How to clip a chicken’s wings

Q. This is Tina at Los Angeles Eco Village, I went to visit your garden (“in heaven”) in February with a group of people from LAEV. Thank you so much for showing us around, it was very motivating for us to do something in our garden. I have a question about chicken. We are building a chicken house, somehow, the chicken manages to fly out of house everyday, and we are thinking of clipping a little bit of her wings, would you please advise us: is it ok to do it, and how to do it?

Thank you so much. Tina

A. I’m glad you enjoyed your visit and that you gained motivation and inspiration from our garden.

Yes, it’s okay to clip a chicken’s wings, it does not hurt the bird and doesn’t bother her a bit. As you may know, a chicken’s feathers is just like a human’s fingernails — if you clip them right, it doesn’t hurt, but if you clip them too deep, then you can cause your finger to bleed.

If you have a problem with her flying out all the time, then yes, I definitely recommend you clip her wings. I had to do that with one of my chickens as she was a little escape artist.

When you clip her wings, you only clip one wing as that would keep her from flying out of the coop. If you clip both wings she will only flap harder and still fly high enough to escape.

To clip a chicken’s wings, you should have two people — one to hold the chicken and one to cut her feathers. Hold the chicken firmly and extend one wing to its full length. When the wing is in this position, you’ll be able to see the design and structure of her wing: there will be short feathers closer to her body and longer ones toward the tip of her wing. These are called the lead feathers. Cut them to the same length as the smaller feathers towards her body.

You’ll probably cut off one or two inches of feather. If in doubt, cut less as you can always cut a bit more off. If you cut too deep, you’ll cause the feathers to bleed. If this happens, put some cornstarch on the bleeding feathers, though I doubt you’ll have to do this as you have to cut really close to the body to make her feathers bleed. If you just cut one or two inches, you should be fine.

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