How to clip your chickens’ wings

7th April 2021 | Moira Geddes
How to clip your chickens’ wings

While keeping backyard chickens has been an extremely fun and rewarding experience for my 11-year-old twins, unfortunately I don’t share quite the same sentiment. Since getting their flight feathers, the hens have managed to evade my free-range fenced-in measures and destroy my prized orchids, eat everything in the vegie patch and poop on every surface available. So we decided that it was time to clip our chickens’ wings.

At first I felt really bad about taking away our chickens’ ability to fly, so it took a lot of convincing by other chicken owners to actually go ahead with it. The advice that I was repeatedly given was that clipping a chicken’s wings is not harmful to the bird, and is actually equivalent to giving them a haircut or clipping their nails.

Given that chickens are pretty poor flyers anyway (and also considering the state of our backyard), I decided to go ahead despite my feelings of guilt. After a bit of research I discovered that all we needed to do was trim the chicken’s primary flight feathers. Chickens typically have 10 of them, and most of the time they’re a slightly different colour to their other feathers, which makes them easy to identify. Once you open the chicken’s wing, all you need to do it cut the feathers down to about half their length.

Check out the video below which shows how the twins and I fared once we finally plucked up the courage to bring our flighty feathered girls back down to earth.