicken that needs to be clipped. This can honestly be the hardest step as not all chickens are docile and friendly. It makes it easy when the chicken that needs clipping hunches down and lets you pick her up.

If your chicken is one that doesn’t like to be touched by humans the easiest way to catch her is to corner her in a small space/area. To calm your chicken down once caught, turn her over on her back upside down. Believe it or not, this calms a chicken down and they become more docile. A great time to do this is at night because they are naturally calm and all in one space.

Step 2: Extend the wing and locate the flight feathers. You will need to locate the first 10 feathers called the primary flight feathers.

Clipping Chicken Wings to stop flight - Meyer Hatchery

Step 3: Cut the primary flight feathers. Chickens have blood vessels and bones in their wings, so it is important not to cut too short as this can harm the bird. However, not cutting enough of the primary flight feathers is pointless and your chicken will continue to fly and escape. You will want to clip the feathers right under where the next row of feathers starts.

Scissors Cutting Chicken Wing Feathers - Meyer Hatchery

If you cut too short and the feather starts bleeding, do not panic. Remain calm and locate the base of the bleeding feather. Pluck the feather from the base and the bleeding should stop. It is also possible to use a styptic powder, such as Kwik Stop, to stop the bleed without pulling the feather. Just pour some powder into the product’s cap and dip the bleeding end of the feather into the powder until it is coated.

Clipped Chicken Wing Feathers - Meyer Hatchery

Step 4: Release her back to the chicken yard and watch her attempt to fly. It may frustrate her at first, but it is for her own safety. Feathers, like our nails, grow back and may need to be clipped periodically if your chicken starts to escape again and after they molt and are replaced with full length feathers again.

Group of Chickens in Chicken Yard - Meyer Hatchery

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